Babelfish wrote:Wow, this "innocent" thread about pet peeves seems to have become a heated discussion about whether or not to follow grammar rules! And I'm afraid I'm on the minority side here... I'm pretty much a "purist", maybe it's just a pet peeve but it really annoys me when people speak - and even more so, write - with incorrect grammar. Mainly in my native language, Hebrew, although it's so damn complicated that I can't totally blame people...
Now I'll probably be attacked by the many people here who don't agree that there's such a thing as "correct" or "incorrect" grammar. I guess it's sort of an ideological issue - some would like those grammarians to get off our backs! while others want to preserve the language. I think preserving the language does have its merits - for instance, modern written Arabic is pretty much the same around the Arab world, but spoken Arabic has dozens of dialects which are not even mutually intelligible!
Actually, this probably is a good reason to preserve the literary language, in the case of English, as-is, because it is practically inevitable that spoken English dialects will significantly diverge like those of Arabic or Vulgar Latin, to the point where they are effectively separate languages altogether. Due to such, it would actually be a good idea to try to keep the literary language as one monolithic construct, to help enable communication in writing even when the individuals in question can't necessarily communicate well in speech in the future.
[/quote="Babelfish"]And as far as I know, French speakers can't readily understand Spanish or Romanian, or vice-versa, although all of them have evolved from Latin (with local influences). Language is for communication, isn't it? So while some grammar rules may be obsolete (e.g. in English "If I were..." instead of "was", the only case of subjunctive), letting the language change freely without keeping and teaching some (written) standard will make communication impossible over time.
But I guess there's also tradition into it. I still would say "If I were", even in speech, and wouldn't like to be "forced" to stop it b/c people would look at me funny. I'm used to it. I've read that in Germany there was recently a suggestion to formally get rid of some irregular plural forms (Funny no one here mentioned the irregular verbs in English...), and many people object to it, not based on any kind of logic but simply a will to keep language and tradition. I think that might be what makes me peeved when I hear Hebrew speakers mess it up...[/quote]
One problem with such potential "reforms" is when there still exists dialects which still native
do things "the old way". For example, in the case of "if I were" versus "if I was", in the dialect here, the subjunctive in its classical English sense is still productive, and also "were" as the past subjunctive of "to be" has not
changed to "was". Hence, to somehow legislate changing the past subjunctive of "to be" from "were" to "was" was be quite, well, annoying for individuals like myself, simply because at least here, trying to use "was" as the past subjunctive of "to be" just doesn't sound right
, so to speak. Even if they did somehow do that, I probably would still use "were" in said place rather than "was", as at least in my dialect, using "was" in such places would still not be exactly grammatical.
Babelfish wrote:Back to pet peeves, I also don't like it when people write without capitalisation and without any punctuation marks. Just a stream of words which I am somehow supposed to follow.
Agreed most definitely.