Friday, March 4, 2011

To happily potter

Simon Hoggart's column in Friday's Guardian featured a mention of Bas Aarts' new Oxford Modern English Grammar (available now from all good retailers). Hoggart expressed delight that a grammarian wasn't slavishly following old-fashioned prescriptive judgements about split infinitives, allowing him to feel unashamed of saying "I'm going to happily potter about in the garden". We've always said that grammar is good for you but it can also make you happy.

Slightly less prestigiously, Dan had his letter about Rastamouse and grammar printed in the Evening Standard this week, which he was very excited about, even if no one else was (even his own kids, all avid viewers of the mighty mouse). Because it's not online, I'll reproduce it in all its brief glory here:

It's a pity that Rastamouse has been criticised by some for encouraging "sloppy" English. There's nothing sloppy about different varieties of English and in fact most of them have very logical and well-established systems of grammar in place.

Rastamouse could actually be a very effective way of helping young people learn more about not only Jamaican English but also Standard English and the different forms of grammar used in other dialects. There's a growing body of linguistic evidence that analysing the grammar and vocabulary of non-standard varieties really helps young people start to understand the patterns we all use in our speech and writing. And that has to be irie.

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