Style Guide 4 – Grammar analysis

Grammar plays a very fundamental role in all languages around the world. It is a set of rules within a language, such as phonetics and syntax, that helps speakers understand each other’s ideas. It is imperative that such rules and structures be followed to avoid any kind of confusion. English, however, has proven itself as an exception, for there are many languages that allow for minimal leeway when a grammatical rule is broken. As native speakers of English, we commit many grammatical errors daily without even noticing. This is because English is unique in a way that grammatical errors acceptable only if others understand the thought that was being conveyed. At times, it is up to the author whether to stick to or break the rules of proper English grammar. For instance, authors of official documents cannot improvise on grammar because they must consider the importance of the document’s interpretation. A lack of correct grammar in such case may result in negative consequences. In literature, however, authors often choose to mend these grammatical rules, as is the case in the Storium stories. There are situations in which proper grammar, despite being technically correct, should be omitted. This obviously does not allow authors to write however they please in terms of committing flagrant grammatical errors. Rather, when it is necessary for the reader’s understanding of the story, the author can either adhere to grammar or choose not to.

If English were spoken flawlessly all the time, one can argue that such people must have given great importance to the language. In the Storium stories, there are many times when dialogue takes place between characters. Obviously, not all characters are made equal. For example, one cannot expect the characters in Unexpected Love who are currently in high school to express ideas in the same manner as Mr. Roccafella, an intelligent and successful business man in Harmonia. For example, in scene three Mr. Roccafella addresses Mrs. Schmidt, ‘“Hello, Ms. Schmidt,” asked Mr. Roccafellar nervously, “May I come in and talk about the deal one last time?”’. Mr. Roccafella’s diction and syntax accurately reflects his character. He greets Mrs. Schmidt in a professional manner. In addition, when asking permission, he uses the verb “may” rather than the more common yet less proper “can”. It is anticipated that such a man will utilize good grammar in his dialogue given his high status and his expectations as a businessman. In the case of the characters in Unexpected Love, their speech is unsurprisingly different. Teenagers are not typically known for speaking with perfect grammar. Rather they rely on others understanding the main ideas that are being conveyed rather than focusing on speaking correctly. In one instance, Marissa says, “‘You know…for a boy that reads that many books…you sure are a slow learner…’ Marissa says as she leans in…”. In her dialogue with Dexter, the reader sees several ellipses that seemingly separate Marissa’s speech. According to correct English grammar, ellipses should only be used in the omission of text usually cited from a source. Clearly, the author is not trying to indicate that Marissa had some lapses in her speech. Rather, given the context of the situation, the ellipses separating her speech indicate small pauses which suggest that she is being hesitant. If the author had been grammatically correct and had substituted periods for the ellipses, the author’s actual intentions could have been misinterpreted. Marissa’s hesitation accurately reflects how a normal teen feels about a complicated subject such as love. Given that the target audience for this story is young people in high school, sacrificing one of the rules of grammar enhances the audience’s understanding of the situation.

In instances of dialogue, correct grammar can be disregarded if it accurately reflects on the speaker’s character. However, authors should be mindful that improper grammar outside of quotation marks can hinder the reader’s understanding of the author’s ideas. It is costly because it may cause the reader to lose interest. One of the most commons errors committed by native English speakers in writing is the comma splice. Although some readers will mentally treat the comma as a period, it will certainly cause readers to stop reading to decipher what author is saying. Upon reading a passage in The Violin, I was forced to slow down when I came across the sentence, “Her mind cleared, her tears dried at the sound she created, she would be born again through music, she would overcome.” The meaning becomes unclear after the second comma because the cluster of commas seem to separate four different ideas. As a reader, I find it difficult to understand what Jink is feeling. This error can ruin the conclusion since this sentence ends the story. It is important that the reader understand that final fine because it plays a significant role in the story’s ending. Without any doubt, this error is very correctable. If the author wanted to join all the clauses together, he or she could have added the conjunction “and”. Otherwise, to fix the error, the author could have added a period after the second clause and between the third and fourth clause. That way, not only is the mistake fixed, but thee reader will have no problem understanding that line.

Evidently, grammar can both help or hurt the author and how the reader interprets his or her intentions. The author must make the correct decision on whether the reader will better understand a line if correct grammar is used or if grammatical rules are laxed. In some cases, an error may add certain effects to a character’s dialogue that is well worth the risk. However, obvious yet fixable mistakes can impede the reader’s understanding of the text. Either way, the author is responsible for choosing to abide to the rules or to make exceptions.