Grammar rules only go so far, and then there is phenomenology

A lot of people depend too much on grammar rules. They think that if they learn the rules, then they can objectify the language to a degree and compose any phrase if given enough time. The fact is though that rules aren’t always what we want to follow or should follow.

Speed limits may be 60 km/hour for example, but even police very rarely care if you go 10 over. The rules then don’t depend only on the founders or enforcers, but also on how people interact with them. In English, if you say “what is up” that may be correct grammatically, but a lot of people just say “sup”. Another example is “I goed to the movies yesterday”. Maybe the founder of the English language tried to enforce the “-ed” ending here, but people plainly didn’t like it and so we have “went” which sounds a lot better.


What? Sounds better?

Yea man.



Unlike speed limits, langauge rules aren’t about anybody’s safety. As a result, people have compromised the rules for things like natural flow and oral aesthetics. These are often a higher priority than strict adherence to grammar rules. As a result, we have altered morphologies, contractions, and other short forms. These are exceptions and do make it harder to box in a language, but then again language isn’t shaped like a box. It’s this messy phenomenon that you have to wrestle with and take head on.


So the truth why people fail when strictly adhering to grammar rules is because they aren’t facing what a language is itself. They aren’t addressing its messiness or spontaneity in how it’s used in order to make it sound better for instance. Thus, even with a lot of effort, the commitment is still often inefficient. What’s more is that these exceptions are often the words and sentence structures that are most commonly used and so studies become even less efficient. (See How many words do I need to know? for more on commonality). Besides sound, there are other aspects that are prioritized above grammar rules, but more on those later.


Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s