Anil Mitra, © DECEMBER 2010, reformatted January 19, 2015

Home | Also see English grammar

Simple thoughts

a.       Grammar incorporates metaphysics

b.      It also has or tends to metaphysical arbitrariness and baggage

c.       Some of the metaphysical arbitrariness concerns what is emphasized in a particular culture. Some baggage is concerned with social class and fashion

d.      Excessively fixed grammar is sometimes a sign of stagnation, and may result in too much energy being devoted to minutiae and too much intellectual energy being misdirected

e.       Apparently times of great creative flux in language are associated with fluidity of various grammatical and related forms

f.        A significant source of modern fixity is mass education, democratization of language, and—though fixed form is not unimportant—to the delusion that fixity results in clarity. More fixity has diminishing return and, beyond a certain point, diminishes the creativity of a culture. And it is far from grammar alone that is the source of clear versus unclear expression

Further simple thoughts

g.       Periods or full stops—are often irrelevant: in numbered lists within a paragraph, at paragraph ends and other places

h.       Capitalization—given the use of periods, capitalization at the beginning of a sentence is unnecessary and is easily confused with other uses of capitalization

i.         Grammatical form—experiment with the arbitrary parameters such as particular manifestations of subject-predicate form. Experiment with alternative forms