Front Range Community College Blog

Is Grammar on Its Way Out?

In case one hasn’t noticed, grammar seems to be on the way out.

Instead of nice, clean and communicative sentences, readers of all kinds are met with piles of misspelled words, strange sentence fragments, and barely recognizable abbreviations. Occasionally, this causes much chagrin among those who consider themselves grammatically correct.

The curse of the emoji

Alice Robb, a writer for The Atlantic and Mashable, went as far as to claim that emojis and other forms of internet writing are sapping writing of emotion.

It turns out this is both true and entirely uncontroversial. It is true that you need more and better writing to convey emotion and context in writing. The rules of grammar have been refined to provide a common understanding of how to go about this task, and it does that well

Technology-driven grammar

Granted, it is a grammar designed for handwriting, typewriters, and other things derived from those two technologies, including word processing software and email. All of these technologies rely on text in fairly sizable spaces, but they also carry around the ghosts of books and letters. They come from a time when these forms of written communication were common. Both demand that a writer provide a lot of context.

Grammar in today’s social contexts

Text messages, Twitter, Facebook posts, etc. all exist in fairly deep social contexts, so the need to communicate all of it is less needed. Very infrequently do you need to establish a context when you text OMW! (On My Way), or IM (Instant Message) someone BRB (Be Right Back). It is assumed.

Grammar has changed because context has changed. We need complex rules for grammar because in some cases we need to provide a lot of extra words to flesh out an idea, to give the reader more context. On the internet, in social media and texts, not only is it unneeded, it is totally unwarranted.

It’s all in the context

That’s not to say in writing a paper for school that one shouldn’t use proper grammar, but the next time you take pride in correcting someone’s grammar, make sure you do it in the right context.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Joe Grobelny is a reference and instruction librarian who focuses on collaborative, critical information literacy on the desk and in the classroom with five years of undergraduate and graduate instruction experience. He has half of a music degree, a BA in History from the University of Colorado at Boulder, and an MLIS from the University of Denver.