Don’t Let the Grammar Nazis Tell You Not to Write
Shakespeare did not know that Mark Antony lived a “Thug life” and Keats could never imagine writing his “Bae” a love poem.
There are one thousand and more reasons why one writes. Grammar is not one of them. Having grown up in a country where English is a secondary language adapted heavily to local languages, I can hardly tell the difference between correct and wrong anymore. Moving to a non-English speaking European country did nothing to change my opinion.
Two people conversing with each other in English in a non-English speaking country making the same mistakes each hardly can tell that there is a mistake in the sentence being spoken. They understand each other perfectly.
The realization dawned when I found a fellow technology blogger on Facebook from a fellow south-Asian country. Wondering why his blog is so successful, I clicked out of curiosity. Guess what, it was ridden with grammar and spelling mistakes right from the title. Yet, he was clearly successful.
Then it struck me, the readers are not all English speaking and they figure from context, just like they do when they speak. Who blames the Dalai Lama for a misplaced definite-article!? An idiot is who.
The internet commandment
Writing styles have changed over time immensely. Why not extend the privilege to places outside the internet? There are after all, not as many memes dedicated to the microsecond saved while omitting the “b” in “Bae”, as there are to point that “There is not their is not they’re”.
The former is “cool” and the latter is “badly educated”. Oh well. Isn’t judging one by grammar just a bourgeoise tendency, a tendency we all otherwise love to publicly detest?
Surely, one doesn't choose to speak wrongly? How one speaks is a mere product of chance of birth, how many damns your country of residence gives to the quality of education in “poorer” schools, what generation of educated your parents are, and what language your colonizer spoke a thousand years ago. Which of these factors could you choose? Why is it ok to openly make fun of bad grammar?
Real problems need real solutions
Understandably, some mistakes in grammar cost more than others. Having been in academia for a while, I know that it can be a pain to read badly written papers and interpret the meaning. Especially when you are not aware that the writer is from a non-English speaking background, you don't know what to expect.
The solution is simpler than most problems. We live in 2020, where we don't even have to think before what we write, the keypad tells us what to do. There are enough tools out there that can correctly translate and transfer information between thoughts and words. Popularize them. Use them more often, make them cheaper, make open-source alternatives. Do anything but shame the speaker. Language and grammar are no one's proprietary work. Make them truly free.
As a writer, the onus is on you to decide why you are writing. Are you a scientific writer, are you a fiction writer with dapper stories, are you an explorer of cross-cultural styles of poetry, are you an activist, are you a technology explorer? Each of these needs has a different goal, target audience, and style of writing.
It is definitely the work of the writer to identify his demographic and write accordingly. It might be appealing to a wider audience if written in easily readable, simple English which is also grammatically correct. Out of all the factors a writer has to keep in mind for his work, grammar should be the most easily solvable problem.
The bottom line of every piece of works should be its goal. It should be how it attempts to make the iota of change in the world. Grammar is merely a tool. If a washing machine takes you an hour to figure out how to run, you hardly blame your incapacity. It is a badly designed machine. Grammar is no different, it is mathematics. It is a readily available design to fit your technique into. There is no reason why one should blame him or herself for writing less than perfect grammar. Just get the correct instruction manual. More importantly, make yourself understood.