What's your take on grammar rules?

Robin   Wed Aug 30, 2006 3:17 pm GMT
I put in this passage by Dr Doolittle in Pygmalion (My Fair Lady) as topic in its own right. But nobody seems to have taken any interest in it yet. Basically most English people know what sounds right. How a Scottish person speaks, does not sound right, unless you make allowances for the fact they are Scottish. So, although there are rules, the rules are different in different parts of the country.

Anyway, the passage from Pygmalion:

Why can't the English teach their children how to speak?
This verbal class distinction by now should be antique.
If you spoke as she does, sir, Instead of the way you do,
Why, you might be selling flowers, too.
An Englishman's way of speaking absolutely classifies him,
The moment he talks he makes some other
Englishman despise him.
One common language I'm afraid we'll never get.
Oh, why can't the English learn to set
A good example to people whose
English is painful to your ears?
The Scotch and the Irish leave you close to tears.
There even are places where English completely
disappears. In America, they haven't used it for years!
Why can't the English teach their children how to speak?
Norwegians learn Norwegian; the Greeks have taught their
Greek. In France every Frenchman knows
his language fro "A" to "Zed"
The French never care what they do, actually,
as long as they pronounce in properly.
Arabians learn Arabian with the speed of summer lightning.
And Hebrews learn it backwards,
which is absolutely frightening.
But use proper English you're regarded as a freak.
Why can't the English,
Why can't the English learn to speak?
Guest   Wed Aug 30, 2006 8:49 pm GMT
>> What's your take on grammar rules? <<

Aye luve dhem, my onli prablem is speling.
Guest   Wed Aug 30, 2006 8:50 pm GMT
>> What's your take on grammar rules? <<

Aye luve dhem, my onli prablem is speling.
Robin   Fri Sep 01, 2006 8:41 am GMT
I have just been looking at English Grammar.


There is also another good site at:


But most British people learn English with out learning Grammar. So, grammar, is an analysis of the language that people speak and write. If people start speaking and writing it a different way, then the people who do the analysis, simply have to change the grammar.

Obviously, there is an inter relationship between: the analysis and the practice. At one time, spelling used to be highly variable. Then gradually, people decided on what the spelling would be. People then started to look at the spelled word, and then they would guess at how it pronouced. So, the written word would have developed from speech, and then speech would have developed from the written word.

There are some glaring exceptions: There is a village outside Banchory, which is on the maps as 'Stachan'. However, the word is pronouced 'Straun', don't ask me why. Other places called Stachan are called Strachan.

Strachan Village. The pretty village of Strachan (normally promounced 'Straun') is set in beautiful surrounds south west of Banchory. ...


There is another site, which shows just how variable spelling can be:

Septs & Spelling Variations of the Distinguished Name Strachan

Kelly   Fri Sep 01, 2006 11:37 am GMT
Professors of English will cry if you fire them ;)
So, I vote for grammar being needed ;)
Travis   Sat Sep 02, 2006 9:59 am GMT
>>Many Americans confuse LIKE for AS.
I guess people who do the proofreading thing, correct the mistakes, but they are paid to do so.<<

Do not say "confuse" here, as it implies that we "should" use "as"; even if some English-speakers outside North America only use "as" in such positions today, why should that concern us? It is just that in many if not most North American English dialects "like" has for all practical purposes replaced the role of "as" as a conjunction in particular usages outside of rather formal registers. Also note that the two are not generally interchangeable either.
Aquatar   Sun Sep 03, 2006 12:04 am GMT
>>Many Americans confuse LIKE for AS<<

In what context do Americans confuse LIKE for AS? Do you mean something like 'He didn't behave LIKE he should have' as opposed to 'He didn't behave AS he should have'. If that's the case, then this is also very common in the UK.