PrintQuestion: Ninja, tell me truly. Is grammar important, really?

Answer: Yes, of course! With a caveat.

See, grammar exists as a structure for the efficient communication of ideas. When we uniformly accept the common standards for a particular language, we are able to say what we mean and mean what we say. However, humans made the rules, and humans can gosh-darned well break them, too. Screw you, academia!

Language is Fluid

Language is fluid; usages change and we may even begin to use basic terms in radically different ways. The word hack may seem innocuous enough, but there are no less than seven common definitions for this one little term, and we aren’t even counting the archaic falconry and cheese-making associations (“I’m still hacking[1] up my lungs from when I had to hack[2] my way out of my burning apartment with a Rachel Ray kitchen knife, after that hack[3] who hacked[4] into my life-hack[5] website dropped a lit joint on my shag carpet, then called a hack[6] and fled because he couldn’t hack[7] it”). 

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Everywhere you look, advice on SEO marketing and increasing site traffic are all “blah blah blah” about the all-powerful content. How to improve your content. How to create engaging content. How what you thought was good content at one time is now no longer acceptable because of reasons. (And, on a related note, how to spiff up existing content.)

At the frontline of content creation stands blogging. Blogs started out as the business equivalent of a “Dear Readers,” but let’s be honest: most blog posts these days have almost nothing to do with actual writing anymore. They’re all about cross-marketing and the multimedia experience, or how many images to include and at what resolution and which designer can hook you up with a really swell infographic.

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If you have any hipster sensibilities, you may be familiar with New York-based rock band Vampire Weekend and one of its most widely known hits: “Oxford Comma.” The very NSFW lyrics, from which I pulled the title of this post, don’t actually take a side in the classic grammatical debate of “to serial comma or not to serial comma?” However, it’s definitely a catchy tune. Though it may reveal the band’s decidedly ambivalent stance on the Oxford comma question, the song also serves as evidence of this debate’s pervasiveness. Who ever thought a grammar question would become part of American pop culture?

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