In this episode I talk about linguistic correctness. That is, the idea that there are correct ways to speak and write languages that conform to grammatical standards and conventions (“rules”), and that anything else is wrong.
There are three kinds of grammatical rules or conventions:
- Rules that everybody follows. For example in English, articles and adjectives precede nouns – you say the word and not word the, and a long word, not a word long.
- Rules that distinguish the standard varieties of a language from other varieties. For example, in standard English you might say ‘I don’t have any money’, while in some varieties you might say ‘I ain’t got no money’.
- Rules that are written in grammar books and which many people believe you should follow. For example, in English infinitives should never be split, sentences should never end with a prepostion, and you should never use a double negative. Many of these were just pet peeves and preferences of 18th century writers.
Then there are spelling and punctuation conventions, such as the use of commas, semi-colons and apostrophes.