Subjectivity of Grammar


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Thread: Subjectivity of Grammar

  1. #1

    Subjectivity of Grammar

    So i've been analysing some of my past LM scores (just one way i procrastinate) and one odd thing i noticed was that of all the scores (SPaG, Tone and Voice, Reaction, Evaluation), my spelling and grammar had the greatest variance.

    I would have thought that would be the most consistent score as it's the only category with rules that are either broken or not, and that reaction - deliberately a subjective category - would have the most variance.

    How would you interpret this? Maybe there's just more room for creativity with grammar than i think.

  2. #2
    Global Moderator Squalid Glass's Avatar
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    It could be that the judges have varying degrees of grammar expertise.

    But to a degree, grammar is subjective when it comes to creative writing. In fiction, most authors use grammar and punctuation to fit their style more than to be technically correct.
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    Member hvysmker's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Squalid Glass View Post
    It could be that the judges have varying degrees of grammar expertise.

    But to a degree, grammar is subjective when it comes to creative writing. In fiction, most authors use grammar and punctuation to fit their style more than to be technically correct.
    I can't use a grammar editor. It's a waste of time.

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by hvysmker View Post
    I can't use a grammar editor. It's a waste of time.
    I use grammarly selectively - for text outside of dialogue, but take its 'corrections' as suggestions rather than edicts.

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    Member Sir-KP's Avatar
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    Interesting. I used to read some local novels in bookstore display for quick research. I noticed some of them were written in a bit... unconventional way with chaotic grammar and punctuation placed everywhere.

    I thought those were horrible mess that makes my writing looks like a seasoned writer's piece of art. But then I realized that I actually was able to get the emotion.

    That means the writer had successfully delivered, no?

  6. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Squalid Glass View Post
    It could be that the judges have varying degrees of grammar expertise.

    But to a degree, grammar is subjective when it comes to creative writing. In fiction, most authors use grammar and punctuation to fit their style more than to be technically correct.
    Quite possibly, i could do further analysis to find out - but i doubt i'll find that much time to procrastinate.


    Quote Originally Posted by Sir-KP View Post
    Interesting. I used to read some local novels in bookstore display for quick research. I noticed some of them were written in a bit... unconventional way with chaotic grammar and punctuation placed everywhere.

    I thought those were horrible mess that makes my writing looks like a seasoned writer's piece of art. But then I realized that I actually was able to get the emotion.

    That means the writer had successfully delivered, no?
    It is interesting. One of my main goals in entering LM competitions was to improve my grammar - i thought it would be possible to consistently get 5/5 for grammar every time. Apparently not. Still, it would be nice to be able to deliberately ignore certain grammar rules rather than stumble over them.

    On a related note: how far do people think learning grammar intuitively can take you?

    I've never formally learnt it - just about know the technical difference between verbs and adjectives - but i feel i've read enough to able construct grammatically correct sentences most of the time.

  7. #7
    Interesting question. Which story are you talking about?

    It might be hit and miss on what people notice. In one story you wrote:

    Her name was Sophie, and I could actually talk to her. I think she is French,...
    Setting can be either past tense or present, but you have to be consistent, so switching from "was" to "is" is wrong. But how many people would notice that? Or, I guess, care, though it bothered me.

    This sentence invites a variety of opinions.

    Not surprised, the way prof. H covers the material, took me ages to undo his bad habits; at least half the reason I’m so far behind.
    It think it might depend on how much the judge wants to concede that as a matter of style for that piece versus going to far.

    Then you can get into some people thinking the SpAG should follow the rules and some not. I don't think I ever experienced a problem with that, so I am guessing that's not an issue.
    English is a good language for people who like to be creative and expressive, not for people who want words to fit into boxes and stay there.

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  8. #8
    Did i write that? Yeah, the first one is noticeable, i'd agree that tense changes are a black and white case.

    The second looks fine to me: i get exactly what the author is trying to convey. I would also be fine with a comma in place of the semi-colon. As i understand it grammar serves understanding, and in both cases i understand the intent. But that may be my ignorance about correct usage - what is the grammatical error in that sentence?

  9. #9
    As to your question about intuitive learning. My mother was an English teacher (among other things). I was brought up to speak grammatically and I am good at forming my words, I think. That is all intuitive. However when it comes to writing, and things like punctuation rules, it is another thing. I had to learn how to use commas for example. They are pretty basic. It seems intuitive understanding of language equates to oral learning, listening.

    I have spent a lifetime reading, and read books aloud to children, and I think I made pretty good choices. The punctuation rules don't seem to have stuck at all though. There are other things I have picked up from it, things like the order of presenting facts, and where to put a twist. I suppose in the wider sense that is grammar.
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  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by epimetheus View Post
    The second looks fine to me: i get exactly what the author is trying to convey. I would also be fine with a comma in place of the semi-colon. As i understand it grammar serves understanding, and in both cases i understand the intent. But that may be my ignorance about correct usage - what is the grammatical error in that sentence?
    It's so far away from grammatical that it's hard to identify the errors. It would be all comma splices except they're fragments.

    It makes sense, so someone might not score you down at all. It fits the style of that story, so someone might not grade you down for that. Someone who likes grammar probably would have to calm down before giving you a zero.

    You asked why the SPaG scores varied.

    Judges vary too. On everything. So, like, I never took off for spelling errors. Those seemed vanishingly unimportant. I had one judge give me 7/10 for content and the other judge 0/10
    English is a good language for people who like to be creative and expressive, not for people who want words to fit into boxes and stay there.

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