Line & Length

How grammar faked its own death: a pseudo requiem for a colon

I first went to war against the Queen’s English as a mere boy of 6 years old. 

“You’re not in the colonies now, Master Marlon”, declared old Mrs Morgan, my septuagenarian school ma’am in England.  In my efforts to draw attention from my bright yellow “wellies” that stood in sharp contrast to the shiny knee-high
boots worn by the rest of the children, I blurted out an answer without thinking about pronunciation:

“Farv tarms teh-boll Miss Muh-gaan”. 

Life in a posh, public school for a newly transplanted Jamaican kid in 1970s England was an experience.

However, I did learn one lesson that has not only held true to this day, but benefited me in the business of copywriting and presenting.  Readers of all ages, from diverse backgrounds and different businesses harbour an innate distrust of poor grammar.  Let me be clear, I’m not referring to spelling and/or easily identifiable typo’s, I’m singling out the incorrect use and omission of proper grammar.

“W8 a sec Train, we in da 2Ks not 1979.  2daze society mbraces a mo laxd approach 2 lang’ den bak inna day. LOL”

True.  When you have 140 characters or less to broadcast or share a message, every character counts.  SMS? Ditto.  FB Updates? Same same…but different,
kinda.  You get the point though.  Everything from the 24 hour news cycle to
instant updates, blogs and feeds have made brevity and economy of words (oops characters) King, Queen, Judge, Jury and Executioner of the Written Word and its accomplice, Grammar.

Correct grammar isn’t cool, it is a superfluous blight on the relevance and forward motion of modern education and effective communication.  Or is it? (oh, why not)?!!

Being a close observer of pop culture, a sports fanatic and a devourer of blogs crafted by opinion makers  from Bill Simmons, Emily Yoshida, Sean McIndoe, Jay Caspian Kang to Gregg Easterbrook, Scott Ostler and an unnamed host of snide and witty writers from the UK, it seems that sound grammar has either made a huge comeback or it simply never went away. (bonus LL Cool J clip)

A premeditated day trip through the world of advertising to youthful urban market segments reveals the nerdish truth: marketeers are “sayn 1 ting” but writing quite another.

Ok, speed round:

“The 25 Best Bloggers 2013 edition” were all grammatically present and correct.

“Seventeen” magazine.  We assigned this reading to the intern (Ouch!) and found flagrant overuse of words like “like”, “totally” and “amazing” nonetheless, grammatically sound. Wow!

Top 50 urban magazinesHere’s the list of some of the coolest rags around and while some of them will “drop some language” and re-sculpt the accepted spelling of certain words, for the most part, exemplary grammar on the written pieces.

So what have we learned as we stampede towards my 550 word limit?

Two things:

1)  Not even urban blogs, teen mags and gamer sites are willing to risk damaging their brand with sloppy grammar.

2)  The key to gaining and keeping an audience or maintaining and growing a market is to be clear with the delivery of your message and correct grammar promotes this objective.

Grammar, despite what people may “say”, is a good thing whether you’re from the colonies or not. Y’unnerstan’?

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