Friday, October 14, 2011

"Superstition ain't the way"

We have already covered all of the superstitions that I have ever heard; don't start a sentence with a conjunction, don't end a sentence with a preposition, there is some magical maximum length for a sentence, or that one should always use a comma before "and."

I first heard that those were myths when I took AP English in high school. The first week was spent debunking those myths with examples of excellent writing that break each of those rules.

It has been interesting as I have proceeded through my degree to find out some of the background on why those rules have come to be. For example, the idea that we can't split infinitives because it is impossible to do in Latin-based languages, or the same basic reason for why we aren't supposed to end a sentence in a preposition.

My theory is that many of these myths have been perpetuated through teachers taking the easier route of telling students not to do something rather than explaining, if they know, the reason why it is frowned upon or how to do something correctly. When all of the time and energy in a class is focused on getting students to write a simple grammatically correct sentence, it is difficult to spend time on more complex ideas like how to properly use semicolons or when it is appropriate to start a sentence with a conjuction.


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