I’m sure we all have grammatical peeves, and one has been blatantly in my eye for some reason over the last several weeks. It’s in the press, in supposedly well written fiction, and all over the place in emails and comments on Facebook. At what point did it become acceptable to leave out the apostrophe that connotes possession? I saw “in Jesus name,” “Harrys dog” and “the boys baseball equipment” in one three hour stretch yesterday. I won’t even go into the more arcane rule of the “someone’s knowing” construction, because even many literate people don’t recognize it.
One of the issues that writers must face is whether to use the current vernacular in writing or to correct the grammar as a model for better usage among our readers. Speech is almost always more free form than the written word, and I have no difficulty using the “now” language in dialog. But to adopt it in the expository writing of a document is to say that it’s acceptable, a position that I decidedly do not adopt.
When I review works presented at my workshop, I make the corrections as needed but have no way of knowing if the writer accepts my comments. I even saw grammatical errors in the “fixes” my late editor (of whom I have written elsewhere) made to some of my sentences.
Is grammar dead? Or only being loosened up in the professional writing community? I suspect that young writers had so little grammar education in their youth that they can be excused somewhat for their failure to know the rules. But editors, whether of books or of news articles or journals, should know them.