I text message every day. Every day. Nonstop, back and forth, on and on. I am certain I am not alone in this phenomenon and that most people in the present do the same. However, as much as I adore the new systems we possess today, the truth and the downside are, everyone tends to get downright sloppy in their efforts to be speedy.
When Noguchi speaks of grammar and its connection to writing, I immediately thought of this analogy. When we text, we rarely proofread. Yet we manage to get our points across clearly and efficiently, regardless of proper grammar. We even invent our own language rules (ttyl, lol, etc.). As the article states: “Formal grammar cannot help, at least not directly, in the area of content. ‘Content’ involves cognitive meaning, or here, the basic idea or ideas that the writer wants to convey” (9). Clearly, grammar is not required for emphasizing a point. Unfortunately, that does not mean grammar should be left out completely either. While technology and fast networking provide and sustain us, opportunities such as these give people the excuse to forget or abandon grammar rules. Yes, grammar is boring. Yes, grammar is tedious and at times, difficult. This cannot be the reason to disconnect it completely from writing. As Noguchi states: “Like the near mythical omnipotence of cod-liver oil, the study of grammar became imbued with medicinal powers it simply did not possess, particularly with respect to writing ills” (15). People mistake grammar to be on a grander and more complex scale rather than an integral part of language. This is why it either becomes one of two extremes: forsaken or overused.
I have taught ESL courses in the past where students wrote with clear ideas but lacking the strength in their portrayal because of weak structure, or students who focused so much on the structure they lose sight of the actual concept. When comparing these experiences, I find that I agree with Noguchi in finding the balance between grammar and writing, as to create harmony between the two rather than a war (sorry, that’s a little cheesy). In essence, grammar should be taught, especially to those who are coming from a foreign background and whose rules vary vastly from the English language. To be an overall intelligent writer, however, requires one to manage both mechanics and content. Without one, the paper loses quality and the writing becomes too limited. As a tutor, it feels like my personal responsibility to aid students in recognizing this fact.