Stephen Fry on Grammar

In the early days of blogging, I stumbled across two individuals that I feel have an amazing handle on the English language. Their vocabularies astound me and the ease with which they throw together a sentence blows me away. Reading a paragraph by either of them is like standing ankle-deep in the ocean. Wave after wave of words undulates along the sand of your mind to tickle your senses and yet you never feel overwhelmed. You just stand there in awe at the vastness of the paragraph before you and glory in the soothing sensation you receive from reading the words. They fit. They flow. They amuse. They have a life all of their own, the way writing should be, regardless if it is meant to be funny or serious.

While catching up on one of these two peeps this week, I glanced through the comments and saw something that nearly made me laugh out loud (which was a problem because I was in the library. They frown upon such behavior there.)

Some person, perhaps well-meaning or perhaps self-satisfied, had approached one of them with a little cough and “ahem” and said, “excuse me but run-on sentences are not proper grammar.”

I have a secret for you world out there. MANY bestselling authors who make LOADS of money employ the occasional (or frequent) run-on sentence when writing. If you’ve missed them, then you aren’t reading enough. I greatly admire the ability to use a run-on sentence. I don’t think I possess it myself. Mine end up looking very much like a run-on sentence, and, I’m fairly certain, do not cause my reader to have the ocean like experience that I derive from the two people above mentioned. In fact, I believe it was Neil Gaiman that I was reading when I realized an ENTIRE paragraph was composed of one long, flowing, beautiful run-on sentence. I went back and read it twice because It was so perfectly composed.

I love grammar. I love language. But please, writing is ART! Let us not mock the Picasso’s of this generation. It’s one thing to not buy a tee shirt and advertise your stupidity, but it’s another thing to prevent a painter from using the colors that they choose on their own canvas. So, writers, go ahead and move the ear to the collarbone of your creation. You have my permission and sympathy, as well as Stephen Fry’s and he’s a lot cooler than me. 😉

12 thoughts on “Stephen Fry on Grammar

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  1. I chanced upon Stephen Fry’s video some time last year, and to be honest it indeed changed my ways, in a manner of saying. Before, I proclaimed myself as a Grammar Hitler (that’s right: much worse than just a Grammar Nazi): punctuating here and there, correcting misspellings, and for the most part insisting on the correct usage of prepositions. But I came across Stephen Fry’s video, watched it earnestly, and being the open-minded bloke that I am, rewired my brain (again, in a manner of saying).

    Writing is an art indeed; no less an art than abstract painting or surrealistic sketching. And for many artists, they make up their own rules, if not bend and break the existing rules. Art is all about self-expression, and quite frankly pedantry has no place in the wonderful world of art. Rules make order, but self-expression demands to be let out of that cage of order every so often. I realised that being pedantic will only serve to stress me and close my eyes to the deeper beauty of the world around me.

    Rachel, thank you so much for reminding me of this very important and life-changing message!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I read the same comment on our mutual friend’s blog and was highly amused by it too. All the more-so because it is almost said blogger’s trademark! Said blogger being The President and Founder who I need to stop calling ‘blogger’ as tis an outrage when he has such a fine name just sitting there waiting to be called upon. My reply under his post to the moaner was in the form of…as very, very long sentence. Of course *winks*. And writing most surely IS art. A superb example of this is to be found in a book called ‘House of Leaves’ by Mark Danielewski.

    And as ever, Stephen Fry is superb. Great post Rachel. *smiles*.

    – sonmi upon the Cloud

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It is true that it was our dear President and Founder to which I refer. I saw your reply and his, both of which I throughly enjoyed reading, especially since it is you, my dearest Sonmi, that is the other wordsmith I so greatly admire.
      I don’t mean to be too unfair to the commenter, perhaps they meant well, but as you say it is his trademark. I did find myself murmuring softly aloud, “has this person ever READ his blog?” *shakes head sadly*

      Liked by 1 person

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