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 was in the library. They frown upon such behaviour 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. 😉