Good or bad grammar? (TU18)

This unit explores how and why elements of grammar come to be judged as good or bad. The discussion explores factors such as awareness, exposure to other dialects, and personal beliefs and ideologies about language. The unit provides a hands-on usage judgement exercise in which students can be asked to identify grammatical problems in a job application letter. The unit provides the results of a survey using this sample text, and illustrates differential awareness of grammatical points, reflecting changing awareness and therefore changing norms over time with respect to how grammar is judged. The exercise can be used to remind students that language norms are particular to a specific point in time. In this perpetual cycle of prescriptivism, one person’s ‘bad grammar’ can be another (often younger) person’s new norm. All data and examples are from Ebner (2017). Activities and discussion points are suggested at the end.

Discussion points

Linguistics Research Digest link