This may be counter-intuitive, but I registered for a grammar class. I am aware that most people are enthused to leave sentence structure, the correct use of commas, and dangling participles in elementary school. However, some people need structure to keep from getting lost in this world--and I am one of those people.
The catalyst of this decision occurred after I studied Spanish in college. Anyone who knew me at the time could tell you that I took full advantage of that class. I would argue that, for a split-second, I might have even been fluent, but something about learning a new language fussed up my original one. I started to blank on English words, English phrases, entire English thoughts and sentences... to the point where it became uncomfortable to engage in an intellectual conversation. This being a problem because stories told to me by strangers inspire 90% of the creativity in my work.
I thought that if I continued writing it would positively effect the eloquence of my speech and I would return to normal. Luckily, to some degree, it did make it easier to engage with others, but I would still stumble on past and present tense verbs, enunciation, and effectively developing sentences with multiple concepts. So for a greater part of a year, I was struggling to communicate in a language that I believed to be intrinsic, but come to find out, even familiar words become lost and memory isn't forever.
Which brings me to the true purpose of this blog post: to complete an assignment. Describe a response to something that you learnt this week about writing. It's a loaded prompt. How often do you really learn about writing?
From the class, I learned that there are two sorts of grammarians: descriptivists and prescriptivists. The former studies how people use language while the later studies how people should use language. I could guess that you would believe, after reading from before, that I identify with the prescriptivists. And it's true, I believe that there is a proper way to use language that is precise and effective, but truly I most reckon with descriptivists. I believe that the rules are derived from natural usage and change depending on how antiquated a rule becomes. I believe that language is a democratic process that changes every day by the will of the people. With the help of this course, I will be able to regain the fundamental tools needed to participate and join the conversation.
About the Writer
Rannie McCants is a Harlem-based writer intimately involved in social activism. She studied Dramatic Writing at New York University and writes theater reviews for blogs that promote new theater works. Her own plays have been acted in festivals and small performance theaters around New York City. She became a semi-finalist for the 2010 Robert Fox Award for Young Writers and in 2012 she was selected to be a Mamie Earl Sells Scholar by the YWCA. Most recently, she became a 2017 Superior Performance Award recipient for her non-profit service to the McBurney YMCA. Rannie regularly volunteers her fundraising and writing skills for non-profit organizations that support civil rights and healthy lifestyle initiatives. Her unique activist and writing background has attracted the interest of television programs like The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore and America by the Numbers with Maria Hinojosa. Presently, Rannie is working on completing a pilot series dedicated to unmasking the humor and complexity of living as an "other" in a contemporary mid-western society.