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My Reviewer Friend

Posted by rajasirji on October 9, 2009 at 10:47 PM

As time teaches and minds expand,language arts grow from one master's hand, to hand, to another, fromone country to another, as an outcome, the reader smiles, at the fault;he finds, with time. (Said a genius)




What I have generally observed is that the native speakers of aparticular language take it for granted that they have a better rightover their language than the non native speakers. They forget thatthere may be many other places where the same language is spoken andwritten in a very different style. The native speakers believe thattheir use of language is correct but actually it is not so. They say sobecause the prescriptive grammar teaches them to do so and they neverpay attention to the descriptive use of language which falls into thestudy area of linguistics. In schools they are taught that commasshould be placed at this point and that point, articles should be usedin this way or that way, the spacing should be provided here and thereand so on. What I have observed in past 30 years is that most of theNobel Prizes for literature have gone to the outsiders, if I may say so.





Last week a learned friend of mine came to meet me.Obviously, hewas from the West. He had the dubious honor of being the author of someself published books. He was discussing with some people about theproper use of language. He is a good writer of stories but has hardlyever read the English giants. There is one more friend who is a kind ofteasing clown. He came with a piece of printed paper and requested mylearned friend to review the following lines:



"Studies serve for delight, for ornament, and for ability. Theirchief use for delight, is in privateness and retiring; for ornament, isin discourse; and for ability, is in the judgment, and disposition ofbusiness. For expert men can execute, and perhaps judge of particulars,one by one; but the general counsels, and the plots and marshalling ofaffairs, come best, from those that are learned."




The review was like this: improper and excessive use of commas,spacing not proper, and semicolons not required.....................




My clown friend simply said, "Sir, this is the opening paragraph of the essay "Of Studies" by Francis Bacon..."




My learned friend's face was not dissimilar to a clown's. It revealed everything without any emotion.




( I hope my learned friends must have got a very clear message thatI want to convey through this humorous episode. If commas and spacescould win the laurel, all the grammarians would be the winners ofNobels, Bookers and Pulitzers.A reviewer should not praise or criticizea work on the basis of the trivial technicalities which could bepolitely pointed to if there are any, without being harsh on thewriter. In some cases a writer makes his/her own grammar of text whichcomes under performance, as we name it in linguistics,and which mightseem awkward to the people with the competence because competence isalways prescriptive, or in simple words all that is taught in thelanguage class in schools. )



Raja sir



I have no intention of offending anyone.Please take it verylightly.The younger generation should be inspired to read the bookswritten by the great masters of the glorious past of English Languageas used in many other countries.I am sure that the majority of themwill go mad if they read just one essay "Essay on Human Understanding"by a great master of the past.



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