Language and Grammar

I am particularly sensitive to grammatical mistakes in the German language, since it isn’t my native tongue. I like to think my English grammar is pretty good, but I know my German grammar is just barely acceptable, though I’ve been speaking it for twenty years now. Nevertheless, I hear Germans making grammatical mistakes in their own language all the time. It’s forgivable in the heat of a verbal conversation, but I’ll admit it sticks in my craw when I read it in normal prose, dialog aside, no matter in which language.
It’s about the flow of a story, for me. Prose has a flow, a rhythm to it, that makes it beautiful, or not. That is part of style, so you can’t simply separate grammar from style, because grammar facilitates a proper rhythm. Prose with sentences that are grammatically false is like a road with potholes, you’re always bouncing up and down, you can’t get comfortable with reading it. Like music with sudden jarringly false notes inserted, it simply doesn’t flow. Besides, there is more than enough flexibility in English grammar to encompass wildly different styles of writing without breaking the rules.
And, after all, language is an important part of the human cultural legacy that is passed on continuously, and it’s self-inherent beauty should be preserved. It’s also about proper communication, and that can’t be done when there are no common rules which everyone adheres to. That said, we also have to realize that languages are living, ever-changing beasts. The rules will be continuously bent and sometimes broken, and if enough people break and bend the same rules in the same way, it becomes common usage and will be accepted as correct grammar.
A good example of this can be seen in Germany, where the English language exerts an increasing influence over the last years. In both languages you have the possessive form, which is denoted in English by an apostrophe and the letter s attached to the noun in question, as in ”Martha’s dog“. In German it’s almost the same, except that there is actually no apostrophe, just the letter s attached, as in ”Marthas Hund“. However, over the last twenty years I have observed that the usage with apostrophe has become more and more common in the German language, though it is quite simply wrong, and I am willing to bet gold ingots against donuts that it will be accepted common usage in another ten years.
So, what’s write, and what’s rong? You’ll have to decide for yourself.

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