August 31st, 2005


The parable of Why Grammar Is Good.

A cool wind whistled down the slopes of the rugged hill, rustling the leaves and shaking the branches of the trees it encountered. In a sheltered hollow by the entrance of a cave, a small tribe of humans huddled around a fire, awaiting the return of the three tribesmen who had gone hunting for the day's food.

"hungry i is food for ate" groaned Yuri, patting his growling stomach.

"TOO I ARE!!" replied Jacques, who clearly grasped what Yuri had said.

"i....dont no...if i ya get......." said Martin. He wore a confused expression as he stared at the rest of the tribe, who were looking equally baffled as they stared back at him.

"No You Sense - Make Not;;;" observed Svetlana. She hadn't understood a word that had been said.

"is food where" Yuri groaned again, but he was ignored.

"i sICK aM oF cONFUSION aLL!." yelled Zinzan, leaping to his feet in complete frustration at the lack of comprehensible communication between tribesmembers.

"No To You Sense - Make Not;::" Svetlana yelled just as loudly back at Zinzan as she rose to confront him.

"yOU tO aDDING aRE oF cONFUSION aLL!." Zinzan was in a fury, so was Svetlana, and as they moved closer to each other, the rest of the tribe, with tempers frayed, joined the argument too. They bickered amongst themselves for ten minutes, each trying to argue the merits of their speech while being totally misunderstood by everyone else, but they were all suddenly brought to silence by the return of the three hunters. Although they had to be vicious to acquire meat for the tribe, the three were actually peaceful types and immediately set to work to discern the problem. They quickly realised the problem was that there were no set rules of grammar, allowing each member of the tribe to form sentences as they saw fit. The three, who all spoke in a relatively similar manner, had a quick discussion amongst themselves, decided on a plan of attack, and then sat down with the tribe to create rules of grammar for their language.

"Now we can all understand each other!" Zinzan exclaimed with joy two hours later as he hugged Svetlana.

A few thousand years later, a destructive invention known as the Internet was populated by preteens and teenagers and English returned to its grammarless dark ages.