If there was one freedom that I wanted badly when I was young, it was the freedom from grammar rules!!! I hated rules in general, but I had a special dislike for grammar rules. I hated grammar in all the three languages I learned – English, Tamil & Hindi.
One English teacher in my early high-school asked me why I hated grammar so much. I talked about the importance of how grammar rules ought to automatically be implanted into the student’s mind indirectly through reading, listening, etc. I told her that thrusting grammar rules (especially on me) would not make much difference to the learning process.
I guess she was irritated by my attitude, especially as I was questioning the authority of people who design the syllabus. Yes, I was an illuminated personality even back then
One day during a class,
Teacher: What is the question form for, ‘I have a chocolate’
Student 1: ‘Haven’t I?’
Teacher & Everybody: Yaaaaaayyyyyyyy *claps*
Teacher: What is the question form for, ‘I should pass the exam’
Student 2: ‘Shouldn’t I?’
Teacher & Everybody: Yaaaaayyyyyyyyy *claps*
Then it was my turn. I wasn’t aware that the teacher had a clear-cut plan.
Teacher: You? Ok, tell me what is the question form of, ‘I am going to school tomorrow’
Me: (After thinking for sometime) ‘Amn’t I’?
Teacher & Everybody: HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA
Teacher: So Mr. Learning-by-reading-and-observing, where did you read this Amn’t I? The correct answer is ‘Aren’t I?’, you over-talkative boy. I always knew that you were fit for nothing. And to hide your laziness and casual attitude, you come up with intelligent-sounding excuses. At least from now on, start learning from your grammar book.
I felt bad. For English. I thought, which dumbo could come up with the question form, ‘Aren’t I?’ when such a comfortable and easy-to-remember ‘Amn’t I?’ was very much available? I thought whoever came up with that grammar rule was probably a poor overworked soul who needed some rest to get back to his/her senses. Of course, I didn’t say as much in the class
Later on, I went and told my Tamil Teacher that I was omitting grammar. We had a separate book for grammar for that year. She asked, ‘Which lesson’? I said, ‘The entire book, of course’. The teacher was shocked. But she didn’t realize the strategy behind my decision because grammar was worth only 10 marks in the exams. I just chose to concentrate on the remaining 90 while simultaneously avoiding a big headache
Hindi was the third language and we studied it only for three years. Back then (due to my attitude of ignoring grammar) I had no idea that there was only one translation for, ‘The cuckoo sings’. I used to translate it as, ‘Koel gaata hai’, ‘Koel gaati hai’ or ‘Koel gate hai’ depending on my mood No wonder there were so many red marks in my answer paper!
It is my opinion that what is said (message) is more important than how it is said (grammar). Yes, I can come up with creative excuses for neglecting grammar. Even now, I hate proofreading my blog. I hate it I hate it I haaaaaaattttttttteeeeeeeee ittttttttttttt
How about you?