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?