Grammar – the Universal Phenomenon

OrderYou know that feeling when you’ve tidied up the house and everything is clean and neatly arranged? Or when you’ve finally got round to filing all the documents that have been lying around in scattered piles for ages? Or that feeling of freedom and accomplishment when you at long last have got through your to-do list? Well, that is how I feel about grammar.

I have never understood the sigh of boredom that often follows when the word “grammar” is mentioned. Of course, grammar can be complex and sometimes there might not even be one perfect, final answer, but it does nonetheless give you a structure, order and guidance on how to use a language.

Language defines grammar. What is so comforting is that, opposed to language, grammar, meaning syntax, semantics and morphology, hardly ever changes and stays the same year after year, century after century. And the most fascinating is that it has come together over many years created collectively by language users, not by experts as many people falsely assume. Generally, languages and their grammatical systems weren’t produced purposely and consequently taught to people. There are exceptions to this. One example is the auxiliary language Esperanto which is a language created in the late 1870s by linguist L. L. Zamenhof whose aim was to create a politically neutral language in Białystok in the Russian Empire. Today’s so-called conlangers (a constructed language maker) create languages for films, TV series, books etc. with Tolkien being the all-time father of artificial languages. But let’s save these for another blog post. The focus of this artice is on the languages that have been created over time by humans and that are the languages you and I speak. The point I am trying to get across is that the ceation of these natural languages just happens and along with these also an elaborate grammatical system which suggests that a collective group of people have an inbuilt feeling for structure. I really think that is highly fascinating! While it develops collectively, experts have the undivided pleasure of undertaking extended research in order to categorise how you and I use language. What is not to like?

Kira Petersen

Photo by Edgaras Maselskis