English Grammar: The Scientific Approach

The rules of grammar are so subjective and arbitrary that most comes with so many exceptions. In the face of Logic these exceptions instruct me NOT to treat english as an exact science.

In science, exception is tantamount to standing on shaky ground. A scientific law cannot be a law or a theory cannot be accepted as a theory unless it has been proven and backed up with facts that must always hold true anywhere without any exception at all. Creating a rule and then contradicting said rule is like having no rule at all.

The rule of adding “s” to form the plural of most nouns is a good example that carries contradicting rules. The words eraser becomes plural by adding s as in erasers; clock becomes clocks and dog becomes dogs. However, when the nouns end in s, sh, ch and x, the rules becomes complicated. Instead of adding s, es must be added to the word like – march becomes marches, dish to dishes and box becomes boxes. Moreover, this rule gets more confusing when the nouns end in o; like the plural for video is videos but hero must be heroes. Both words end in o but their plural form is totally unusual. And to make matters worse, why it is that the plural of mouse is mice, while for house it is not hice; for goose it is geese but for moose it is not meese. These rules are obviously strange and out of order. Would it be so difficult to make a simple rule that says: when a noun is singular, take it at is, but when the noun is plural then add s to it? That is the plural of march should be marchs, fish must be fishs, hero to heros, mouse to mouses, goose to gooses, moose to mooses and house to houses. Here, we can see that language would be simpler if structured grammar is scientifically and logically simplified!

Spelling is another interesting subject that needs a closer look. A simple chain email found its way into my inbox. The context was weird but intriguing yet still allowed a reader to understand the paragraph. This might be strange but worth sharing. Fi yuo cna raed teh praagaprh bleow, yuo hvae a graet mnid too.

I cdnuolt blveiee taht I cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd waht I wsa rdanieg. Teh phonmneal pweor of teh hmuan mnid, aoccdrnig to a rscheearch ta Cmabrigde Uinsrevity, it dseno’t mtaetr in waht oerdr teh ltteres in a wrod aer, teh olny iproamtnt tinhg is tath hte frsit and lsat ltteer be in teh rghit pclae. Teh rset anc be a taotl mses adn yuo cna sitll raed it whotuit a pboerlm. Tihs is bcuseae teh hmuan mnid deos nto raed ervey lteter by istlef, btu the wrod as a wlohe. Azanmig huh? Yaeh and I awlyas tghuhot slpeling wsa ipmorantt!

Furthermore, kids nowadays have created their own sets of language which are used in text messaging and online room chatting. This type of communication has been accepted all over the world through Internet and cell phones connectivities. Luk @ d samplx blw:

Lyf ìs trüly wyze: it mde sadnez so we’d kno joy, paìn so we’d hav pleazur, war so we’d seek piz, hte so we cn 143 & PM so we cn fce a nue day. 10x. omg. lolz. cya l8r.

Translation: Life is truly wise: it made sadness so we would know joy, pain so we would have pleasure, war so we would seek peace, hate so we can love and night so we can face a new day. Thank you. Oh my gosh. Laughing out loud. See you later.

Even with copy editors, grammar teachers, doctors in literature, English students who individually edited the same sample page of my manuscript, incredibly, have their own ways of  correcting errors grammatically. Some of them even alter the content of my scientific paper loosely. From this simple experiment, I found out that people from different parts of the world who speak the english language have their own rules and styles too.

But, have you ever thought why there are lots of exceptions in the english language? From my research, I found out the following reasons:

1. The sentence does not sound right.
2. The construction does not look correct.
3. The sentence is easier for the eyes to see or read.
4. The word is hard to pronounce or is a tongue twister.
5. Different writers have different styles.
6. Different cultures have different methods.
7. Most linguists are not mathematicians.
8. Words or nouns are non-Latin etymologically.
9. The rule is a remnant of the declension system.
10.The usage and style have been used habitually since antiquity.

Why did we say grammarians are not mathematicians!

Let us discuss the a simple example: punctuations marks:  <!,:-)….

Just like the algebraic expressions in mathematics, english has its own parenthetical expressions. However, english expressions do not sound logical in its structure and syntax.

In math and even in computer programming,  brackets [ ] , parentheses ( ), quotations ” ” are used in orderly successions. This simply means that if  an open bracket is used in the beginning of a mathematical expression, it must also end with a close bracket like in  [ x + y / 3 -m ].  If  both brackets and parentheses are used, the equation should follow the arrangement  [ ( ……… ) ]  and not [ ( …….. ] ).  If ellipses (…) represent a mathematical statement then, the format of combining the three punctuation marks used here should be ” [ ( ……… ) ] ”  or [ ” ( ……… ) ” ]  and not (“[ ………”)].

Or, in the quoted expression – The title of the book is “Evolution of Creation.” –  the period at the end of the sentence must be outside the quotations. Although we are not talking about math here, the statement is algebraically wrong.  Also, the sentence seems incomplete or dangling waiting for a completion. From these two examples, quotation marks should not end a sentence. Period should always be outside the quotations.

With regards to numbers, linguists say the following sentence is confusing: There were 12 6-foot men in the laker’s team. So they rewrite it to this: There were 12 six-foot men in the team. And they said that it would be clearer if it is written this way: There were twelve six-foot men in the team. I do not see any difference at all among the three. They are all the same written in different styles. Obviousy there is no such thing as a 126-foot man and logically it is not confusing.

Some experts do not even agree that  “It’s me” is correct. They say, it should be “It’s I”. And because it is impolite to put yourself first like in – “I and dad always play scrabble”,  the sentence will be more polite if the construction would be; ” Dad and I always play scrabble”.

Another inconsitent rule in grammar is the word ( or letter?) –  I, which is obviously singular in form but actually can be used both either as ” I was …” or “I were ….”.

So who made any grammatical mistakes here:  me, I or myself?

And why it is right to say ” today I take, yesterday I took”, and it is wrong to say ” today I bake, yesterday I book”. Hmmm, my brain hurts.

Pronouns ending with (any)one, (no)body, and (every)thing  are always singular. Each, either, neither, another, little, much need singular verbs. While, both, several, few, many, most and others need plural verbs. However, any, some, most, all, more, none, enough, who, none can be either singular or plural. And these pronouns could be a she, a he or an it.

So if I write: If anyone is sick, they must have an excuse letter. (the agreement is wrong: anyone is singular; they is plural).  If anyone is sick, he must have a letter. (this sentence is sexist; why not use she?). So to be fair, the sentence must be: if anyone is sick, he or she must have a letter; or if anyone is sick,  s/he/it must bring a letter. Even better : Anyone who is sick must have (or has?) a letter. How come there is no single word for s/he/it? Can I coin a new word: shet or sheit,  probably? LoL.

By the way, I always see people use the colloquial word anyways. Well the right word is anyway. Alright is confused with all right, All ready is confused with already, and as follow should always be as follows.  Likewise, double talk like: rise up, final outcome, mix together, return again might sound fine to the ears but theyare actually eyesores.

Pair is singular while pairs is plural. But the meaning of pair is two of any kind. So the word pair is plural already in content and calls for a plural verb. Although it is a collective noun like herd and group which are single entities, both are still made up of items more than two. For this reason, dualpair which means two pairs or four of a kind should also call for a plural verb.

Here are some more paradigmatic examples of “incorrect” agreement:

It is well known that one of the fundamental rules of grammar is that the parts of a sentence must agree with each other. Singular noun must agree with singular verb.

In “She has a doll”, the verb “has” agrees with the noun “she”. The word “She” is obviously a single entity.

In “I has a toy”, the verb “has” agrees with the noun “I”. Obviously “I” is a single entity. However, linguists rules otherwise. The sentence is grammatically incorrect, not because of its syntax, but because it does not sound right to the ears. The correct sentence should be “I have a toy”.

Another example is the use of everyone. Obviously everyone is a comparative word that denotes more than two. Therefore everyone requires a plural verb.

In, “Everyone is eating their food”, everyone agrees with the verb “is”. However, the pronoun “their” which is plural in form doesn’t agree with the subject. So the sentence is grammatically incorrect.

The correct sentence is “Everyone is eating his/her food.” To me, this sounds ridiculous and illogical. Collective nouns like army, jury, and people must be plural in form.  Brits follow the latter rule. They are just smarter than the copy-cat Americans.

Now, what about the sentence: Each person is entitled to their opinion. Is this Right or wrong?

And why it is wrong to end a sentence with a preposition or begin one with a conjunction? Who set all these stupid rules?

Another interesting rule is using the word “they. Take note that the pronoun THEY is accepted as SINGULAR. It can be used in formal speech but not in formal writing. WOW!!! A glaring stupidity! And if this is the case that every part of a sentence must agree with each other, then it follows that every sentence in a paragraph must agree with each other too!

Well, I want to see now what you have to say about this article. Ooppss, of course, this is an incorrect statement – ” you do not hear with your eyes”. LOL. Let me rephrase the sentence: ” I want to hear now what you have to say about my article”. Hmmm…. another paradoxical mnemonic! LOL.

BTW, most probably many of you do not know that English is not the national language of America. If we combine both north and south america, majority of its inhabitants speak spanish. Even in the United States (north america) itself, English is just considered as a de facto language. It is not the official language since English is made up of the american english, canadian english, european english, australian english, and the ebonic english. On the other hand, the most spoken language all around the world is chinese, followed by spanish, and then english.

English is a native language or mother tongue not only in the United State but other countries as well. It originated from the British or the United Kingdom.  Canada, Africa, Australia, Carribean, Europe, Oceania, South Atlantic and United States use English also as their first language. However, British English has evolved by borrowing roots from other languages and, in the process when it landed in America, it has adopted inconsistent rules for usage, pronounciation, and spelling.

For example British people do not go to the hospital; they go to hospital or go in hospital. Politicians in US run for office; In Britain, they stand for office. In the U.S., they sometimes use plural verbs for singular subjects as we have seen in our examples previously. And when it comes to spelling, color is to americans; colour is to british, jewelry to americans; jewellry to british, traveling to americans; travelling to british. Are you now skeptical or sceptical? Is it right to say aluminum or aluminium? Is English english or not?

The rules of English, just like the stories or passages in the bible, have little or no basis at all scientifically. The idea that we must use a singular verb for collective nouns; or that we must use “each other” for two things and “one another” for more than two are rules that are totally absurb. Common sense is all that it takes and counting how many objects in the subject with our fingers is all that we need to determine if a noun is plural or singular.  English must be scientifically and logically stable before it can be embraced universally. Any exception to the rule creates chaos. And chaos doesn’t bring peace, harmony and understanding.

And of course, if grammarians and linguists find the following actual sentences found in patients’ hospital charts as absurd, they might need to think twice:

  1. “Patient has chest pain if she lies on her left side for over a year.”
  2. “She has no rigors or shaking chills, but her husband states she was very hot in bed last night.”
  3. “The patient refused autopsy.”
  4. “Patient was alert and unresponsive.”
  5. Examination of genitals reveals he is circus sized.
  6. “On the 2nd day her knee was better and on the 3rd day it disappeared.”
  7. “The patient has been depressed ever since she began seeing me in 1993.”
  8. “Discharge status: Alive but without permission.”
  9. “Healthy appearing decrepit 69 year-old male, mentally alert but forgetful.”
  10. “The patient has no previous history of suicides.”
  11. “Patient has left white blood cells at another hospital.”
  12. “Patient’s past medical history has been remarkably insignificant with only a 40 pound weight gain in the past three days.”
  13. “Patient had waffles for breakfast and anorexia for lunch.”
  14. “She is numb from her toes down.”
  15. “While in the ER, she was examined, X-rated and sent home.”
  16. “The skin was moist and dry.”
  17. “Occasional, constant, infrequent headaches.”
  18. “She stated that she had been constipated for most of her life, until she got a divorce.”
  19. “Patient has two teenage children but no other abnormalities.”
  20. “Skin: Somewhat pale but present.”
  21. “Patient was seen in consultation by Dr. Blank, who felt we should sit on the abdomen, and I agree.”
  22. “By the time he was admitted, his rapid heart stopped, and he was feeling better.”
  23. “When she fainted, her eyes rolled around the room.”
  24. “Patient was released to outpatient department without dressing.”
  25. “The patient expired on the floor uneventfully.”
  26. “Both breasts are equal and reactive to light and accomodation.

 “Energy is the language of Nature and Nature is the origin of all information”. ~ Joey Lawsin

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