June 18, 2019

M. J. Maddox, PhD
is the American English Doctor.
 
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Grammar is Glamorous

Thanks to the murky way grammar is taught in most public school classrooms– when it is taught at all–many Americans leave school dreading the very word.

Actually, the word grammar has cool connections.

In Greek, grammatike tekhne meant “art of letters” and referred to philology and literature. When the word gramarye came into English from French in the early 14th century, the word was used in the sense of “learning,” including the kind of learning that a magician would have.

Later on, grammar came to mean the rules of Latin grammar, and then, later still, the rules of any language.

Grammar to mean “higher learning” persisted in some contexts, and the association of grammar with occult knowledge evolved into the word glamor. Actually, the word seems much more glamorous with its British spelling:

glamour: 1720, Scottish, “magic, enchantment.” Sense of “magical beauty, alluring charm” first recorded 1840.

Another word that derives from grammar is grimoire.

grimoire: magician’s manual for invoking demons (1849).

In 18th century England, a “grammar school” was a school where boys learned Greek and Latin. In 19th century United States, a “grammar school” was a school between primary and secondary, where English grammar was taught.

Grammar remains a necessary tool in the discussion of usage. You can review the basics painlessly at my new site, BottomlineEnglish.com/.

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