Language of Mutilation: Grammar for Ads & Life
Grammar is like K-Y Jelly — when used correctly, everyone benefits. But copywriters and art directors find equal pleasure wreaking grammatical havoc, the results of which Strunk and White deemed “the mutilation of language” back in 1918. They’d likely cringe at Honda Civic’s tagline “To Each Their Own.” (Do you know why?) And sometimes there are good reasons to disregard the evolving commandments of English language construction, like how pronouns must agree with their antecedents, especially when following the “rules” will turn off your reader. But even in 2012, some things should be right every time. Who the hell are Strunk and White? And what are these things we should get right? Come find out. We’ll talk about where these “rules” came from, the assumptions made about those who appear not to follow them and a few grammar basics. Punctuation isn’t so boring if you think about quotation marks as little hugs, ravishing commas and periods. It’s almost hot, in a syntactic kind of way.
I’ve worked as an editor since 2004, now in advertising. For a few years before that I tried to teach college students how to avoid the passive voice and get their verbs to agree with their subjects. And I spent the late ‘90s reading and writing a lot to earn a master’s degree in English.
Grammar has always been a story I can tell. Each word and punctuation mark are pieces of the story that interact with the pieces around them to make meaning. Understanding the relationships between the pieces, rearranging them to clarify meaning, choosing different pieces when possible, altering the story to fit the reader — that sh*t gets me going. Grammatically.
Also, I'll break the rules to strengthen the text. To make it pop. Style guides be damned — I'll snap and crackle it if you'll let me.