Grammar is a contentious point. Some argue that it’s horrifyingly appalling that ANYONE would ever utter the words “I drive pretty good”. (This, of course, is because good is an adjective, good is modifying drive, which is a verb, and our forefathers fought and died so that verbs would never be subjugated by adjectives.) Some would even argue that you are a fool, an ill-educated ass, and a corner-dwelling dunce if you managed to emerge from your schooling without learning that periods are properly placed INSIDE of quotation marks.

I am not a member of these groups, and I’m fighting back. Grammar should not be articles of faith handed down to us from those on high who never split infinitives but always split hairs. Grammar should be rules that allow us to communicate more efficiently, clearly, and understandably. I’m not advocating the abolition of grammar, but rather its justification. I’m not quite sure what that will entail in the end, but I’m starting out by pointing out grammar rules that just don’t make sense, don’t work, or don’t have any justification. All I want is for our rules of grammar to be well-motivated.

If you have any thoughts on this, especially if you have grammar rules that need motivated, drop me a line. [motivatedgrammar gmail com]

And about me: I’m Gabe Doyle, a graduate student and doctoral candidate in Linguistics at the University of California, San Diego. I have a Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics from Princeton University and a Master’s in Linguistics from UCSD.

I’m a computational psycholinguist, which means that I use computers to model how people think about, understand, and use language. Some of my recent projects include looking at what influences people’s decisions about when to use needs to be done and when to use needs doing, the effect of relative pronoun choice on the ease of processing relative clauses, and how readers maintain uncertainty about what they have read in a sentence. I have also worked in the Computer Science and Electrical Engineering departments on joint models of text and image information, as well as topic models for large text corpora.

My dissertation work is a model of how infants use multiple sources of information to learn how to segment the language they hear around them into words.  If you’d like to learn more about me or my research for some reason, head over to my website.

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