Grammar dat is Greek and dat is good too.

Matthew R. Miller biblicalscribe at
Sat Sep 15 14:36:10 EDT 2001

Hello all,
Allow me to expound on my posting about "good Greek grammar." I of course
recognize the need for a standard, and I recognize that if every single
human being were allowed to invent his own language, all communication
would break down. My point was, how large must that standard extend?
Obviously there is not a universal standard, for the world contains
thousands of languages and dialects. The scope of a standard seems to
follow cultural lines, in all cases. The standard then is not an
arbitrary, artificial standard imposed by external forces, but rather the
result of natural linguistic evolution. Thus, all grammatical standards
are, by definitin and of necessity, limited in scope. In Louisiana, USA,
where I grew up, we speak Cajun English and Cajun French to a large
extent. For example, it is quite common to hear someone say something
like, "Mais cher, me, I'm goin' eat." Now according to standard English,
that is obviously wrong. However, in the context of Cajuns, everyone
speaks like that and understands it. So, the question remains, is that
"wrong?" In the context of standard English, yes it is. But in the context
of Cajun English, it is correct. So, if 2000 years from now, someone finds
some writings in that style, and they deem it "bad grammar" and accuse the
writer of making grammatical mistakes, is that fair? My father once had a
British investor on an oil rig with Cajun workers. He had to translate
between the Cajun and the Englishman, but both were speaking English! So
yes, standards facilitate communication, but standards are bound by
culture, and while it is a good idea to know a larger standard in order to
communicate more broadly, to deem cultural standards "wrong" to me seems
wrong.  What if most or all Galilean Jews used, say, neuter pronouns to
represent masculine or feminine nouns, and everyone accepted it and
understood it in Galilee (at least those who knew Greek)? Were they wrong,
or were they acting according to the rules they knew? I say the latter.
Thanks, Matt Miller

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