Grammar, ‘Codeswitching,’ and Audience

Personally, I still struggle with grammar today, even as I advance through my professional writing degree. In our class discussion, we talked a lot about grammar rules we dislike, like, can live without, etc. But, I didn’t realize that certain grammar rule can be interpreted by the writer as Curzan describes in her article. I thought it was interesting that she put grammar on the rhetorical platform. For writers, grammar isn’t something to be negotiated. And, maybe that’s the problem!

One of the examples that Curzan uses to make her argument was when one of her colleagues confronted her about telling her students to treat ‘they’ in the singular, which is forbidden. She explains that her students can “break” these rules at the own discretion. It made me think about code switching and audience; it is all connected because the writer must appeal to their audience using grammar and language suited to their audience.

I like that Curzan brings up the point that we can “question everything except Standard English;” which is a problem for most students. Sometimes you have to break the rules to convey a specific message to your audience.

Curzan’s piece reminds me of Bartholomae’s piece on writing for the university. He describes the difficulty students have writing for the university. I believe that students should be able to code switch. He does make a valid point about the professors making their directions clear so that students don’t stray in their writing. But, I think it relates back to grammar and audience.

Whether its breaking a few grammar rules or code switching, no matter what, the writer must know their audience.


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