I think one of the most important reasons that grammar rules exist is to maintain trust between and audience and the writer/speaker. My grammar isn’t perfect, but it’s getting there. I expect people in professional roles to have proper grammar. That doesn’t mean they can’t make mistakes — grammar isn’t easy. That’s what editors are for. I expect that professionals take the time (and money) to hire an editor, so their work is to a certain standard.
For example: The president of the United States has atrocious grammar. (I googled if president should be capitalized here).
Donald Trump, Leader of the “Free World” has an obligation to use proper grammar. When a speech is written, and the rules of grammar are nowhere to be found, it is not uncommon for that speech to be read differently and for the overall meaning to change. This can become quite problematic. It also shows a lack of care and professionalism. Personally, if an author wrote the way Trump does I wouldn’t be able to make sense of it, and I wouldn’t continue to buy their books. So an editor may cost money, but they’re going to up your sales in the long run.
If you are into copy editing, and also despise the way Trump is a slap in the face to professionals everywhere, you might enjoy this video of one of his speeches being edited.
Editor’s are important. They make sure nothing gets in the way of the intended meaning the author wants to get across. They don’t (always) make substantial changes, they just polish what was already great.
As Carol Fisher Saller said in The Subversive Copy Editor “it’s not the authors right to offend or confuse the reader, defy the rules of English, fail to identify sources, or lower the standards of your institution” (2016, p.48).
It’s surprising, but nonetheless true, that grammatical errors can do so much harm. But don’t be afraid — everyone, even editors, are making grammatical mistakes. Kind of like this blog post.
– Michaela Bishop
Saller, C. (2016). The subversive copy editor. Chicago; London: University of Chicago Press.