I’ve spent this past week traveling in Michigan’s beautiful Upper Peninsula (for the second time this summer!) and was at times without Internet access, so I find myself behind on posts—thank you for your patience, good readers! I was able to see some beautiful scenery, eat some wonderful food, and visit the amazing A.E. Seaman Mineral Museum of Michigan Tech—lots of pretty and sparkly gemstones to see there! And even though I’m a week behind, I’ve been giving a lot of thought to future posts and have had some great conversations with family and friends about compound words and portmanteau words and also the difference between acronyms and initialisms. I’m very much looking forward to the fall, and since this is the last day of meteorological summer, transitioning between seasons gives me a good opportunity to pause and take stock of my reasons for starting this blog and why it is so important to me.
The more posts that I write for Grammar Fairy Godmother, the more connections I see between grammar/the way we use language and fashion/style choices. To me, this is endlessly fascinating, and I don’t see how it will be possible to ever run out of things to write about. That being said, I want to briefly reflect on three foundational ideas that provide these connections for me.
Conventions rather than rules. When someone I meet asks me what my blog is about, I’m often so happy at how quickly they see the connection between grammar and fashion. I think that many people tend to think about grammar as a rule-based system, which of course is (though not quite to the extent that is most commonly perceived) and so, often, is fashion. I think that many “rules” like no white clothing after Labor Day are largely outdated—here’s an entertaining and informative article in Bustle about that very thing. I find that the idea of conventions is much more evocative of what is really happening in our language (and fashion) use: most of us probably make different choices when we’re writing a formal document versus a text message and that’s just as it should be.
Communication. This involves communicating our ideas and a sense of who we are in both speech/writing and clothing choices. Whatever you’re wearing, I think that if it’s your choice and makes you feel confident and comfortable, that’s great. This also connects to the idea that an error-based system of grammar instruction might not be the best way to learn. Writing is a social act. If we remember that what we really want to do is communicate with people and get our ideas out there in the world, focusing too much on whether or not we’re making comma errors can hinder the communication process. I’m not saying that understanding the conventions of usage isn’t important (because it certainly made me feel empowered), but I think that there is a better way to go about it than focusing on what’s “wrong.”
Constant evolution. Both my sense of personal style and what I know about grammar/usage (and how I apply that knowledge) are constantly changing. For example, a few years ago I would have said that the semicolon was my favorite punctuation mark (and I’m still very fond of it). However, I have started using colons much more frequently. I’ve been a frequent em dash user in the past as well. My favorite color/pattern/fabric combinations are constantly changing as well—I’m looking forward to lots of faux fur this fall and winter! If you pay attention to the choices that you make, both in fashion and on the page, they can tell you a lot about how you’ve changed over time.
My original plan for this week was to look at some of my fashion (and grammar) icons, but I’m going to save that for next week. There are so many to choose from, and I’m compiling quite a list! This week, I’ll leave you with a picture of the beautiful Canyon Falls where I went hiking with my dad. I don’t really have any hiking-appropriate outfits, but I did my best! See you next week and happy meteorological fall, everyone!