I would endorse this as well - grammatical texts are useful for refining your understanding of the structure of a language.

Tentatively-- grammatical texts have a complex relationship with language. They can be somewhat useful but still go astray because they're for a different language, with the classic example being grammar based on Latin being used to occasionally force English out of its normal use.

I suspect the same happens when formal grammar is used to claim that casual and/or spoken English is wrong.

Yes, accurate grammars are better than inaccurate grammars. But I think you are focusing too much on the negative effects and not noticing the positive effects. It is hard to notice people's understanding of grammar except when they make a mistake or correct someone else, both of which are generally negative effects.

Americans are generally not taught English grammar, but often are taught a foreign language, including grammar. Huge numbers of them claim that studying the foreign grammar helped them understand English grammar. Of course, they know the gramm... (read more)

1[anonymous]7yModern descriptive [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linguistic_description] grammars (like this one [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Cambridge_Grammar_of_the_English_Language]) aren't anywhere near that bad.

Bad Concepts Repository

by moridinamael 1 min read27th Jun 2013204 comments


We recently established a successful Useful Concepts Repository.  It got me thinking about all the useless or actively harmful concepts I had carried around for in some cases most of my life before seeing them for what they were.  Then it occurred to me that I probably still have some poisonous concepts lurking in my mind, and I thought creating this thread might be one way to discover what they are.

I'll start us off with one simple example:  The Bohr model of the atom as it is taught in school is a dangerous thing to keep in your head for too long.  I graduated from high school believing that it was basically a correct physical representation of atoms.  (And I went to a *good* high school.)  Some may say that the Bohr model serves a useful role as a lie-to-children to bridge understanding to the true physics, but if so, why do so many adults still think atoms look like concentric circular orbits of electrons around a nucleus?  

There's one hallmark of truly bad concepts: they actively work against correct induction.  Thinking in terms of the Bohr model actively prevents you from understanding molecular bonding and, really, everything about how an atom can serve as a functional piece of a real thing like a protein or a diamond.

Bad concepts don't have to be scientific.  Religion is held to be a pretty harmful concept around here.  There are certain political theories which might qualify, except I expect that one man's harmful political concept is another man's core value system, so as usual we should probably stay away from politics.  But I welcome input as fuzzy as common folk advice you receive that turned out to be really costly.