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"Some people don't use proper grammar!"
"To boldly go..."
Why don't the grammar books talk like us?
"To boldly go..." - What's wrong with split infinitives?
Split infinitives bother some people. When they hear, "To boldly go where no man has gone before," they grimace. When a friend says, "I'm just going to quickly use the phone," they shudder. Not because there's anything wrong with split infinitives, but because within half a second, someone will gleefully pipe up, "You can't say that!" or "No, you're just going to use the phone quickly."
What is it that drives so many people to such passionate and persistent condemnation of certain variations in language?
Miscommunication. A common argument for condemning non-standard forms is that they prevent people understanding each other. This is rarely the case - there are always ways around linguistic ambiguity. The word 'funny' is a synonym for both 'strange' and 'amusing', for example, yet we know from context and intonation which is meant. Where problems regularly occur (such as in some dialects, where can and can't are pronounced the same way), language tends to evolve to get rid of the ambiguity.
Purism. Prescriptivists are sometimes also purists. They claim that certain features of language are not 'pure English' or 'real French' or whatever. But natural languages cannot be 'pure'. The world's languages have all gradually developed from earlier languages, which have all gradually developed from earlier languages...and so on. There is no 'original' variety of any natural language.
Loss of a 'golden age'. Some prescriptivists consider a particular era or social group to have had the 'best' form of that language, and worry that our 'mistakes' lead us further away from that era. Linguists would reply that there is no 'good' and 'bad' in language. Change is normal - there's no point in trying to hold on to the past.
Death of the language. Many people worry that using non-standard forms will kill their language. Yet, since prescriptivists are keen for us to use standard forms of language, their approach is more designed to kill off other dialects than preserve the status quo. Normal levels of variation and change are signs of a healthy language.
Mistakes give the wrong impression. This argument has some truth to it. Linguists don't see non-standard features as errors. It's an observable part of language, however, that certain features are deemed appropriate or inappropriate by native speakers in certain situations. Being able to judge your audience and speak accordingly is an important sociolinguistic skill, since contravening expectations can make you sound impolite or stand-offish.
It's also important to differentiate between speech and writing. Spoken language is mostly spontaneous and natural, whereas writing is contrived: someone decided how to write all that noise down. Since writing has to be taught, rather than automatically acquired, most people's perception is that following the prescribed rules shows you've put in the necessary effort to learn.
There is no 'original' variety of any natural language
In most styles of formal writing, English speakers will expect to use forms that resemble Standard English as closely as possible. Incorrect spelling, punctuation and non-standard forms say something about you - where it's not for deliberate effect, they suggest that you're uneducated, that you don't pay attention to detail or that you're being impolite.