Thursday, February 16, 2006

Grammar Nazis commit graphocide

Kacktus today at Super Babymama gets on the world's case about its poor grammar habits, egged on by Lynne Truss, author of Eats, Shoots & Leaves.
I have to constantly stop myself from correcting grammar at the various blogs I go to; many bloggers seem to almost pride themselves on mangling the language, as if they were re-inventing the wheel. This isn't the brave new world of language, folks--this is just laziness. Get thee a style manual! Take a night class! Read something and pay attention to how writers--good writers--use commas, apostrophes, and semi-colons. It will make your writing better and lessen my exasperation
Every second person I run into is a self-professed grammar Nazi, and I'm getting sick of it. (This high incidence of grammar Nazism may have to do with the fact that I am a nerd, and therefore hang out with a lot of nerds.)

I realize that we have standards of grammar, spelling and punctuation so that we can understand each other, and if we completely ignored them communication would break down. And, I appreciate that a good understanding of these concepts on the part of reader and writer can enhance even the most perfect choice of words.

Still, I am irked at the grammar Nazi. Your mastery of verb tenses does not give you the right to hijack any conversation that someone uses the wrong "there" in. I'm sure the little rush that comes with feeling superior is addictive, but I think that the grammar Nazi needs to realize that they have only mastered a small amount of the wide amount of knowledge in the world, and that their choice of specialization is no more interesting to me than protein crystallography is to them.

My mother is a terrible speller. She misspells words over and over and over again. She reads a lot, and she's a smart woman. She's just not a speller. I'm a speller, my husband is a speller, but I realize that I'm good at spelling things just because it comes naturally to me. My mother, to whom it does not come naturally, avoids writing anything someone else will see because everyone (I'm guilty too) gives her so much crap about her spelling. Grammar Nazis commit graphocide against people like my mother. In my experience, a person's ability to spell is no indication of their actual intelligence, not to mention the value of what they have to say.

Further, people just make mistakes. I do it, and it's okay. It's okay for you to tell me. But there's no reason to get mad or frustrated when people screw up their punctuation. I trust people to do their best, and I'm not going sweat it if they miss a typo, or never noticed that they were misspelling a word. And I certainly don't want to discourage people from expressing themselves because of something they can't necessarily help. So pipe down, grammar Nazis.

(And Kacktus, I can overlook this kind of thing as long as you keep up the high-caliber blogging.)

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