Dec 11, 2012
10 reasons not to join the Grammar Police.
Yesterday, my sister-in-law bought me this adorable notebook and we had a little giggle, as we both know I like to use full sentences and find it really difficult to use lolspeak and txt speak. But I don't make a habit out of correcting other people's grammar, spelling or pronunciation. The couple of times you may find me doing so is when other people are being pedantic about language because I always find it ironic that so many of them make mistakes themselves while doing so. Secondly, I sometimes correct my kids. It's an annoying habit left over from when I used to homeschool them.
I mostly use formal language, I had it ingrained in me. But, I don't purport to be any kind of expert, I make mistakes all the time. I also don't expect people to have "essay quality" expression on their blog or social networking. I think it's quite distasteful when I see other people correcting someone's spelling and grammar. Here's why:
1. It's pedantic. Pedants insist people follow their rules, but the worst part is they are condescending about it. Now, I am well aware some people have conditions such as Asperger Syndrome where they cannot help being pedantic. But more likely, pedantic people only wish they were as clever as they pretend to be.
"A Man who has been brought up among Books, and is able to talk of nothing else, is what we call a Pedant. But, methinks, we should enlarge the Title, and give it to every one that does not know how to think out of his Profession and particular way of Life."—Joseph Addison, Spectator 1711
2. It's elitist. I spent many year working in education. I have taught in high school, adult literacy classes and worked with people from disadvantaged backgrounds. If someone doesn't spell a word correctly, or pronounce it the same as you, and you correct them, you are really telling them that you think you are better than them.
3. It's impolite. My sister is a seamstress. She could probably tell you why your clothes fit incorrectly and why that cut doesn't suit you at all. My daughter is a make-up artist, she can tell you exactly where you went wrong with that eye-liner I could write more examples. But you get the point. They don't do that because it's bad manners.
4. It's a form of bullying. There are lots of reasons people talk and spell differently such as dialects, incorrect instruction, dyslexia, disadvantage, disabilities. By pointing out their perceived inadequacies you are publicly humiliating a person who may have less advantages than you had. Sorry, but that's bullying.
5. It interrupts the natural flow of conversation. When you are having a conversation about a topic you feel passionate about, you type or say a heartfelt response and someone says, "That's not how you spell that". Firstly, it's an inappropriate response. You should be answering what they said and showing that you understood or clarifying what they said. Secondly, it's just annoying. The momentum of the conversation is lost and that is just sad.
6. People have different values. Some people don't value education or expression as much as they do kindness or being able to work with your hands. Trying to convert people to value what you value is annoying. I'm not talking about petitions to stop violence or really important issues. I'm talking about personal views. If you value it, then live it.
7. People in glass houses... The most ironic part is that the people who are the worst grammar police, constantly make typos, spelling mistakes and grammar faux pas. No person is perfect.
8. Only on the Internet? It seems to be an Internet phenomenon. We all do it. We do things behind a keyboard that we would never do in real life, because we don't have to witness the other person's reaction.
9. It's incorrect to assume language and grammar has fixity. This is pretty much self-explanatory. Why are they adding new words to the dictionary every year? Why is it now acceptable to use US spelling, even if you don't come from the US? Why don't we still talk in Old English?
10. Stephen Fry holds you in contempt. See the video below. Enough said.
Know Your Meme - Grammar Nazi