Monday, June 11, 2012

Grammar Nazi!

Those who know me would know that I tend to exhibit OCD symptoms in regards to grammar. I struggle to hold back from correcting others spelling, punctuation, and grammar mistakes. Firstly, I would like to say that I gladly accept people correcting me in this aspect. I do not have double standards in regards to this (I may have them in other situations). Secondly, I am not talking about vocabulary. I believe it is highly arrogant to use vocabulary someone can not understand in an argument. A truly intelligent person would be able to alter their speech for the person they are communicating with. Thirdly, I understand not everyone is educated; it's the lack of wanting to improve that upsets me. I suppose I stand out as someone that has to use all their willpower not to correct people on Facebook constantly. Other people seem to notice also. Here is an example of some of the many pictures my fellow Facebook peers have posted on my wall. 

There has probably been more, but these are the ones I was able to compile. Now, you may ask, why do it? Why always pull people up on something that in the big spectrum of things probably doesn't matter? Firstly, you need to understand, that my brain is very logical. It doesn't work through the use of analogy, and metaphor. It is practical, and to the point. I see a mistake, my brain instantly gets agitated. It almost creates anxiety in me. When I was playing a spelling game and this screen came up I was very disturbed.

I will not point out the error. See if you can find it yourself. This bothered me so much, that in the review I simply wrote, "it is difficult to credit a spelling game that has unintentional spelling errors". Some people may consider this as arrogant, but unless they can realise the state of chaos my mind goes into when I see the errors, they possibly could not understand. Think about something that you may see that you can just not let go; whether it be a dirty dish, or stains on clothes, it is very hard to just ignore it. Now I hear you say, "ok you have noticed it, you do not have to say anything about it". I am trying very hard not to. You could not imagine the amount of errors these days I actually let slide. It is difficult, but I believe I am improving. I will not slack off with my students though. How is one to really credit their arguments and the intellect behind them if they can not be presented clearly and logically? Writing 'your' instead of 'you're' can really discredit an argument. Don't get me wrong, I know some of the smartest people in the world may have lacked in linguistic intellect, but I imagine they would often be open to criticism and feedback. How else would they learn and improve?
The second argument I have, particularly in regards to my students, is exams and jobs. When sitting an exam poor spelling, grammar, and punctuation could be the difference between a B and an A. When going for a job it could be the difference between getting an interview, and not getting an interview. I have worked in previous jobs where I have seen managers instantly tear up application letters because they are not coherent. It's vital.

I was glad to see that the National Curriculum is pushing towards grammar. I feel when I was at school it was neglected, in comparison to when my parents were at school. I had to relearn nearly all of it at university. My Facebook friends tell me that "they are just lazy on Facebook". I understand that, but I imagine if Facebook were continuously showing errors in the area they pride themselves on, they too would be frustrated. Furthermore, why is it acceptable for people to correct others if they tell you that 2+2=7, but it is not acceptable to let someone know they have used a double negative, therefore changing the meaning of what they intend to say? "I didn't see nothing" actually means that you saw something. It appears that when it comes to grammar people get more offended when being corrected, than if it were science or maths for example. Strange really, when bad grammar can reflect on you as a person...maybe this is the reason for the offense. 

I also do not in any way think this applies to people with learning disabilities. That is totally different, and I know the amount of struggles some people go through. It's the lack of wanting to learn that bothers me I suppose. Written word is one of the main sources of communication in this world. Think about the kind of problems people who can not speak their country's language properly experience. It is the same with written word. Unless of course, no-one you communicate with can use grammar correctly. That I think, would end up being, a 'ball of confusion'.
If I were to argue against this, I would say, "grammar is a social convention. Why should I perfect what society has moulded us to be?" Good argument! Why should someone try and improve themselves in an area that does not determine their self worth, or may not connect to their line of work. I would respond with; "it is vital to be educated. To learn, to read, to write (notice where I have put my commas here. I imply that reading and writing are separate, in order to emphasise them). If you are not educated you cannot fully understand your rights, your freedom, or lack of. Even if you can understand them, and want to fight for them, you may be disregarded if your argument is not presented properly. Think about the people up the top, the people making the rules. Do you really think you are going to be acknowledged if you can't succumb to their standards? Unless Pol Pot is reincarnated, you need to be able to have the capacity to fight for your rights. And really, you don't want to end up with this problem do you?"
I am going to leave you with a link to the 'Oatmeal' website. They too, like the use of good grammar (alliteration), and have dedicated a whole section of their site to fun posters that can teach people how to use grammar correctly.
Would love to hear feedback. If you see any mistakes in this post, please let me know. I'm sure you will be looking through it carefully to catch me out.


  1. Lovely, Em, totally agree!! You are awesome!!
    Below the picture entitled "Comic Rewrite Contest", given that there are several pictures, I might write "There have probably been more" rather than "there has probably been more". And under Stephen Fry's picture, 6th line down, I'd probably use "cannot" instead of "can not". I think you'd be a perfect proofreader, and (totally different) would totally LOVE the TEFL teaching syllabus, which is ALL grammar. Divine!
    Did you ever read "Eats Shoots and Leaves" (the Zero Tolerance Guide)?

    1. Cannot and can not are equally acceptable.

  2. I didn't read it all yet. I think there is a fine line between correcting and notice grammar that causes communication breakdowns, and just being over anal. I try to be realistic about it. :)

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