Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Grammar Nazis Forever

i can haz cheezburger?
ur sucha qtpie!
imma go to da liberry on wensday

The brilliance of "casual" grammar is pervasive these days.  You can't get away from it.  Text messaging, internet forums, and social networking sites facilitate poor spelling (even with spell checking programs), incorrect abbreviation and punctuation, as well as "creative" word usage.

On top of this, self publishing allows for more people to write and publish than ever before.  It happens that many people think they are quite capable writers, when in fact, they have the command of the English language of an isolated Uighur child.  Frequently when searching some topic or another, I find an article that seems to have promising information, only to discover the writer is incapable of writing complete and coherent sentences.  If I find a single typo in an article, I can overlook it.  I will admit I do check to see if there are any more. However, if there are syntax errors and style issues that could be smoothed by a first grader, I cannot take the information in the article seriously.  They have put their site on my shit list. 

Honestly, and this is quite sad, it reminds me of some of the papers I read when I was a teaching assistant at UCSB.  Some students had never really written a paper.  They invented words.  They used three block quotes per double-spaced page.  Frequently their sentences wouldn't be a complete thought.  Occasionally they would use "filler" words such as "like" leading me to believe they took the advice to write in their own voices a little too literally.  By the way, I'm talking about the native English speakers here.

My husband has to listen to my gripes about the sad state of writing (and speaking).  He affectionately calls me a "grammar nazi," a term which I whole-heartedly own. 

Don't get me wrong - I understand there is a time and a place for casual speech.  It's just not good if an aspiring writer sucks writing their blog (yes I have seen it, and no, I will not direct you to their blog - it would only encourage them).  It's also bad for a person to write a casual email in l337 to a service company expecting anyone to take their request seriously (yes this has happened to friends of mine in the service sector).

So what does a person do who desperately wants to defend the English language? Correct appropriately and disregard the rest.  There will always be someone wrong on the internet.  It happens.  It will happen for as long as the internet exists.  Do you correct your friends when they use words incorrectly or make up words thinking they're using a common academic term? Absolutely - but tastefully and when the situation allows it.  The less socially adept person might humiliate a person in front of everyone every time, but obviously this is a bad idea for the grammar nazi.  If you did that you would annoy all your friends and quickly isolate yourself socially.  Still, occasionally a little poke in the right grammatical direction is a good thing. Heil Grammar!


  1. I really enjoyed reading this. I'm happy to hear that there are still those who appreciate the importance of proper grammar, as well as correct spelling. And, as you said, I am also called a Grammar Nazi, which I am very proud of. This made my day. Thanks, and....Heil Grammar!

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  3. Thanks for the comment! I hope that by talking about proper English usage, more people will speak and write proper English!