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Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Grammar Nazis Put on Notice




The goal of a writer is to write something that others care to read.  Correct grammar may or may not play much of a part in achieving this end.

As a student of foreign languages I will take vocabulary over grammar seven days a week. This isn’t to say that I don’t study grammar but if you don’t know a word no amount of good grammar is going to bail you out linguistically.

If you’re going to be enough of an jerk to correct someone’s grammar you had better be right 100% of the time or you are the biggest jerk in history. Even if you are always right that might not keep me from punching you in the neck. Grammar isn’t in itself communication; it’s simply a tool that can make communication clearer. Language is the wine and grammar is merely the glass. Sometimes people like to drink right from the bottle. Get over it.

I am a very firm believer in the Oxford comma.

3 comments:

  1. Oh, come on. People treat grammar like it was a code of laws. It's just a way of making sense. And yeah, it's off-pissing that some people are all over you for little mistakes. But what's wrong with trying to use the most correct word possible? Instead of using "!literally" it's really not that hard to say "virtually" or "practically" or somesuch other word.

    Back in 81 when I started my first teaching job in a community college in Queens, NYC, I had a student who breezed by any correction. "Hey, lady, I just have a different definition of vocabulary". So I asked him to lend me a $10 bill. Then I gave him back a $5. "Hey, man, that's my definition of $10."l

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  2. I don't defend the over-use of "literally" but I just hate self-appointed grammar Nazis who are usually humorless assholes who don't write. Writers can do whatever the hell they want with language as long as they communicate an idea which is the function of language. I think it is obvious that I care at least a little about grammar but as I said, as far as my Spanish I'll take vocabulary ever time. I see Spanish kids studying English and being pulverized with grammar and fill-in-the-blank exercises (why does everyone seem to think this is an effective technique?) and match this to that. Read, listen, speak, and look up new words is my strategy.

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  3. What about those idiots who over-use commas? They're worse than you-know-who.

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