Grammar Nazis: Useful Language Experts, Or Elitist Snobs?

from the well-this-ought-to-be-fun dept

I know that my grammar is not ideal, though I really do strive to get the basics right. There are times, however, when I feel that the strict "rules" that are put forth by grammar go too far. If the text makes the point in a way that people can understand, what is the problem? On top of that, there's the utter snobbishness with which some (no, not all!) grammar aficionados put down anyone who makes a silly mistake. I have no problem with someone letting me know about a typo or a grammatical problem in a friendly and useful manner -- but all too often the message is delivered in the tone suggesting that making such an elementary grammatical error suggests that I obviously never made it out of the second grade. So I'm glad to see an English professor taking on the grammar nazis.

Salon is running a review of a new book by English professor Jack Lynch, called The Lexicographer's Dilemma, which argues that grammar nazis should chill out. Grammar rules are mostly to make people feel elite, not to make them any clearer, according to the book. Again, I have no problem with basic grammar rules for the sake of clarity, but focusing too much on the rules over the clarity is a mistake, and it's nice to see at least some "experts" agreeing.

Filed Under: english, grammar, language


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  1. icon
    Bav (profile), 30 Oct 2009 @ 11:14am

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    "Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in school."
    ~Albert Einstein

    There is a time and place for simplifying the language. To disregard its proper use and make the misuse of English the norm is simply wrong. What little "education" remains today does not have to define us. As humans, we are always learning and adding to our education in daily life.

    To promote the slow demise of our language is to support it's death.

    What is the English Language when we despise it, consider it unimportant and conspire to render it flexible? It becomes a dialect. Once the majority, in this case the uneducated lazy, wins this battle, America is ripe for another language to take over. One that people have pride in and defend to keep.

    Who knows, maybe 20 or 50 years down the road America will be a Spanish speaking country with all media dominated by the Spanish language...or Chinese, Japanese, Korean. Who's up for that? It may be that we'll have to have Einstein's intelligent words translated to our new dialect. (because that's what it will become)

    Einstein's English may read something like this in the future dialect-

    "edumkashun r wut sta after wun haz phorgoten wut eyz learnt ins skul."

    I welcome correction when there is a correct.

    What shall we blur next? Our unalienable rights?

    Grammar and spelling corrections welcomed.
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