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
    nasch (profile), 29 Oct 2009 @ 10:26am


    I don't point out those errors, but I do notice them, and I wonder. Was it just a one-time slip of the fingers? Even if so, it means at best the writer didn't bother to proofread their own writing. If it's a comment on a forum, who cares (though I generally reread what I wrote before I post)? If it's the actual owner of the blog, I would find it strange that they would set out to write, but then care so little about their (not "there") writing as to not even read over it.

    Or worse, it could indicate they don't know the difference between "they're", "their", and "there". I do have a problem with that. I'm not going to call someone names about it, but isn't it important to understand the language you're (not "your") writing in? If you don't even know what words you're using, how can you be sure you're getting across the right point? It's not about whether I can figure out which one you mean, it just makes me question the rest of your (not "you're") writing too.

    Don't even get me started on "loose". ;-)

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