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.


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    Free Capitalist (profile), Oct 29th, 2009 @ 9:18am

    Nukeyoular Gramer Natsees

    Grammar rules are mostly to make people feel elite, not to make them any clearer, according to the book.


    Their are sum basic problematics with there fundamentalist BASIC statements.

     

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      GN, Oct 29th, 2009 @ 10:44am

      Re: Nukeyoular Gramer Natsees

      You sir, are a moron.

      Their != There
      sum is a mathematics term, not a replacement for some
      problematics? seriously?
      There != Their
      It's fundamental dumb@$$
      BASIC is a total waste of 5 characters because it is included in fundamental, not to mention the egregious use of capital letters

      This ignores that fact that your comment is just a total wast of the life that courses through your veins and I just wasted a portion of my life that I will never get back!

      And now I just noticed the title of your post ...

      I'm going to go hang myself now

       

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        Free Capitalist (profile), Oct 29th, 2009 @ 10:47am

        Re: Re: Nukeyoular Gramer Natsees

        Its OK GN. This is all a part of fighting an uphill battle while trying not to seem combative.

         

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        ChimpBush McHitlerBurton, Oct 29th, 2009 @ 10:55am

        Re: Re: Nukeyoular Gramer Natsees

        You spelled "waste" wrong, you complete and utter spoiling of what is good, natural and right on this beautiful world that we of the master race call "Earth".

        Allow me to assist you with that noose.

        Sieg Heil!

        CBMHB

         

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    Ima Fish (profile), Oct 29th, 2009 @ 9:22am

    Agreed. If there is no ambiguity, what's the fricken deal?

    For example, anyone with a brain should be able to distinguish between the intended use/misuse of "there, their, and they're" solely from the surrounding context. So why point that the writer used the wrong one? Not only does it not add to the discussion, it outright detracts from the discussion.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Oct 29th, 2009 @ 10:01am

      Re:

      Their, there and they're isn't a grammar issue. It's a spelling issue. Not the same thing.

       

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

      Re:

      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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        Dark Helmet (profile), Oct 29th, 2009 @ 11:00am

        Re: Re:

        "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?"

        Yes, which is why you shouldn't end a sentence in a preposition...

         

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          Anonymous Coward, Oct 29th, 2009 @ 11:11am

          Re: Re: Re:

          That's not really a strict rule of grammar anymore.

           

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          DCX2, Oct 29th, 2009 @ 11:13am

          Re: Re: Re:

          haha my girlfriend nails me on that one all the time. That, and the difference between lie and lay. I just can't get those right, and I even consider myself somewhat of a grammar/spelling nazi.

           

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          azuravian (profile), Oct 29th, 2009 @ 11:20am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Ridiculous. "This is the type of arrant pedantry up with which I will not put."

           

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            Dark Helmet (profile), Oct 29th, 2009 @ 11:23am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            "Ridiculous. "This is the type of arrant pedantry up with which I will not put.""

            My testicles are just quivering with excitement at the prospect of finding exactly what is you're going to do about it....

             

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              azuravian (profile), Oct 29th, 2009 @ 11:30am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Maybe I'll start ending all my sentences with a preposition from.

               

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                Chargone (profile), Oct 29th, 2009 @ 2:10pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                you know, much as English does have grammatical rules which it is generally beneficial to stick to, the one about never ending a sentence with a preposition is utter nonsense steaming from the whole 'Latin is perfect. therefor, English should be more like Latin' thing, which started with 'we have no codified system for English, there's a codified system for Latin, let's use that as a starting point'

                English, used properly, does end sentences with prepositions [does that make them postpositions?]. There's another common 'don't do that' rule with similar origins which is actually completely backwards, but i forget which one it is.

                 

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                  Chargone (profile), Oct 29th, 2009 @ 2:11pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  argh! forgot to preview and the comment size limit [?] ate most of my post :(

                   

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                    Sebastian Flyte, Sep 25th, 2011 @ 5:20am

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:Lazarus

                    There is a plug-in for Firefox called "Lazarus" that saves a copy of text one posts online. If text gets eaten or lost somehow, it's very simple to recover it with Lazarus.

                     

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                  nasch (profile), Oct 29th, 2009 @ 3:10pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  There's another common 'don't do that' rule with similar origins which is actually completely backwards, but i forget which one it is.

                  Could be the one that says it's bad to ever split an infinitive, I think that is also a useless carryover from Latin.

                   

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          hegemon13, Oct 29th, 2009 @ 11:42am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Actually, many professional style guides have eschewed rules against terminal prepositions. The Chicago Manual of Style goes so far as to call the rule an "ill-founded superstition."

          Still, many years of English classes have biased me against them. What's so hard about "the language in which you're writing." It is clearer in many cases, but it's optional according to most modern style guides.

           

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            nasch (profile), Oct 29th, 2009 @ 3:09pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            What's so hard about "the language in which you're writing."

            There's nothing hard about it, but it means the same thing, is no more correct, no more clear (IMO), and uses more words. So why would I want to do that?

             

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              hegemon13, Oct 29th, 2009 @ 3:24pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              Like I said, it's optional. I just prefer it because there is never any ambiguity. If you end with a preposition, you always have to analyze the sentence to determine whether it is ambiguous. The traditional system works every time without the need to second guess.

               

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                nasch (profile), Oct 30th, 2009 @ 8:12am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                I don't understand. What could be ambiguous about "the language you're writing in"?

                 

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                  hegemon13, Nov 2nd, 2009 @ 8:26am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  It's not ambiguous in this case. Like I said, I prefer the traditional form because it is NEVER ambiguous.

                  Read my first response above. I started out by explaining that, even in professional writing, the terminal preposition rule is optional. I finished with my personal preference, and I labeled it as such. I don't care what your writing style is. You should understand, however, that regularly ending sentences with prepositions can create more work for you as a writer. You have to analyze each of the sentences to ensure that no ambiguity exists.

                   

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        Nate, Oct 29th, 2009 @ 11:52am

        Re: Re:

        You mean, "the writer didn't bother to proofread HIS own writing." ;-)

         

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          nasch (profile), Oct 29th, 2009 @ 3:07pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Sure, but then I couldn't have used "their" to contrast it with "they're". ;-)

           

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          Anonymous Coward, Oct 31st, 2009 @ 9:16pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          You mean, "the writer didn't bother to proofread HIS own writing." ;-)

          Actually, that was an example of gender-neutral grammar in which "their" implies "his or her".

           

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      not a nazi, Oct 29th, 2009 @ 10:27am

      Re:

      What about the other side of the argument? Asking people to proof-read their work before posting? That's just having simple respect for the reader, don't you think?

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Oct 29th, 2009 @ 10:34am

      Re:

      There wolf...there castle.

       

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      DCX2, Oct 29th, 2009 @ 11:08am

      Re:

      The poor grammar is a distraction. When I see someone use the wrong word (there instead of their), I spend a few extra mental cycles re-processing the erroneous statement. A few cycles here and there aren't bad, but when there are multiple consecutive errors, it really interferes with the ability to read smoothly, much as a dearth of capital letters and punctuation may interfere with smooth reading.

       

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      Jr Grammar Nazi, Oct 29th, 2009 @ 11:22am

      Re:

      Your write. Their is know need two spell the correct word every thyme. Eye can usually spell the curse words write when Eye get mad enuf.

       

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        AvatarMew, Nov 2nd, 2009 @ 7:38am

        Re: Re:

        It's you're not your -.-, there not their, everytime not every thyme, right not write and I not eye -.-.

        It's utter lazyness to not use correct grammar on the internet.

         

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      Mike Moon, Oct 29th, 2009 @ 11:22am

      Re:

      I read the comment above yours, and the "there" in there threw my brain off for a second. If I'm scanning text, having the correct form, without the need to really observe context, definitely icreases my comprehension.

       

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      hegemon13, Oct 29th, 2009 @ 11:38am

      Re:

      They're completely different words. No, context does not always make the distinction clear, though it often can. Is it necessary to point out like a snob? No, not usually. Any professional publication better get it right, though. This is neither a grammar error nor a spelling error. It is a word-choice error, and the words have very different meanings.

      Of course, a professional publication only has two to worry about because they would not be using contractions to start with.

       

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      doubledeej (profile), Oct 29th, 2009 @ 12:04pm

      Re:

      It is a big deal. When I'm reading a sentence that has the wrong "there/their/they're" in it it's like my brain hitting a speed bump at 70 MPH. It might as well be another word entirely because I (like many left-brained people) don't read based on word pronunciation; I read based on what words have been written. When I see a sentence that says "I will be going over their tonight" it might as well be "I will be going over gobbledygook tonight" because it's the wrong word and it doesn't make sense. I have to back up and re-read the sentence again based on pronunciation (out loud in my head, if that makes sense... which is much slower) to determine the original meaning of the author. It really slows the process down, and if there is too much of this nonsense in someone's writing it hurts the brain too much to decypher their intent and I just give up and move on.

      It isn't so much of being an elitist snob; it's a matter of writing to be understood. Using the wrong words is just lazy. People know the difference between "there" (a place), "their" (belonging to them), and "they're" (they are)... they're just being too lazy to think about their writing or press the extra key on their keyboard.

      Spelling mistakes and typos are understandable. Using the wrong words in the first place just isn't excusable.

       

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        Jesz, Oct 29th, 2009 @ 1:08pm

        Re: Re:

        doubledeej--I've been reading through all the comments, wondering if anyone would mention anything like this. I am the exact same way: it is painful and distracting to me when words are used incorrectly or spelled abominably. Punctuation, too, can cause me distress. I can force my way through a passage if I know it will be worth it, but if I am not sure of the return, I often do not bother. I don't think of myself as a grammar nazi, as I generally refrain from pointing out errors and am far from perfect myself, but I am a concerned party.

         

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          Dark Helmet (profile), Oct 29th, 2009 @ 1:39pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          "Punctuation, too, can cause me distress."

          Okay, let me preface this by saying that I know what you mean....

          ...But it'd be funny to see you walking down the street in a tshirt that said this, looking all scared of the world, and such...

           

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            Anonymous Coward, Oct 29th, 2009 @ 2:35pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Ha! Thanks for the laugh. That mental picture was just what I needed.

            but the best part is' that if someday: jesz ever cheeses my whiz^ i now know how to get my revenge; and generally ruin their day┬┐

             

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          Nick Coghlan (profile), Oct 29th, 2009 @ 1:48pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Yep - I'll occasionally poke fun at friends about poor spelling and grammar because it really is a painful mental experience having to back up the train and reparse a sentence with the correct words inserted*.

          The occasional error or typo is one thing (e.g. my brain knows how to use apostrophes correctly, but my fingers don't always get it right, so I'm fairly forgiving of such errors, especially in contexts that don't allow editing of posted messages), but allowing endemic errors in published writing is being disrespectful to one's readers.

          However, in such cases, I probably still won't try to correct it - if the problem is bad enough and persistent enough, I'll just stop paying attention to that writer.

          The one time I will post corrections is when someone has made a typo that significantly changes the meaning of what they wrote. In such cases, I have found a simple "s/what they wrote/what I think they meant/?" (or "Was 'written' meant to be 'intended'?" if the writer isn't another programmer) to be both polite and sufficient (i.e. assuming the author just made an accidental typo and seeking clarification rather than assuming they must be a poorly educated idiot and abusing them for it as some grammar nazis do).

          *(A novel I read recently consistently used "insure" instead of "ensure" throughout, and it was a stumbling block every time I came across it. From context, the author definitely meant "ensure", but the error happened so many times that I couldn't see how it could be accidental that the author and editor both missed the mistake).

           

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            Chargone (profile), Oct 29th, 2009 @ 2:19pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            at least one of the mass effect books does this with 'undue', possibly both of them. 'undo' is repeatedly used instead. sentences often begin with 'And', as well.

            every time one of those sentences begins with 'and' it's because it's [it's? its? i HATE this one :S] the third sentence in a paragraph, and for whatever reason the sentence that should be First has been put second, meaning that the second and third don't line up properly. if this was done correctly the second sentence would be first, then a lot of the time the first [now second] sentence and the third sentence would be the Same sentence, using commas and such.

            i must admit to fail when it comes to capital letters, sadly. i often forget them.

             

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      Dan, Oct 29th, 2009 @ 12:21pm

      Re: Ima Fish

      Sure, it is very easy to determine the proper usage of words from the surrounding context, but doesn't it grate on you're brain just a little bit to read mistakes like that? For me it is like a little brain hiccup, I have to consciously think about where someone messed up, and it ends up distracting me from whatever there actual point might've been. Reminds me vaguely of http://xkcd.com/371/

      I mean I know this is a large jump, but I'm sure you've seen that old paragraph where all the letters are scrambled except the first and last, and you can still read it relatively easily. But you end up spending a little bit more of your brain cycles on actually READING than on understanding.

      Either way, I'm not one to yell at someone for improper grammar, but I still appreciate proper grammar as it really does make things easier and clearer to read, even when there is no issue of ambiguity.

       

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    Dark Helmet (profile), Oct 29th, 2009 @ 9:25am

    Hmm...

    Probably the writer in me, but I'm kind of "into" grammar. Which isn't to say that I don't make plenty of mistakes, of course, but I tend to appreciate its importance.

    Trivial matters on the web aside, grammar is important not in so much as representing who is "right" or "wrong", or even educated or not, but rather because, in addition to language being the dialect of vocal communication, it is also the language of THOUGHT. To disdain an understanding of proper language is to disdain that which makes mankind so unique, and I truly believe there is a correlation between the quality of one's language and the quality of one's thought.

    Thinking back to the founding fathers, they simply had a way of words and communication that at the very least SEEMS so far and away beyond what we hear today that it is mind boggling. The eloquence with which they spoke perhaps helps to explain the regard with which our nation's leaders were held in the early days of our history.

    We see such distinctions in modern days as well. Truly, the biggest, or at least more noticeable difference between our current and last Presidents have been their ability to communicate. That certainly involves many factors, but elegance and proper use of language is among them. And while we might not all be speaking to foreign dignitaries and the like, if communication, both written and spoken, is in large part what makes us human, then shouldn't we at least make a passing effort at excellence in its regard?

    ***This message brought to you by the Dark Helmet Organization on Pretty Words and Comma Prevalence***

     

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      :Lobo Santo (profile), Oct 29th, 2009 @ 9:37am

      Re: Hmm...

      For awhile now I've been pondering a theory relating to "Grammar Nazis" (specifically; those who seek to keep a language from changing) and time travel...

      If the language changes too rapidly, one's communicative abilities become less reliable the further you travel from your own era... whereas language which stays static for awhile leaves a nice, wide area in which you can travel.

       

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        davebarnes (profile), Oct 29th, 2009 @ 9:43am

        Thanks for revealing the truth

        Those time travelers will soon be visiting you to get you to recant.
        You are a dangerous person.

         

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          :Lobo Santo (profile), Oct 29th, 2009 @ 9:46am

          Re: Thanks for revealing the truth

          Nah, killing somebody for revealing such is far too obvious--unless it looks like an accident.

          Better to ignore them and spread hoax rumors. People are much more like to believe 'it's a hoax' than some crap about 'time travel.'

          : P

           

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            Dark Helmet (profile), Oct 29th, 2009 @ 9:49am

            Re: Re: Thanks for revealing the truth

            Hey, did you guys know that :Lobo Santo raporizes grandmother puppies while also giving bailouts to large corporate executives practicing socialism, witchcraft, and Judaism all at once?

            Well? DID YOU??!!?!

             

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      John Doe, Oct 29th, 2009 @ 9:58am

      Re: Hmm...

      What does it mean if my only though is of beer?

       

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      Marcus Carab (profile), Oct 29th, 2009 @ 10:30am

      Re: Hmm...

      Agreed! The number one reason I want to learn more languages is not for the ability to communicate, but for the experience of thinking with a different lexicon - an especially fascinating concept when you get into Turkic languages that flip the structure of words (and thus thoughts) completely on end.

      Following proper grammar keeps your mind sharp, and acts as a sign of commitment and thoroughness. Bad grammar doesn't invalidate a good idea, but good grammar definitely enhances that idea and makes it more likely to resonate with the audience.

      Of course, I completely agree that nitpicking about grammar on blog posts is pointless. I can't understand why people even bother when it comes to their/there/they're and such - in fact, it's higher level grammar errors that drive me nuts. Misplaced modifiers, for example, go completely unnoticed by many people, but they cause those who do notice to stumble, roll their eyes, chuckle or all three.

       

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      ChimpBush McHitlerBurton, Oct 29th, 2009 @ 10:42am

      Re: Hmm...

      I could care less about grammer it isn't what your writing but what your saying that matters people are so hung up on meaning that they dont stop to smell the roses. Irregardless, it makes little difference if i spell right or rong, as long as you udersand my meening.

      people think their better than you because they graduated high school or something. it doesunt matter anyways. i have a good job and i pay my taxis, why cant i get the same respect?

      people need to get a live if they want to juje because i know alot of stuff and mabe more than you mister high scool.

      CBMHB

       

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        Marcus Carab (profile), Oct 29th, 2009 @ 10:59am

        Re: Re: Hmm...

        You might think it makes little difference, but the cold hard fact is that it DOES make a difference to a lot of people. I would have a damn hard time taking you seriously if your grammar was as bad as that (presumably exaggerated) example, and what you were saying would have to be extremely insightful and original for me to focus on your point and not your abysmal communication skills.

         

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          ChimpBush McHitlerBurton, Oct 29th, 2009 @ 11:04am

          Re: Re: Re: Hmm...

          My point exactly.

          CBMHB

           

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          hegemon13, Oct 29th, 2009 @ 11:49am

          Re: Re: Re: Hmm...

          I would go a step further. I would never bother trying to decipher such abysmal communication. If you don't care enough about your "brilliant" or "insightful" thought to communicate it clearly, I don't care what you have to say. I should not have to work to decipher your thoughts when we have a language that empowers you to communicate them with perfect clarity.

           

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        Overtkill (profile), Oct 29th, 2009 @ 11:03am

        Re: Re: Hmm...

        To: "ChimpBush McHitlerBurton"

        Thanks for the laugh! :)

         

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        LostSailor (profile), Oct 29th, 2009 @ 12:16pm

        Re: Re: Hmm...

        Highly amusing. If you write poorly, most people are going to assume that you think poorly as well, whether that's true or not. If what you're writing matters, it should matter enough to write correctly.

         

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      johnney (profile), Oct 29th, 2009 @ 3:11pm

      Re: Hmm...

      The REAL question here is can it be read upside down?
      It really only counts for language translations.

       

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    JonMontgo (profile), Oct 29th, 2009 @ 9:33am

    Although I can agree with avoiding criticizing blog posts and other informal works, as a writer I always find that most "bad" stories are not truly bad, they just suffer from bad grammar.

    In a blog post or forum minor errors are permitted and frankly don't bother me. Even I make them. I find however,that I avoid forums and posts that do not use standard sentence structure. *Shrug* Just my two cents, I know you make a post in a hurry but do you really need to shorten all your words and not capitalize?

     

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    Jim L, Oct 29th, 2009 @ 9:40am

    Grammer Aint So Important

    Tell that to my two older sisters. Both became teachers.

     

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    Free Capitalist (profile), Oct 29th, 2009 @ 9:42am

    And while we might not all be speaking to foreign dignitaries and the like, if communication, both written and spoken, is in large part what makes us human, then shouldn't we at least make a passing effort at excellence in its regard?


    Good point.

    I would add that worst chronic offenders should be punishable by creative and painful means at the discretion of the listener. After all, being forced to listen to some of the more annoying grammatical slackers out there is no different than being subjected to a SYN ACK attack.

     

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    wirtes (profile), Oct 29th, 2009 @ 9:47am

    Imma let you Finnish, but...

    I was once a very junior executive in Knight-Ridder, fresh out of B-F Indiana. After a rather informal meeting with other executives, a senior executive pulled me aside and said, "I can't believe that I heard the word 'irregardless' come out of your mouth -- that is not a word! You're not a hayseed. You work for the second largest newspaper chain in the country. Speak like it."

    Was he a jerk? You bet.

    Have I ever said "irregardless" again? Not even once.

    Take the criticism and an opportunity. Grammar matters.

     

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      Mike Moon, Oct 29th, 2009 @ 11:43am

      don't judge me...

      oh wow...that musta made your stomach knot...i can't imagine that situation. something nice about being able make little mistakes and not have it matter.

      on the other hand, i always cringe when i hear my coworkers use a double-negative, or break some other elementary rule. the speech patterns of my peers really gives me an idea on which rung of the social ladder i stand.

      hence the txt-style posting :D

      i do like the freedom that our quip-culture has given us in writing. i used to get docked a lot as a kid for writing outside of standard form. usually it was for short, incomplete sentences. thoughts as sentences. i think i learned that from reading techno thrillers.

      now, colloquialism seems commonplace. it's actually kinda nice to use "dunno," "imma" or "gonna," without criticism. go ahead. :D

       

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    roxanneadams (profile), Oct 29th, 2009 @ 9:49am

    The only thing that makes me really insane is when people use texting shorthand on a blog or in a grown-up discussion forum. UR grt. Same 2 u. God, that drives me crazy and I truly believe that using text shorthand when one is not texting is a sign of low-class and even lower intelligence.

    Everything else I overlook. Life is too short to obsess over other people's grammar mistakes.

     

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    robin, Oct 29th, 2009 @ 10:07am

    rules and death

    grammar rules strikes me as an oxymoron anyway.

    as soon as language is locked down with rules, it begins to die. language is alive, always changing.

     

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      Matthew Cruse (profile), Oct 29th, 2009 @ 10:45am

      Re: rules and death

      Yes it's always changing, but without rules, or structure if you prefer, then the changes are chaotic, disrtuptive and counter productive. Changes should happen in a way that advances language in a way that makes it easier to communicate, not harder.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 29th, 2009 @ 10:08am

    Irony

    "If the text makes the point in a way that people can understand, what is the problem?"

    I had to read this sentence twice as I had found it contradictory the first time through. It was confusing.

    This amuses me as I was already agreeing with you that your grammar is never bad and was thinking to myself as I was reading that "as long as its clear, what does it matter?" when I stumbled on this sentence.

    Still down with Grammar Nazis. They also Godwin a topic by default.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 29th, 2009 @ 10:11am

    i dun't cee wat da ishoe iz?

     

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    Chris Rhodes (profile), Oct 29th, 2009 @ 10:16am

    The goal of communication is to have your reader understand what you are saying. Small problems in grammar and spelling that do not impact this goal are not really worth pointing out.

    If, however, your attempt at communication causes the reader's brain to stutter and reboot in protest of an incomprehensible sentence structure, then you have failed in your goal, and figuring out where you went wrong is pretty important.

     

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    herodotus (profile), Oct 29th, 2009 @ 10:30am

    A lot of people are confused about grammar.

    Grammar, properly understood, is a study of the structure of language. The linguistic etiquette that many people understand to be 'grammar' hasn't been taken seriously by the real language experts, people like Chomsky or Hjelmslev or Lamb or Pike and their followers, for many years.

    The only reasons to worry about linguistic etiquette are either aesthetic or social. These are not unimportant concerns, and anyone who wants to be taken seriously or even just left alone in a given social circle should observe and conform to the language patterns of it's members.

    But the people who obsess over other peoples linguistic usage should not be called grammar nazis, they should be called by their proper name: schoolmarms.

     

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    G, Oct 29th, 2009 @ 10:31am

    Grammarz fracken RuLeZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ

     

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    Brad Hubbard (profile), Oct 29th, 2009 @ 10:39am

    All-purpose response

    Grammar Nazi: "You used ______ incorrectly!"

    Response1: "English is a living language. I used a colloquialism or dialectal variance, either of which is perfectly acceptable and accurate."

     

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    LostSailor (profile), Oct 29th, 2009 @ 10:40am

    Effective Communication

    Grammar rules are mostly to make people feel elite, not to make them any clearer, according to the book.

    I echo what Chris and others have said. The point of grammar is effective communication of ideas. Some grammar "rules," such as the oft-mentioned rule about split infinitives, are in most circumstances somewhat silly. But others are reasonable rules for effectively and clearly communicating a writer's ideas to a reader. Spelling and proper punctuation count as well.

    If the text makes the point in a way that people can understand, what is the problem?

    This is often a fine standard for informal writing, but the problem is that while you may think that your idea is perfectly communicated, if you use poor grammar, punctuation, and sentence structure, you may not, in fact, be communicating effectively.

    On occasion, Mike, you've accused me in comments of "twisting" or not understanding your words. I'd submit that this may not be true; it's possible that you communicated your idea poorly and left yourself open to a reading of your words that was other than you intended, no matter how convinced you are that you wrote clearly.

    Pointing out grammatical lapses in blog comments is pointless. However, for anyone who writes professionally, and bloggers such as yourself certainly qualify, paying attention to good grammar, spelling, and proper punctuation is almost a duty if you want to communicate effectively and be taken seriously.

    Forget manuals of style. I'd recommend The Careful Writer: A Modern Guide to English Usage by Theodore M. Bernstein. It's perhaps the best guide to good writing around.

    My favorite part:

    Grave issues of law have hung on commas.... Michigan discovered that its state constitution inadvertently legalized slavery. Section 8, Article 2, read: "Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, unless for the punishment of crime, shall ever be tolerated in this state." It was decided to move the comma after "servitude" and place it after "slavery."


    Indeed, our modern political life would be much easier if the Founding Fathers had used clearer punctuation in the Second Amendment in the bill of rights.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Oct 29th, 2009 @ 11:39am

      Re: Effective Communication

      Michigan discovered that its state constitution inadvertently legalized slavery.

      Could that have been the way it was actually originally meant? That would have put put it in alignment with the 13th amendment to the US Constitution which also specifically allows slavery as punishment for crimes. (No, slavery has not been completely outlawed in the US).

       

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        LostSailor (profile), Oct 29th, 2009 @ 11:54am

        Re: Re: Effective Communication

        No.

        And the fact that you seem to think that slavery is legal in the U.S. under certain circumstances due to the wording of the Thirteenth Amendment makes my case for me.

        Fortunately, the Supreme Court has ruled in numerous cases that the Thirteenth Amendment makes the ownership of human beings illegal in this country.

         

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          Anonymous Coward, Oct 31st, 2009 @ 9:50pm

          Re: Re: Re: Effective Communication

          And the fact that you seem to think that slavery is legal in the U.S. under certain circumstances due to the wording of the Thirteenth Amendment makes my case for me.

          Fortunately, the Supreme Court has ruled in numerous cases that the Thirteenth Amendment makes the ownership of human beings illegal in this country.


          Legally, involuntary servitude is defined and prosecuted as slavery in the US. Now, if you can cite for us the "numerous cases" in which the Supreme Court ruled that involuntary servitude is illegal as a punishment for crime then I would be glad to know of it.

          Yeah, I didn't think so.

           

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    Pickle Monger (profile), Oct 29th, 2009 @ 10:56am

    Grammar rules

    "There are times, however, when I feel that the strict "rules" that are put forth by grammar go too far."

    Maybe you could switch to Russian? :-) Grammar rules are much more "relaxed": the rules that do exist are clear cut and fairly simple. Not to mention only three tenses! If only it weren't so damn foreign...

     

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    Derek Reed (profile), Oct 29th, 2009 @ 11:02am

    Grammar

    While it's indisputable that petulant snobs pointing out tiny mistakes are doing so for their own emotional gain, there's something to be said for the impact your use (or misuse) of grammar has on the way your message is perceived.

    Grammar Nazi's are full of themselves clearly, but the way you say stuff impacts how it's seen.

    Even if the message is understood, it doesn't mean the message is the same.

     

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    Jason, Oct 29th, 2009 @ 11:04am

    To me it's a question of art.

    Grammar in language is like conventions in art. You learn the rules so that you can break them beautifully.

    Some people may never learn certain rules, yet their own natural aesthetic sense consistently renders something utterly compelling. A rough cut diamond.

    Some people use grammar perfectly with effusive pedantry and seem to enjoy screwing up a beautifully simple idea. A gilded lily.

    Some people learn the rules, but don't give a crap. Their sloppy language only serves to emphasize sloppy logic. Shit on a pig.

    Mainly though, most people are just plain, white bread.

     

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    Jason, Oct 29th, 2009 @ 11:05am

    To me it's a question of art.

    Grammar in language is like conventions in art. You learn the rules so that you can break them beautifully.

    Some people may never learn certain rules, yet their own natural aesthetic sense consistently renders something utterly compelling. A rough cut diamond.

    Some people use grammar perfectly with effusive pedantry and seem to enjoy screwing up a beautifully simple idea. A gilded lily.

    Some people learn the rules, but don't give a crap. Their sloppy language only serves to emphasize sloppy logic. Shit on a pig.

    Mainly though, most people are just plain, white bread.

     

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      Jason, Oct 29th, 2009 @ 11:09am

      Re: To me it's a question of art.

      And sometimes you leave the domain off your email address, notice it as you post, think that must be why your post didn't appear, repost, and...

       

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        Jason, Oct 29th, 2009 @ 11:11am

        Re: Re: To me it's a question of art.

        The last one is me, btw, a hapless toad.

         

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          Anonymous Coward, Oct 29th, 2009 @ 11:38am

          Re: Re: Re: To me it's a question of art.

          I am utterly incensed as a Posting Nazi. I wish I could submit you to a place where you would learn to concentrate. Some sort of camp.

           

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            nasch (profile), Oct 29th, 2009 @ 3:21pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: To me it's a question of art.

            I am utterly incensed as a Posting Nazi. I wish I could submit you to a place where you would learn to concentrate. Some sort of camp.

            Really, actually LOL. Marvelous.

             

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    Grammer Not Z, Oct 29th, 2009 @ 11:08am

    Touchy Subject Apparently

    I find it interesting to note that so many comments were posted so quickly to this subject. Must have touched a common nerve somewhere...

     

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      LostSailor (profile), Oct 29th, 2009 @ 12:21pm

      Re: Touchy Subject Apparently

      Hey, don't get me started on the correct use of the defining and non-defining relative pronouns "that" and "which."

      Or misuse of such phrases as "I couldn't care less."

      It could get ugly fast!

       

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    Charlie Potatoes, Oct 29th, 2009 @ 11:10am

    It's all about clarity ...

    "Sure, if I reprehend any thing in this world it is the use of my oracular tongue, and a nice derangement of epitaphs!" ... Mrs. Malaprop

     

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    herodotus (profile), Oct 29th, 2009 @ 11:15am

    "Yes, which is why you shouldn't end a sentence in a preposition..."

    Yes, but then the clause in question would become: "...but isn't it important to understand the language in which you are writing?", which sounds prissy as all hell.

     

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    The Buzz Saw (profile), Oct 29th, 2009 @ 11:16am

    self-inflicted

    I'm a Grammar Nazi with myself. I'm the kind of person who will edit his forum posts afterward to cleanup errors. I will use the classic asterisk correction method in chat clients. For other people, I wait until those grand opportunities to edit their school essays for whatever class we're in. :)

     

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    Jack Lynch, Oct 29th, 2009 @ 11:19am

    Lexicographer's Dilemma

    Thanks for the interest in my book. In it I try to explain where our different ideas about the "rules" of English come from, and I encourage people to think about what's "appropriate" rather than what's "right." I'm certainly not saying anything goes, but I'd like to see people talk about the language with a little understanding of how we got here.

     

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    mike allen (profile), Oct 29th, 2009 @ 11:25am

    nazis

    forget the word grammar they are just control freaks go get them mike.

     

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    Ben, Oct 29th, 2009 @ 11:47am

    I are fine, how am you?

    Watch Jerry Springer, those people write like they talk.

     

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    This is me., Oct 29th, 2009 @ 12:15pm

    About that.

    Grammar boils down to something very simple:

    Proper usage of grammar indicates that someone has spent the time to appear intelligent to others.

    It isn't rocket science, as they say, to learn you own native language properly. Just because someone understands the general meaning behind slang and innuendos and just because people can gather from context the meaning of "their" "there" and "they're" doesn't mean you should neglect it.

    The point being: proper grammar is what generally divides the educated from uneducated.

    If you can't take the 30 seconds it takes to make a sentence look intelligent, then that tells me something about your character.

    I don't expect people to write in proper English for texting on phones or when they're bored and FEYUL LAIK RITING IN LOLCAT SPEEK. Nor do I expect people to remember where the heck to put a semicolon vs a comma...

    ...but for goodness sake learn how to SPELL.

    You might not care, and your equally illiterate friends might not take notice, but OTHER people will move you down a notch on their ladder of respect.

    Also grammar may not be a product of direct intelligence, but it sure as hell tells shows whether or not you give a sh*t. Poor grammar sends a powerful message that you don't care enough to correct yourself or to maintain yourself in the eyes of other people.

    It equates to getting up every day and not shaving or combing your hair. Sure, you get the same quality of work done at your job whether or not you fix your looks each morning, but you certainly won't get the same respect or give off the same message as when you took care of yourself.

    Get the point yet?

     

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      ChimpBush McHitlerBurton, Oct 29th, 2009 @ 3:12pm

      Re: About that.

      "It equates to getting up every day and not shaving or combing your hair. Sure, you get the same quality of work done at your job whether or not you fix your looks each morning, but you certainly won't get the same respect or give off the same message as when you took care of yourself."

      Yes, so to all you "Grammar Freedom" advocates: This is why you can't get a date. What girl in her right mind wants to go out with a guy who sports the written equivalent of B.O. and a bad scratching habit?

       

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    @jeffscott, Oct 29th, 2009 @ 12:22pm

    Stephen Fry on language

    You should have a listen to the lovely and erudite sometimes-linguist, Mr Stephen Fry, on language: http://j.mp/QxfBp

    Enjoy!

     

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    tracker1 (profile), Oct 29th, 2009 @ 12:40pm

    I think it depends on a given context...

    I'm far from a grammar Nazi, but it really does irritate me when a professional work, that I pay to read has simple spelling and grammatical errors. I think it's far worse today that 20 years ago. Where is the editorial staff in publishing? Isn't it their job to proofread the content they intend to put to print?

     

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    Vidiot, Oct 29th, 2009 @ 12:44pm

    Birds of a feather

    Here's a scary correlation: The compulsive need to correct any and all deviations from perfection leans toward the Asperger-ish... like Andy Breckman's "Mr. Monk" aligning map push pins in even, symmetrical patterns. And others have reported the significant link between that syndrome and tech-immersed personality types, as evidenced by excellence in logic and numerical thinking as well as deficiencies in... umm.. social skills. So could it be that the correction compulsion, plus the inability to comprehend potential offense, is to be expected in the tech community?

    Remember, it's okay to think these thoughts, but there's no requirement to act on them.

     

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    Korrosive, Oct 29th, 2009 @ 12:53pm

    We are technical

    I think one of the issues here is that as 'techies' we understand the amount of pain that a simple error may cause. It's like using the wrong variable. If you happen to do so, the results could be deadly.

     

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    Beta, Oct 29th, 2009 @ 1:03pm

    In no particular order...


    1. It's a matter of courtesy. As DCX2 and others have pointed out, grammatical errors are an unpleasant distraction to the reader. And that's at best, when the errors aren't severe enough to render the text incomprehensibabble.
    2. It's a matter of credibility. If the writer didn't know how to write correctly (or didn't bother) then it's that much less likely that the content will be worth the effort to untangle. A non-native writer is the exception that proves the rule-- I will pass over a lot of small mistakes if I know that English is not the author's first language, because I know that they have nothing to do with the qualities of mind that produce good content.
    3. It's a matter of public mental hygiene. Sloppy language can obscure sloppy thinking, so that sometimes a whole argument (or political philosophy) depends entirely on bad usage for its survival. (Don't believe me? Consider the word "need".) To discourage sloppy language is to promote an environment where bad ideas can't spread easily.

     

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    Bob Webster (profile), Oct 29th, 2009 @ 1:18pm

    A

    I did not see a single grammatical error in this article. No speling errors, either.

     

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    Tom Black, Oct 29th, 2009 @ 1:42pm

    News Flash - Different Words Have *GASP* Different Meanings!

    There are different words with different meanings that all sound alike but are spelled differently. They're called homophones. If you actually believe that having the ability to differentiate between the various meanings of different words isn't important to good written communication you are truly ignorant. Maybe it'd be okay to replace the word "car" with the word "care". It's close enough for you, right?

     

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    Ted, Oct 29th, 2009 @ 1:42pm

    Grammar Snobs

    I'm an ESL teacher and have been for 7 or 8 years now. Grammar rules are 'descriptive', NOT 'prescriptive'. If the meaning is clear, then you have accomplished your aim - which is to successfully send a message through the medium of written (or spoken) text. As long as message sent = message received, you have been successful. That's the bottom line.

    Grammar snobs are, well - snobs.

     

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      Marcus Carab (profile), Oct 29th, 2009 @ 1:46pm

      Re: Grammar Snobs

      I think you have highlighted the point nicely. Grammar must fit context. For people learning ESL, clearly being able to communicate their ideas is the most (and often only) important thing.

      But if you think that's the "bottom line" and that grammar rules have no place, you are being somewhat shortsighted, and a bit of a snob yourself.

       

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      Dark Helmet (profile), Oct 29th, 2009 @ 1:50pm

      Re: Grammar Snobs

      "Grammar rules are 'descriptive', NOT 'prescriptive'."

      Absolutely correct, but that's EXACTLY the point us "snobs" are making. Complex thought can only be described through complex language, and for everyone to be able to understand the meaning of complex language, common practices and rules must be followed, thus grammar and syntax. All kinds of minor inflections, stressors, etc. can be lost with minor errors in grammar, and for complex thought this can go a long way towards killing the meaning behind the thought. Proper grammar may in certain instances aid in describing.

      "If the meaning is clear, then you have accomplished your aim"

      Fair enough, but it should be stressed that the aim is to have the EXACT meaning of the expression be entirely clear. Language is one case where good enough is NEVER good enough.

      "As long as message sent = message received, you have been successful."

      Yes, but again, in the interest of true understanding of one another, it has to be as exact as we can get. Good enough doesn't cut it with language.

      "Grammar snobs are, well - snobs."

      No, we just happen to believe that when it comes to universal practices such as language, there is a right way to do things and a wrong way, with all the benefits and detriments that such distinctions entail.

      Plus we're better than you.

      And I am SOOOO cereal....

       

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        Marcus Carab (profile), Oct 29th, 2009 @ 3:51pm

        Re: Re: Grammar Snobs

        You're making me feel philosophical now, so I will add:

        One of the biggest challenges for humanity, and one of the seemingly cruelest facts about our mysterious nature, is that we are all completely isolated. Not one of us is ever able to completely communicate the true nature of our perceptions, ideas and emotions to another person. At some point you've probably considered the notion that what you see as red and blue could be different from what I see, and we would never know - but if you follow that line of thought, you realize the same is true of everything, right down to the very texture of thought and self-awareness.

        This fact is what gave rise to language in the first place. And it could be argued that all of human art, literature, poetry and music is an attempt to bridge the divide between our isolated selves and communicate something fully, even if it's only a single moment of emotion or the essence of an idea. I think this is a glorious pursuit, and precise language is one of the tools we use in it.

        Many people value language a great deal, and revel in the process of examining it closely to discover its nuanced meanings. We don't ask that everyone do the same (I am very glad others put their minds to different tasks) but we do feel some responsibility to defend the language when it is egregiously assaulted.

         

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        Marcus Carab (profile), Oct 29th, 2009 @ 4:22pm

        Re: Re: Grammar Snobs

        By the way, excluding the first line, I was still addressing Ted there. (I don't want you to think you got completely and utterly misunderstood twice in one day DH)

         

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 29th, 2009 @ 2:41pm

    To all that like to correct others please go to lang-8 there your efforts will be very much appreciated LoL

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 29th, 2009 @ 3:03pm

    Hey Mike,

    I'm with you on this one, but with the declining doller, and if you can't use grammer right, you should hire a skilled immigrant to edit and proofreed your works before you post them.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 29th, 2009 @ 3:16pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    But that makes me wonder who is proofreading Mike's book.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 29th, 2009 @ 3:29pm

    Adith Multilingual Services Pvt. Ltd.

    Hi Mike,

    This company provides "Outsourced Proofing Solutions". And it looks like they have "High Quality". They seem reasonable, and can translate in more than 150 Foreign and Indian Languages.

    :-)

    http://www.thelanguagetranslation.com/services/our-quality.html

     

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    Omar, Oct 29th, 2009 @ 3:46pm

    Need Help Editing and proofing? Language Aide is your helping hand!

    Hello Distinguished Person,

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 29th, 2009 @ 4:15pm

    If the text makes the point in a way that people can understand, what is the problem?


    I think the bar should be considerably higher than this, at least for anything I'm likely to bother trying to read. Things like capitalization and punctuation are used for a reason: they make writing easier (and quicker) to read, even when they aren't needed to avoid ambiguity. Bad grammar can be distracting and confusing as well, even if it's possible to figure out what was intended.

    As for prescriptive grammar in schools, back when I was in school, I was annoyed on many occasions when my English teachers declared that things like split infinitives were disallowed, because I knew that people have long used those constructions and that sometimes using them can be the best way to convey one's thoughts.

    Now though, I realize that my English teachers were completely right to make rules like that. The fact is, the vast majority of the time a high school student breaks one of these rules (even the "rules" that I disagreed with) they're engaging in bad writing. By demanding that students follow these rules, teachers can improve the writing of the vast majority of the students, while not adversely affecting the writing of few students who know better. I think this was even beneficial to me as well, as it made me pay more attention every time I used those constructions to whether there might be a better way to express the same thing.

    Here's a contrived example: whether or not the sentence "A preposition is a word you should never end a sentence with" is grammatically incorrect, the sentence "You should never end a sentence with a preposition" is a far better way to say the same thing.

    English, used properly, does end sentences with prepositions [does that make them postpositions?].


    I seem to recall that "postponed preposition" is the term. There are good linguistic reasons (which I don't remember) not to call them postpositions.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Oct 29th, 2009 @ 4:28pm

      Re:

      "back when I was in school, I was annoyed on many occasions when my English teachers declared that things like split infinitives were disallowed"


      Yes. Those damned split infinitives. They always ruined the weekend parties too. They were so annoying.

       

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      nasch (profile), Oct 30th, 2009 @ 8:17am

      Re:

      Here's a contrived example: whether or not the sentence "A preposition is a word you should never end a sentence with" is grammatically incorrect, the sentence "You should never end a sentence with a preposition" is a far better way to say the same thing.

      If I'm not mistaken, the reason the second way is better is because it's in the active voice, and the first is in the passive voice (in the first, the verb is "to be", in the second, it's "end"). I think I'm right about that anyway.... if so, that would make the example contrived because it actually has nothing to do with ending a sentence with a preposition, which is on its own perfectly fine.

       

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    jeff G, Oct 29th, 2009 @ 6:56pm

    Grammar doesn't really matter unless you're writing for a company or school that has specific grammar rules. The writer is an artist and paper is their canvas. have fun!

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Oct 30th, 2009 @ 9:46am


    If I'm not mistaken, the reason the second way is better is because it's in the active voice, and the first is in the passive voice (in the first, the verb is "to be", in the second, it's "end"). I think I'm right about that anyway.... if so, that would make the example contrived because it actually has nothing to do with ending a sentence with a preposition, which is on its own perfectly fine.


    No, there's no passive voice there, just an extra clause making things more complicated than they needed to be: the point was that trying to "correct" the preposition at the end could lead to better writing, even if the preposition wasn't really itself the problem.

    A passive voice version might be something like "A sentence should never be ended with a preposition" (which is probably even worse writing).

    I think passive voice is actually a far better example of the sort of thing I was talking about. I had at least one English teacher who told us that using the passive voice was wrong and that we weren't allowed to do it. Of course, in fact the passive voice is a useful part of the English language, but in many cases using the passive voice isn't the best way to say something, and that English teacher forced students to pay attention to that.

    (Of course, I don't think most "grammar nazis" on the internet are really so interested in improving anyone's writing; it's more just another example of the various trash-talking that people wouldn't do in person but can let out on the internet with little fear of any consequences...)

     

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    Bav (profile), Oct 30th, 2009 @ 11:14am

    .
    .
    "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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    Miyna, Nov 1st, 2009 @ 6:06am

    I disagree

    While I understand that tone is everything, and that tone isn't always easily understood over the internet, the idea that people shouldn't use proper grammar whenever possible is horrific.

    I'm not defending people who are complete jerks about it, and I'm not talking about using big words and complicated sentences, I only mean that proper word usage -- your v. you're, do v. due, etc. -- and spelling are important. Simplifying language and butchering it are entirely different things.

    I fully believe that the people who have the biggest problem with so-called Grammar Nazis are those who don't understand basic grammar (and spelling!), due to substandard teaching. I am discomfited to learn that some of the professors and teachers responsible for this are climbing on the bandwagon instead of taking responsibility. Don't get me started on the parenting involved in this endemic.

    It appears, then, that the issue has come full circle -- from substandard education to improper grammar, leading to the abundance of incorrect spelling and word usage and the defense of it by substandard educators, and by those who are not well taught.

     

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    Rekrul, Nov 1st, 2009 @ 2:32pm

    If the text makes the point in a way that people can understand, what is the problem?

    I is agreeing with you. Two many peoples get two uptite about grammatological stuffs. Its grate when peoples trys to right gooder, butt as long as they gots there point across, whats the problems?

     

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    whatever, Nov 1st, 2009 @ 4:27pm

    "...suggesting that making such an elementary grammatical error suggests that I obviously never made it out of the second grade."

    Excuse me, that's quite possibly because an elementary grammatical error makes you *sound* like you never made it out of the second grade. So a big fat DUH to you.

    And while I'm here, I'll don my nazi cap:
    "Grammar rules are mostly to make people feel elite, not to make them any clearer, according to the book."

    That is a poorly constructed sentence. It is not clear whether "them" is referring to "grammar rules" or "people". Tsk tsk.

    Oh, and here's a news flash: just because it says so in a book, albeit by a professor, doesn't make it "so". It's still just one person's opinion.

    I concur with Dark Helmet in that quality of language is paramount.

    (btw, you need to indent the list numbering a bit on your comments .. it's being chopped off)

     

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    Mark, Apr 24th, 2011 @ 5:31am

    If we can understand each other then who cares?

    Most of it is to make people feel elite. All languages have rules. Regardless, most of us can successfully communicate without following every single rule to the T.

    What's really sad is that all these rules make life more difficult for people. We could easily communicate without such a technical language. Problem is, we think it makes us intelligent.

    It seems most humans have a little snob in them. Grammar snobs, music snobs, food snobs, literary snobs, etc.

     

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    Jolie du Pre, Sep 25th, 2011 @ 9:56pm

    Grammar snobs

    "A grammar snob is someone who likes to use grammar, spelling, usage, etc. to humiliate and ridicule other people. Grammar snobs should never be confused with their gentle cousins, words nerds and grammar geeks." - June Casagrande

     

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