Jan 26, 2012
I was tempted to write that Grammar Nazis are the worst kind, but that’s insensitive. Grammar Nazis are the 3rd worst type of Nazi (behind the original, and the neo varieties of course). I normally don’t pick fights, but when its those who live and die by the sword of Oxford, I unsheathe my dangling participle.
I agree, spelling and grammar are important, but in the same way driving on the right hand side of the road, and not putting aluminum foil in the microwave are. Grammar and spelling are enablers of communication, without which there would be chaos. But they are just guidelines.
Imagine if you will that its July 1969. Across the deep void of space and into the loud speakers of NASA’s Mission Control, a voice echoes “that’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind…” Do you think the response from Houston to Armstrong was “uhh Eagle, don’t you mean ‘that’s one small step for a man’? over…”
Of course not. Nothing burns my ass quite like someone pointing out a grammatical deviation in the midst of a discussion. Its not just that they do it, but its the smug way in which Grammar Nazis display their ability to spot a preposition. Great, that spelling award you didn’t get in Grade 1, you’ve corrected that injustice. Why not go eat some paste while you are it?
Language is a palette. There are no rules, there is no right or wrong. If a story can be told, a point articulated, or an emotion conveyed, then what the hell does it matter if one chooses to use a semi-colon or a period? An Oxford comma, really? Charles Dickens wrote sentences that literally went for pages at a time. Tell me Herr Grammar Nazi, is he a rube? Do you scoff at his work with your noses held to the sky? i can write the rest of this post without using upper-casing, tell me i am stupid.
my theory on grammar sticklers is intellectual insecurity. the pedant’s crutch. how can memorization of a rule book and an even greater obsession in conforming to it imply intellectual worth? it exhibits the opposite.
but pedantry is not the whole of it. whats worse is the judgmental mindset of a grammar nazi. in the eyes of the spelling ss, you are either smart or not. remember that comma you dropped? well the grammar nazi has cast you back into the fiery chasm of stupidity… from whence you came.
to my fault, i smell blood in the water when a grammar nazi throws down their spelling spike strip, and i go to town on them. but ive tried to change. recently ive learned to rub my ears and whisper woo-saa instead of engaging a grammar nazi. in the end, calling out a grammar nazi for what they are feels like being team canada and running up the score against iceland, its a lot of fun, but its not fair.