Thursday, October 18, 2012

A letter: Dear Grammar Police

Dear Grammar Police


You know who you are, you are the people that think because you have a good grasp on where an apostrophe goes and never ever use the incorrect version of your or there that you have the right to let everyone else know about it.

You correct facebook updates and tweets, leave comments to just ‘let someone know of their error’ so that you can save the world of incorrect grammar and spelling usage.

Please stop it.

Some people have other talents other than writing. Some people have not received the education standards you did. There are some people who have this thing called a learning disability, they struggle their entire lives to get the words correct and go to great lengths to hide their disability from people like you. They should be free to communicate without the fear of correction. When you kindly remind someone of where to place an apostrophe you are only belittling him or her, usually publicly. It is not your duty to correct, save it for those who ask for assistance, I promise you there are thousands of us out there happy to ask when we need help.

Do you speak multiple languages? Imagine if you did and sometimes you mixed up the rules for different languages. I know I would rather have the linguistic skills of these people than the grammar skills you so highly regard.  

Some people can whip up a fabulous meal or they might be crafty, they might just be the most excellent friend you could ever want. Does it matter that much to you if their written english is lacking?

Personally, I have lazy writing skills, I often have errors, some are typos and some are from poor (or non existent) proof reading.  I also mispronounce the spoken word quite often. I hear and dislike the incorrect use of many words I don’t feel the need to jump up and tell people how to speak.

Take a break grammar police. If you understand the concept of what the person has written and they are not asking for someone to review their writing then let it go.

Lastly, words and grammar evolve naturally over time so while (whilst) you think that rule is not flexible, sometimes it is. And (never start a sentence with and apparently) words and language will continue to change whether you keep up or not.

Kind regards
Clairey Hewitt, self confessed over user of exclamation marks and often incorrect user of apostrophes. 



P.S.  Feel free to correct my errors if it makes you feel better.

33 comments:

  1. I'm a bit of grammar nazi but I generally keep my opinions to myself for all the reasons you mentioned above but it's also a petty thing to pick a fight over.

    Besides I am the worst proofreader of my own work, so who am I to talk.

    Love & stuff
    Mrs M

    ReplyDelete
  2. Yes! Grammar police make me nervous. I suck at grammar. And spelling.

    I try, but I ain't perfect.

    Thank you for this. x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Chantelle, ain't ain't a word! sorry couldn't resist ;-) (and then they put the winky face so that you think they are joking but they're really not!)

      Delete
    2. Aroha, you are cheeky. But actually ain't is now a word. Rules change, on the ABC Radio this week the dictionary writers indicated they are changing the meaning of the word misogyny after the recent Gillard speach, such is the power of the people using words in common day language.

      Ain't :Apparently used by those less educated among (st) us!! http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/ain't

      Delete
    3. I despise the fact Macquarie is changing the definition of 'misogyny' just because Gillard doesn't know how to use it properly!

      Delete
  3. I'm a word person - I always have been. It's the one thing I'm good at. I have noticed that others perhaps don't place as high a value on it as I do. I don't correct the mistakes of others though unless it is in a professional context (email, report etc.) where potential embarrassment might ensue.

    In the private world of Facebook, Twitter etc. I don't know that it matters so much. As I said, I don't correct people. We're just chatting so what does it matter? It does concern me though that a lengthy comment full of misspellings, lack of punctuation and/or text speak becomes unreadable in some instances. I have to confess that if I see something like that, I won't read it and will probably skim over it.

    I haven't noticed any of your alleged "errors" over here, Clairey. I think you're being a bit harsh on yourself. =) In any case, you communicate well and clearly and that surely is the objective of written communication.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And this is exactly where corrections are needed. At work I will always get people to check my writing and request that corrections are made. I seek out people who are word lovers and know their stuff. There is certainly a place for perfection in language, it is just the idle pick ups in those conversations you mention that bug me.

      Delete
  4. I am probably an inner grammar nazi, but I'm also perfectly aware that even the most rigid users of the language get it wrong. Frequently. Because, as you say, language evolves and people make errors. So, no. I don't call anyone out on it, because I don't want to be called out in return.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Drives me bonkers. I have written about it before too. I am a shit speller and my knowledge of grammar is not all that much better. If you ask me, spelling and grammar rules are not a sign of intelligence. More a sign that you know the conventions of spelling/grammar and have been able to remember them. It does not make one a better or more intelligent person, or a better writer, it just you someone to go to for their editing skills.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Actually, someone who can spell and use proper grammar generally is a better writer. No it doesn't make them a better or more intelligent person, and not necessarily a better story-teller, but it does make them a better writer because that is the whole purpose of spelling and grammar. A few errors aren't going to impede a reader's ability to understand your message but I have tried to read messages on Facebook which, I kid you not, I've had to re-read five times and still don't understand what they're trying to say because of the lack of punctuation, incorrect homonyms and overall bad grammar. I also once read a *newspaper* article where the journalist had written 'road' instead of 'rode' and in such a context that it took me three re-reads of the sentence to understood what it meant. Lose enough grammatical/spelling ability and you lose your ability to communicate properly. It's especially irritating when it's in a publication by someone who supposedly makes a living by writing!

      Delete
  6. This is a really interesting point - it really is all about context, isn't it? I have been (mostly) good at spelling and grammar since I was a kid. Once as a child, I realised that my teacher had made a grammatical mistake. Given she was teaching a whole load of people, I decided to correct her. I don't think she ever forgave me (and yes, I have been scarred for life!).

    At least I did learn to keep my opinions to myself... except when asked to help with proof reading!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Catherine, I actually think this is a setting where correction is ok. If the teacher said whales are hot pink it would be corrected and so too should grammar. It bugs me mainly when it is just everyday people conversing online and being ridiculed.

      Delete
  7. It was only yesterday I saw someone publicly mention another person's incorrect grammar on twitter. Write an email if it bothers you that much!

    I have often had to tell my husband how wonderful it is that he can speak multiple languages after he has been belittled at work by someone over a spelling mistake. Quite often these are people from incredibly privileged backgrounds and I just think it shows a distinct lack of awareness. Great post.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I am a grammar policeman. However, I am over fond of elipses and parentheses and slightly too liberal with my use of commas and exclamation marks! (To be honest, I find them quite cheery!!!)These self-reported faults mean I tend to be keeping my fingers to myself when it comes to grammar policing. The odd mis-placed apostrophe doesn't worry me in the slightest. It's when they're sprinkled with gay abandon throughout something I am reading, and I NOTICE them. Then I get all cranky and discredit in my mind what I'm reading.

    (and I totally apologise if this ends up getting posted multiple times, too!)

    ReplyDelete
  9. I'm strictest on myself. I really am. I have a joke with people if they identify mistakes they've made in their own writing or updates on FB... but I'd never go out of my way to correct someone. See it often. And... ouch! Awkward.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am one of those who corrects themselves and has a laugh and that's ok. Laughing together is good.

      Delete
  10. This is gold, i Love it!
    My spelling is terrible, thank goodness for auto correct.

    ReplyDelete
  11. I get a bit picky about grammar sometimes, but mostly just let my inner control freak out on my husband's use of apostrophes on the shopping list. (And that sentence makes me sound like a complete loser!!)

    ReplyDelete
  12. I used to be a member if the grammar police. I used to raise an eyebrow at every error, every mistake, every typo.

    And.... Then I bought an eye-product.

    And... Then I fell victim to auto-correct (which really needs to change its name to auto-wrong).

    Now? Now I couldn't give two stuffs. Now I try to worry about the emotion rather than the ellipses.

    ReplyDelete
  13. I love the over-use of an exclamation mark - I'm definitely guilty of that one (a lot).

    ReplyDelete
  14. I'm a great lover of exclamation marks!!!! I also LOVE CAPITAL LETTERS!!!!

    ReplyDelete
  15. As dyslexic blogger I couldn't agree me. In fact this post makes me want to stand up and cheer :) The grammer police have a field day over at my place - but I live by the motto it's a very uncreative person who can only spell a word one way :)

    ReplyDelete
  16. Oh my goodness! I needed to see this about 6 months ago so that I could send the link to an old friend.
    We were having a discussion via email about a wedding I went to and spell check changed the word vows to vowels.
    Her response to my entire email was plainly just - "hahahaha I think you mean vows sweety"

    Condescending much? I should have just sent this to her.
    I hate the grammar police! Such fun busters!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I will readily admit to being someone who can't stand bad spelling and grammar. I spent most of my university years (where I did a journalism degree and we had an entire subject dedicated to this type of thing) happily correcting people's grammar online, but then eventually gave it up because I realised there were just way too many people on the internet who can't spell and have bad grammar haha. I couldn't be bothered and decided it just wasn't important enough. Things that are clearly accidents don't worry me (like missing a letter in a word). However I really hate it when people are obviously trying to sound educated and intelligent so use less common words like 'whom'... and use them incorrectly. There is nothing stupid or un-educated sounding about 'who', so don't use the other versions unless you know how to! You sound far more intelligent using 'who' than mis-using 'whom'. I also expect better when it's in a publication or some other print (like street signs), or when the written piece in question is something done in a professional capacity. I also hate when Americans try to correct my british/australian english (favour/favor, realise/realize etc!) But in online discussions between lay people - not worth it, unless it's so bad I really can't understand what they've said.

      Delete
    2. sorry I didn't mean to write that as a reply to Jess, I just didn't notice the 'add comment' link and so accidentally clicked on Jess's 'reply' link!

      Delete
  17. You're right. It can be stressful watching what you write so closely all the time. I lie somewhere in between. I try hard to use correct grammar and spelling, but we are all human and I don't profess to be Grammar girl. Some people need to lighten up, don't they?

    ReplyDelete
  18. People correct other people publicly?! Oh dear, how rude. I would think manners would be far more important than correctness. I like to use apostrophes in the correct place and a few other bits and pieces but really it's only because I have no idea when to use capitals, full stops, new paragraphs, commas and all the other jazz. Celebrate what you can do, ignore what you can't and my gawd, don't be so rude as to highlight someone else's errors.

    ReplyDelete
  19. I struggle with grammar and spelling. To be honest, this was partly why I started writing a blog. I have a lot of thoughts and ideas in my head and wanted to express these through a blog I call my own. I also thought that the more I blog, the better I will become at spelling and grammar. Its like what many parents tell their children, practice and never give up trying.
    I think there is a nice way to advise someone of errors however, there is no need for nasty remarks. There are more people today that really struggle or have learning difficulty and we should be trying to help them rather than kick them whilst they are already down.
    After all, I think it's so good that there are many bloggers writing rather than just sitting watching television or not exercising their brains in some way.

    ReplyDelete
  20. I worry all the time about the grammar police coming after me. I try my best too - but I go back over my own posts or comments mortified .

    I just can't remember the grammar rules {or can't be bothered}.
    I am mindful to spell check and do a basic grammar check before publishing though.

    PS I want to join your club for the self confessed over users of exclamation marks and often incorrect users of apostrophes !

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Consider yourself Chief of Exclamation Marks!

      Delete
  21. I once had someone DM me on twitter to kindly let me know that they had noticed I often misspelled 'definately'. I did kindly thank them but said that was the least of my problems.... Very annoying! x

    ReplyDelete
  22. I'm a book editor, sub-editor and mainstream journo and when I see bad grammar and punctuation online - on blogs and the like - I become irate. When a person posts something online it's as good as published so I believe it needs to be of a certain standard. Newspapers and magazines would NEVER get away with poor use of language (although this is changing with the influx of non-professional writers prepared to write for publications for FREE over professionals who work for a fee), so why should bloggers and users of social media get away with it? Forgiving the occasional misuse of commas and exclamation marks, not checking over copy before pressing the publish button deserves a certain amount of scorn, I think. In my world I'd potentially lose my job for it. By letting it slip by and not acknowledging the decay of language in public forums, are we opening up a void for the future quality - and value - of language? Appreciate your point about people having different levels of ability, though. However, if you're a blogger and want to be taken seriously, I reckon a person needs to take a leaf out of your book, Clairey, and write to a high standard. Otherwise, while not going so far as to advise them of their error (unless they paid me to edit it for them, which some bloggers do!), personally I'll never look at their site again. For those offended by others who choose to correct their language errors - I'll give it to you straight: Toughen up, Princess! Welcome to the publishing world and if you can't take a little constructive criticism from people who have taken the time to write and advise you, then perhaps you're not cut out for this writing for mass consumption gig. Love your blog, Clairey!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Kylie,
      I hear your point about needing to write to a high standard if you want to be considered a "professional" blogger and if someone is wanting to be paid to write for any type of mainstream media they should have specific skills, be they specifically trained or not. However this post was trying to push things a bit further afield than just blogging. A facebook post by non bloggers, a tweet by someone on the run, a text message between friends, comments left by readers.

      I know of bloggers who are dyslexic who have had years of learning but still hitting publish on a post always makes them nervous, but you know, they have great stories to tell, they can tell a good yarn and they entertain me, if I spot a typo or incorrect wording I don't really care because I still understand the story. Same too if one of my commenters isn't great at spelling or English, I want them to know that I would never think less of them if they leave a comment with a few incorrect words, in fact the opposite is true, I still do a little happy dance whenever someone bothers to leave me a comment, so thank you for providing your comment too!


      Delete

Commenting brings amazing luck, you must try it and see how you go!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...