Sep 17, 2014

Confessions of a Grammar Nazi

"The greater part of the world's troubles
 are due to questions of grammar."
                                                    --Michel de Montaigne

"I never made a mistake in grammar but one
 in my life and as soon as I done it I seen it."
                                                    --Carl Sandburg

commentary by killre

Here are a couple more, from lesser-known sources:

"Social criticism begins with grammar
 and the re-establishment of meanings."
                                                    --Octavio Paz

"It's hard to take someone seriously when they
 leave a note saying, 'Your ugly.'  My ugly what?"
                                                    --Cara Lynn Shultz

You've probably seen the following pixilated placard.  It has been posted in a variety of places recently.  I found it at Jokideo.

The term "grammar nerd," of course, is a soft-pedaling of the far more popular "grammar Nazi," which is a conscious escalation, by so-called adults, of the juvenile urge felt by the cool kids to actively diminish others in order to smoke-screen their own shortcomings.  There's a certain unintentional irony to the term: it shows an acuity for choosing words that convey a derogatory sentiment toward people who feel all words should be chosen more carefully.

For the record, I don't think the adverb "as" in #2 is needed.  Also, #7 doesn't apply to me.  That's how much a grammar Nazi I am: I correct the grammar of other grammar Nazis, and I don't need to follow a website to feed my addiction.  Beyond that, Your Honor, I am guilty as charged.

In fact, I can supply more evidence...

 1. Every time I hear the name of LSU's head football coach, Les Miles,
     I find myself muttering, "Fewer miles."

 2. If someone uses than when it should have been then, or vice versa,
     it makes me weep bitterly for half an hour.

 3. Not only do I have an opinion on the Oxford comma,
     it is far more nuanced than a simple yea or nay.

 4. With the proper motivation, I could prove conclusively that
     more than half the prepositions employed in an average day
     are unnecessary.

 5. I just used more than instead of over.

 6. I may be developing an ulcer due to the penchant
     of many a sports analyst for saying physicality.

 7. I support the formation of a federal commission to
     systematically remove all words ending in the suffix
     -wards from every dictionary.

 8. Not only do I know the difference between an adverb and an
     adjective, I know well is the former and good is the latter.

 9. With my right hand raised and my left resting on the Associated
     Press Stylebook and Libel Manual, I hereby pledge my willingness
     to join an armed insurrection to rescue the dash from usurpation
     by the hyphen.

10. I would do the same to defend an from the abuses of a.

11. I may knife the next person who states there's two or more.

12. And I tend to dislike sentences that begin with a conjunction.

Furthermore, Your Honor, I cannot understand the historian who can tell me Washington never chopped down the cherry tree, Doubleday never even played baseball, Jefferson was more likely to put the wood than the whip to his slaves, and the Emancipation Proclamation had more to do with winning the war than freeing a people, but is stymied when asked to separate myth from fact regarding there, their and they're.

I cannot understand the computer programmer who knows with hair-tearing intimacy that a single misplaced character in a single line of code can bring a whole routine to, a screeching halt but places their commas willy-nilly.  Similar things can be, said of mathematicians.

I cannot understand the filmmaker who can spot half an inch of circumcised boom-mic dipping into the upper-right border of the frame for two heartbeats, but doesn't know the difference between its and it's.

Most of all, I cannot understand any so-called writer who thinks his or her conversational style is anything but sloppy writing, lacking gravitas.  Congratulations, hack, your latest piece has a shelf-life of fourteen seconds.

P.S.... Bud "There's Several Months Yet, And There're Damage
          That Can Still Be Done" Selig must go.

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