The Curse of the Grammar Nazi
"Her language is too good,
Which clearly indicates that she is foreign;
Whereas others are instructed in their native language
English people aren't."
--Professor Henry Higgins
In the days when the literary type was a much smaller species, when books were fewer and less read, the Grammar Nazi was an unknown phenomenon. Simply put, they were unneeded because all who undertook to put pen to paper were educated in the necessary rules and regulations of their respective languages. Though some of the principles instilled in the educated of those days are decidedly archaic, but the truth is that they, for the most part, knew what they were doing.
Not so for the populace of today. It is a wonderful thing that most people living in Western Civilization can read, but the writing? With all of the technical advancements of our world, anyone and everyone is a potential author, splashing thoughts of both depth and triviality everywhere on their virtual life. Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace are all guilty of accessory to the crime of murdering language, with their participants heedlessly committing the awful sin. These forms of social media, along with texting and casual emailing, created the Grammar Nazi. They live among us, appearing to be like every other human being until a friend Facebook writes "u r soooo keeeewwwlll" on their wall, and their response leaves them a few points down on the "kewl" scale.
I myself am such a one who lives in secret agony over the tweets, texts, and posts that completely eschew all structure in spelling, grammar, and vocabulary. But there is a good reason for that-- it is a genetic oddity within my family. At least I assume as much since at least two of my siblings have the same tendencies. Our mutual friends and followers live in constant fear of our online lurkings, and they never know when we will strike.
Here are a few things that any grammarian would call someone on. Beware and be aware of them, and your effectiveness in your typed communications may vastly improve.
Misuse of Homophones
They're, There, Their: When you are speaking of your friends, and "they're" doing something, don't call them a location like "there." Doesn't that seem a bit callous of you? And whatever you do, don't turn them into a possessive like "their."
Err, Air: You don't air on the side of caution, and you don't breathe err. At least I hope you don't. If so, you have my pity.
Read, Red: In the first word the vowel combination is short. One is a color, the other is an activity. You can guess which is which.
Affect, Effect: If you wish to affect something, you are hoping to change it. Hopefully the effect of your efforts will be satisfactory
Beau, Bow: Maybe your beau will teach you how to shoot a bow. If he's anything like Robin Hood, that is. Which would be really quite exciting.
To, Too, Two: Two should be obvious. It's a number, and therefore should be safe from misuse. But such is not the case. Too many times I have seen it abused, and this too grieves the soul of any English student who stumbles across it.
Close, Clothes: To change your clothes, please close the door. Enough said.
Does, Doze: What one does with one's day is up to you. You may doze if you like, but please stop messing up words.
Prays, Praise: Both are acts of reverent devotion, but denote very different things. See the Holy Scriptures for differentiation.
Really? Really? Why must we muddle our spellings so, and on purpose? Unlike Mark Twain, who had no regard for a man who could only spell a word one way, the misspelled word is a bane to the soul of the Grammar Nazi.
Kewl: "Cool" is bad enough. "Kewl" is heaping insult upon injury.
Pleaz: If you wish to be polite, please respect the word too. If you wish to be sarcastic, don't use polite words to do it.
Oooohhhh...: We're happy you're so excited about life. But please, articulate it more concisely for us. Random exclamations tell us very little.
Kum: Come now. Don't speak like a hick!
The Forgotten Apostrophe
Heaven forbid it. You have just altered the entire meaning of your word, sentence, paragraph, and existence.
I'll becomes Ill: Are you making a promise or becoming sick?
Can't becomes Cant: Your inability becomes meaningless ranting. You can't let that happen.
It's becomes Its: Rather than making a statement of fact, you just obliterated all meaning from you thought. Edits are necessary.
I'm becomes Im: You were saying something about yourself. Now you're instant messaging?
You're becomes Your: "You are" equates to "you're." The choice is yours, but it should be obvious.
The Mangled Sentence
Language separates humans from the animals. It allows us to clearly and concisely convey our thoughts in an organized fashion. Why must that system of organization be decimated at every turn?
The Run-on Sentence: A sentence is meant to convey one thought, perhaps with nuances and additional comments, but it should be reserved for thoughts along the same general vein, and ended before three pages are over. I speak in hyperbole, of course. But honestly, saying "I had a good day I bought some sneakers and now I'm tired from shopping and I want to go to bed and I don't care if this sentence is annoying" is nothing but that-- annoying
The Sentence Fragment: I don't care if Hemingway used brevity for effect (see section on homophones). Brevity does not equate chopped up bits of thought, nor effectiveness a random splattering of periods.
These are simple ways to make your writing better. And betterment is a good thing, because it doesn't just touch the area of your life that it's immediately related to you. It disciplines your mind, sharpens your wit, and makes you a more well-rounded person. So bone up on the grammar, and join the ranks of those who are ready to change the world, one word at a time.
"By words we learn thoughts, and by thoughts we learn life."
Jean Baptiste Girard
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