Grammar Nazi (a rant)
I want to know when proper English became too much of a bother. Because that’s what it seems to be: a bother.
My son’s teachers (K-3) didn’t bother to teach him proper spelling. They used phonetics. "That's how everyone does it," they told me, sneering when I objected.
At home, I tutored him on proper spelling, running him through spelling drills and dictionary usage. He complained, but he spells better than anyone in his class. I see it as a long, downward slide -- when I was in elementary school, they did teach my classmates and I how to spell correctly. They did not, however, bother to cover the proper use and rules of grammar – that was for my mother’s generation, apparently.
On the internet, people don’t bother to edit their forum posting, comments, or blog posts for proper grammar and spelling, or even consistency. It’s not just the internet, though – the systematic degradation of the English language is everywhere, pervasive and non-stop. It’s in texting, twittering, blogging, e-mails, forums and even elementary schools . . . on and on and on. In fact, poorly written English has become so common and accepted that those people who do try and correct at least a few of the billions of mistakes are called a “grammar nazi.”
That’s nice. To equate somebody who cares about writing well with one of the most depraved, despicable political movements of all time. Murdering 6 billion people is totally equivalent to caring about clear communication. It’s almost become uncool to be able to read and write properly, with skill and confidence. This is the Age of Technology, after all – we only need numbers and coding to proceed from here.
One glaring example of where American priorities lie is in the contrast of the Scripps National Spelling Bee and the LG Texting Competition. In 2008, the grand prize winner of the Scripps Spelling Bee won $35,000 in cash and $5,000 in prizes – a total of $40,000. That same year, the grand prize winner of the LG Texting Competition won $50,000.
The general attitude towards the correct usage of our language baffles me. People brush off misspelled words as no big deal – understandable if it’s one or two in a paragraph, but it’s more often one or two in a sentence. They excuse their poor writing skills on the internet and in their private writings with a, “Not a big deal – it’s not for a grade or anything,” type of mindset.
But it is a big deal, and it saddens me that it’s become almost rude to point out somebody’s lack of proper punctuation, grammar and spelling. It saddens me that so many people don’t seem to realize that their writing skills are not just a minor setback, a silly quirk of their personality.
How well a person can write equates to how well their written communication skills are. How can anyone expect to run a successful business, to be a teacher, to work in any sort of decent, well-paid position and actually succeed and advance if they can’t grasp the basics of the language they were raised with?
How do people expect to impress future employers and colleagues when they’ve littered their murder of the English language all over the internet? How do they expect to make a good impression on people of importance if they can’t even write a formal e-mail in proper letter format, with an appropriate salutation, body and closing? How many even know that there is a difference between a formal e-mail and a casual one?
In moving the majority of our communications to the written word, you would think we as a society would grasp the importance of consistence in spelling and grammar. Such consistency is a necessity for written communication -- it's obvious in the difference between "neigh" and "nay"; "reign and "rein"; "prostate" and "prostrate"; and "semantics" and "semitic". There is a reason we first began compiling language into dictionaries with specified, approved spellings and meanings, and it's not because we as a species are anal-retentive OCD nerds. It's because when using the written word for communication, clarity and consistency is important.
This abbreviation means "too long; didn't read." It's becoming common on comment-based forums, blogs, and websites. It was originally, I believe, popularized on reddit. If someone voluntarily appends a comment or post with "tl;dr" and a brief summary of their comment/ post, I see no issue with that.
It's the other trend with tl;dr that's bothering me -- when someone responds to a comment or post they deem too long with the abbreviation td;dr. It's just so incredibly rude and unnecessary. When a comment or post is responded to with a comment that simply says, "TL;DR," I find it so idiotic that my only reaction is:
Are you serious? Have we really reached a point in our society where people are complaining about half a page of text as too long, didn't read? I mean, if you don't want to read it, fine, whatever. There are times when I find myself skimming because I'm just eye-tired and exhausted. But is the snarky little "tl;dr" really necessary? If you can't handle long comments, why are you perusing a predominantly text-based site? Are we honestly reducing ourselves to a 140-character blurb society?
In short, if you can't be bothered to read something, don't bother to respond. If you can't handle reading long walls of text, don't peruse text-based sites.