Friday, March 26, 2010

Use Gooder Grammar

I am not going to say I am a perfect writer. Far from it. But I bet 95% of the time you can judge a person's success by looking at how she expresses herself in writing.

Seriously, I am tired of seeing atrocious grammatical mistakes to the point of not being able to understand the meaning. From people that should know better too, sometimes. I call this site "Grammar Prude" but don't think for a second that I am some sort of fanatic. If I were to start with some snotty Rules of Grammar book, I guess what I'd do is sort through it to pick the rules that are important and the ones that can be ignored and make my own book. The whole point is whether you can communicate effectively. So don't comb through my writing and say, "That's not even a full sentence", because I already know that and don't care. You understanded it!

I've had a lot of practice being a pain in the ass grammar jerk.  I married a foreigner back in 1997, and with her blessing, I  was to correct all of her grammatical mistakes to help her improve her English. It felt like I was finally getting even for all the times my parents corrected me. And it did help! You know..."Did you went to the store?" doesn't happen anymore. But after several years, those corrections got so annoying, turned to a fight, and now I only infrequently make any comment.

So get ready for some ranting and raving. I'll try to stay on topic and make things interesting. Let me know what you think.


Anonymous said...

found you by googling "grammar prude" because i'm looking for a better term than "grammar nazi".

here's the thing. imagine tens of thousands of years ago when humans only had a few words in their volcalbulary. in terms of evolution, it was very, very beneficial for them to be language prudes, in order to establish a stable language. they didn't know they were inventing the future; all they had was a built-in feeling of snobbishness about "proper" use of language.

fast-forward back to current times, when we still have the same genes and the built-in snobbishness, even tho our vocalbularies are a hundred times larger. we don't know WHY we feel snobbish/prudish about the language. we "just do". ask anyone why they feel that way, and you'll get a vague, emotionally-based answer. eg "i just HATE it when they don't follow the rules that EVERYONE should be aware of".

also note that the rule-breakers (eg ebonic speakers) aren't as rule-less as they seem. they have their own, strict grammar and pronunciation rules, and if you break them, you're not accepted into their group, either.

so i'm just saying, just as civilized humans have largely grown out of their natural tendencies to (eg) own slaves and dominate women, so too should we understand the human origin of our own, built-in language biases, and overcome them. i'm not saying go ahead and trash the language. i'm just sayin' understand where the emotional biases come from. and learn to adapt more, because these times are changing FAST. we need to invent (and agree on) more words for our increasingly-quickly advancing civilization.

(coincidentally i too was asked by my foreign wife to help her with correct english, but after several years she reached a point of "no more corrections". no fights tho.)

Rob said...

Thank you very much for your comment. Excellent analysis. I really have big plans for this blog, just need to dedicate some time.

Anonymous said...

well the latest commercial for a detergent I belive it was gain use gooder rather than better. You well have gooder morning when I heard it I coulndt belive it you would think somebody that writes copy for a nationally distibuted commercial would know better unbelieveable