Wednesday, March 5, 2008

It's National Grammar Day!

Because I am a writer and editor, several coworkers and acquaintances have alerted me to the fact that today is National Grammar Day.

Imagine my delight! A whole day devoted to picking on people's grammatical and spelling foibles!

Okay, okay. I get that it's sort of all in fun, and, sure, I make fun of some of the grammatical errors I see in the wild. But, and here's the important part, not to the faces of the people who made them.

It's not really "celebrating good grammar" that bugs me, and if this holiday can result in editors getting presents, I'm all for that. This is what I object to:
If you see a sign with a catastrophic apostrophe, send a kind note to the
storekeeper. If your local newscaster says "Between you and I," set him straight
with a friendly e-mail.

That's not a celebration of good grammar; it's a celebration of bad manners. I mean, it's sort of what I do for a living, except I'm doing it for professional writers who are well aware of the standards they need to follow, and who also understand that it's impossible to be perfectly precise, consistent, and accurate without that "second pair of eyes." They get that it's not personal (well, most of them do). They also have a set of published guidelines reflecting industry-standard usage. Nonetheless, sometimes when they speak off the cuff, they say things like "between you and I" or "I don't feel good," or "Fuck this bullshit," though that's not technically incorrect. My point is, you wouldn't find it in one of their manuals.

Guess what? I do that too. And I write conversationally in places like this blog. And I've noticed people think I sound friendlier when I say "I'm good," rather than "I'm well" in response to "How are you?"

And I haven't even gotten to things like regionalisms, colloquialisms, dialects, accents, and lolcats. All of which I totally love. Did you understand that? Because it wasn't grammatically correct.

Which brings me to this from the National Grammar Day site:
If we don't respect and honor the rules of English, we lose our ability to
communicate clearly and well. In short, we invite mayhem, misery, madness, and
inevitably even more bad things that start with letters other than M.

This is simply retarded.

Other than a very new English speaker, who doesn't understand that a pet store sign reading "Cat's: 50% Off!" means there's a sale on cats? Or that the newscaster who said "Between you and I" means -- well, to be honest, I have no idea what that means, since newscasters talk to huge audiences, and so can't really keep secrets. So maybe that was just a bad example. Should I send a "friendly" e-mail to the National Grammar Day people pointing out their huge fucking mistake?

Speaking of which, again from the site:
Seriously—sort of.

Not a grammatically correct construction, people. So, I guess I must not be able to understand it.

So, I'll just go back to picking the nits I'm paid to pick, and not obsessing over misspellings on Italian menus or worrying about how many people pronounce err as "air" instead of "er" (betcha didn't know that one -- thanks, Mr. High School English teacher for that unnecessary little bugaboo), or whatever the newest thing is that's Killing the English Language.

In the meantime, I am grateful for all the coworkers who sent me and the other editor pats on the back about the job we do for them. And I promise, I am not really that uptight about this, and now that I've ranted, I can go back to remembering it's all in fun. 'Cuz I totalleh lurves teh lnguaj.

This post is especially for phibetakitten, who LOVES SHIT LIKE THIS. In case you can't tell, I'm being sarcastic.

1 comment:

Karen said...

"That's not a celebration of good grammar; it's a celebration of bad manners."

Oh, how I love you.

By the way, because of that same high school English teacher I actually avoid saying "err" out loud at all. As a Professional Linguist I would (and do) argue that the pronunciation "air" has been correct for ages now. However, because of Mr. Grove I can't bring myself to say it that way, seeing as it makes my head explode. So, instead I'll say, e.g., "To fuck up is human; to forgive, divine." Or some such.