Posts Tagged ‘grammar’

Because Happy Na’tl Grammmar Dai, I hates it.

March 4, 2010

My day just took a turn for the worse: I found out some hateful being has declared today “National Grammar Day.”

It’s not an especially effective declaration–I bet you have not appropriately celebrated that you are also in the grips of National Kidney Month, National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, National Crafts Month and National Nutrition Month combined. Still, it’s the sentiment, and  someone out there–you, the one who put in a blog that you can’t stand Dylan’s Lay Lady Lay or  the Rolling Stones’ Satisfaction because of their grammar errors–is listening to music incorrectly.

A grammar snob is like a hall monitor on a highway… no one asked him to exercise authority that was never given him, and he accomplishes squat. What he does is akin to publishing an art critique ignoring the art and focusing on the paintbrush the artist used.

If we want to correct our grammar we know where to go. Unrequested grammar correction is fueled by smug. Smug is what powered Eats, Shoots and Leaves up the charts. This particular brand of idiot savant smug appeals to our lower brain functions–the type that compel us to follow leaders and eat those weaker than us. I hates it.

I’ll have you know that I’ve been a mediocre semi-pro in the grammar leagues (pausing for  dramatic effect). Coach told me I had gumption but that I just didn’t have that killer instinct. Maybe I’ll try again (NOT), but when league play was done I left my starched-and-pressed jersey behind. You don’t see football players shit-talking about who knows NFL rules better and grammar is not that different.

I reject the idea that there is one correct form of English handed down from a higher power. When required, I follow AP grammar and punctuation style precisely. When appropriate, I follow other standardized styles with far different rules and requirements. And in between, I love grammar and punctuation chaos. I will admit this: “You must understand the ‘rules’ of grammar before you break them.” The NY Times blog said that today and I agree.

Finally, in this moment of agitation, and in the spirit of the festivities, I will admit two things. Don’t call them “peeves.” First, I can’t condone “was”/”were” misuse. One professor I had as an undergrad said Hemingway never got that one right (professor knew this because he worked at the KC Star not long after Papa left). Hemingway did alright. Second, there’s no real benefit in misusing “that” where “who” is proper. It jars my ears, that one.