Posts Tagged ‘spelling’

Grammar, Punctuation and Spelling

09 Feb

So today, at the Today website, a new article was published about the wacky world of grammar snobs. Entitled, “Fastidious spelling snobs pushed over the edge,” this quirky little story takes a peek into the world of those who love, love, love to correct the grammar.

The argument of the story is that although bad punctuation has plagued city signs and menus around the country for decades, the stress of war and economy have made folks a little snappy with the spelling corrections.

Although a fun read, I’ve got to disagree on the timing here. Grammar snobs, vigilantes, habitual correctors, what have you, have been around for as long as words and sentences have been written.

The idea that stress equals a rise in public tongue lashings on grammar to help the grammarian feel more in control is ridiculous. Why are there not reports about stress leading to cleaner bathrooms throughout America? More spontaneous creative graffiti on building walls? A rise in chocolate sales?

The truth is there are two camps in the grammar world: Those that are literally exposed to it on a regular basis due to career—such teachers, those in publishing, media or public office—and those who are not.

The new specialized unit of grammar police could simply be a case of the non-exposed running into and around with the fully exposed crowd. Aka: the Internet, excessive blogging, etc.

The truth is, those of us in the exposed grammar crowd are much harsher on one another than on the general population. The razor-sharp tongues of those inside publishing houses over a missed grammar correction, well, would make a layman blush. Or just really, really angry.

It’s been a habit of mine to argue on the side of the error-makers. Yes, part of the job is no visible “mistakes,” once that book/magazine/paper has gone to print. But it isn’t rocket science. Nobody died because there was a misplaced modifier in a sentence. Most of the rules are up for debate anyway. Just look at the serial comma.

On the other side of the coin, in the non-exposed grammar world, a little gentle chiding from the grammar elite is to be expected. In the way musicians poke fun at boy bands, or historians critique every epic war movie ever made. Heck, I still cringe when I think about the little Oklahoma establishment of Boswell Animal Kare, an establishment, I am almost certain, was the only vet in Boswell. Good times.

But the Today article sites people who likely would have climbed up that twenty-foot vet sign with a can a spray paint and a stencil for the letter “C.” I mean, cringing at an “overuse” of “quotation marks” for example, is one thing. Defacing public property to correct an error on a storefront sign or on a diner menu, however, is just… bizarre.

My advice, the next time the urge strikes to correct a flyer, or you notice a mistake in a local newsletter, hang back. Instead, pick up the phone and ask the organization if they could use a copyeditor. After all, extra cash in these hard economic times could be a stress reliever.