I speak for my fellows: it's hard work being a grammarian.
We are constantly cringing, wincing and clutching our dictionaries to our chests. We battle dueling forces: the urge to blurt out a correction or the willpower to just keep quiet.
We talk Strunk and White; we quote from the scripture of Eats, Shoots and Leaves. We get emails from co-workers who should know the difference between there, their and they're; we can't take seriously a superior's remark that a situation is "unexceptable." (Wouldn't this necessarily mean that there is nothing to which she can take exception?) We vote for the candidate with the best grammar; we cannot, in good conscience, support someone who says "irregardless".
We are an ungrateful lot. We have a hard time accepting a thank you note that reads, "Your awesome!" By the same reasoning, we refuse to be offended by graffiti that reads, "Your a bitch." Not us, no; we are merely grammarians.
We stand tongue-tied when a colleague asks us to "pronunciate" a word; later, a student asks, "Does spelling count?" and we are baffled. Of course it counts. Can there possibly be a situation in the entire course of human history in which spelling has not counted?
We are often moody, wary, loathe to get involved. Who, anymore, wants a grammarian for a friend? We turn the same critical eye inward, flogging ourselves for typos in emails, offering extra credit for students who find our mistakes. We have a creed: Proofread twice, print once.
Stopped at a red light, we laugh at the message on a license plate holder with a grammatical error; isn't that akin to a misspelled tattoo? The driver, who possibly failed grade-school Language Arts, who likely has not read any good panda jokes, flips us an angry gesture. We stop chuckling, suitably warned.
Correcting the wrong person's grammar may well get us killed.
2 years ago