Skip to main content

I must plead guilty.  And offer the court my most sincere commitment to repentance and recovery.

I won't go into what drives someone like me to become a Grammar Policeperson.  If I'm honest, it's a part of me I don't like to acknowledge, let alone examine.  (Wow, that's very shallow of me.  Why, yes, yes it is.  Perhaps Grammar Policism comes from that same shallow end of my intellect pool.  Policing grammar IS so much easier than focusing on content.)

Rather, I'd like to list of of the reasons that I have tried to (and mostly succeeded at) curb the urge to point out flaws.  As part of my recovery, I've even been known to let my own writing slide upon proofreading.

On to the reasons I've given up Grammar Policing for fun and profit:

Context, convention and circumstance are all.
~ Stephen Fry (see below)
1 - It's the ideas that are important.  The whole purpose of communicating is to communicate.  NOT to pass some test of rules.  As stated above, I realized that focusing on grammar was the shallow end of the pool and I fancy myself a deep end kinda guy.

2 - On the internet, you don't know if for the person you are berating English is a second, third, or forth language.  If I were to make a comment on a French site, it would be because I thought I had something to contribute to the conversation.  NOT because I hope someone will correct my French.  (Which, let's face it, could not get more appalling.)

3 - It's lonely being the Grammar Police.  Nobody respects you or realizes the critical job you are doing keeping the internet properly punctuated.

That's it really.  And, while the first days of recovery were difficult, the days since have been much more peaceful and datafull (rather than rulefull).

As fate would have it, Stephen Fry has said it better than I ever could.  (Part of me wants to say that it's the accent that makes him sound so smart.  But the more I learn of him, the fact is that he is much smarter than I as well as much more eloquent.)

Some highlights:

Sadly, desperately sadly, the only people who seem to bother with language in public today bother with it in quite the wrong way.

They write letters to broadcasters and newspapers in which they are rude and haughty about other people's usage and in which they show off their own superior "knowledge" of how language should be.

I hate that.

It hurts that Mr. Fry hates that part of me.  But, I too, have become uncomfortable with my former self.

Speaking of the Grammar Police, Mr. Fry asks:

Do they ever yoke impossible words together for the sound-sex of it?  Do they use language to seduce, charm, excite, please, affirm, and tickle those they talk to?

Do they?

I doubt it.

They're too farting busy sneering at a greengrocer's less than perfect use of the apostrophe.

They are no more guardians of language than the kennel club is the guardian of dogkind.
No.  No, the claim to be defending language for the sake of clarity almost never, ever holds water.
There is no right language or wrong language any more than there are right or wrong clothes.

Context, convention and circumstance are all.

Is there a 12-step program somewhere that can help others similarly afflicted?

EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags

?

More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site