My friends all know that I am what most people refer to as a “grammar freak.” I have been known to point out glaring errors in word use and spelling, as well as many other common grammatical mistakes. There is just something about others abusing the English language that bothers me, and I sometimes find it is my duty to try to end the suffering.
Before I begin my rant, I just want to be very clear that I understand everyone makes mistakes that cannot be avoided when writing. I am referring to people who will repeatedly make these mistakes with no hint of remorse.
My obsession is not one that brings me a whole lot of sympathy, except from other “grammar Nazis.” Most of my friends scoff when I point out that they actually drank “a lot of beer last night,” not “alot of beer.” Some are downright hostile towards my gentle reminders, responding with texts like, “your stupid.” These are always fun to respond to with either “My stupid what?” or my personal favourite, “Well, you’re illiterate.”
My roommate and I like to argue over the importance of proper spelling and grammar. He likes to assert that grammar and spelling do not matter, as long as meaning is transmitted. I like to assert that spelling and grammar are essential to transmitting understanding. For example, with the wrong use of grammar, “Let’s eat, Grandma,” turns into “Let’s eat Grandma!”
And although I can eventually understand what he says when he types “Hay, ur a grammer freek n i think that ur tayking inglish 2 seereeossly,” it might take me a few seconds to catch on – precious seconds I could be using to come up with a clever response, like “Your mom is taking English too seriously.”
Something else that really bothers me, beyond regular spelling mistakes, are marketing campaigns directed towards children that spell words improperly. I will readily admit that I do not understand what they are trying to do.
Slogans like “Hey kids! Stay in skool cuz it’s wicked kewl!” seem to defeat the purpose of school (namely, at least learning how to spell “school” correctly). It is true that the person spelling “school” improperly is probably not uneducated, but they now appear to be, and that will hurt them in the long run when they submit résumés touting their ability to “werk gud.”
It is not like spelling is that terribly difficult. Nowadays, with our fancy, newfangled computing devices, a spelling and grammar check is practically done for us. Of course, sometimes they do not eliminate misused words; like “hear” substituting for “here” or “whether” for “weather.”
But the newest versions of Microsoft Word even account for that. For example, a blue line appears under the misused word “whether” in the following sentence: “The whether is bad today.”
Clearly, there is less excuse than ever for making these kinds of mistakes.
Another annoying feature of the modern world is the desire to have businesses with nice alliterative titles. It is true – having a business like “Country Craft Corner” is catchy and sounds nice … Until you decide to be cute and change the spelling to “Kountry Kraft Korner” and instead of happy crafters coming to buy things you get angry letters and lawyers.
Or when you decide to start a convenience store called “Come n’ Go.” It’s a nice name. It’s descriptive, it’s catchy, and there is no need to shorten it. But someone, somewhere, will think that perhaps it should be called “Kum n’ Go,” – maybe because most people cannot seem to comprehend words longer than three letters. Now you have turned a regular convenience store into a slightly creepy and almost gross place. (By the way, this is a totally legitimate store in the United States. Look it up.)
Another annoying ploy is to shorten words with the “ght” ending so that they end in just “te.” For example, “Lite up the Nite!” obviously means “Light up the Night!” but why was it necessary to change the words “light” and “night?” They were already spelled with identical endings anyway.
As for so-called “text-speak,” I am not even going to go near that open Pandora’s Box.
I know this article is going to incite a lot of anger among people who cannot be bothered to learn the rules of grammar or the fine art of spelling, but I am not too worried. I wholeheartedly encourage anyone who wishes to disagree with me to write a piece for the Carillon and submit it, or write a clever declass in which no word is spelled properly but everyone can still understand it.
Please refrain from calling me “stoopid” or “meen,” though. I do not think the grammar freak in me could bear to read that.