Tuesday, August 25, 2009

So what’s worse: having poor grammar or being anally retentive about English?

Having just been labeled a grammar queen, and hating it, I promise I will try my best to make a conscious effort not to volunteer grammatical advice to anyone unless solicited. I admit I find it hard to not correct EVERYTHING that I see that is grammatically incorrect, right down to the innocuous whiteboard outside the kindergarten, and I struggle to contain my annoyance. I also have to admit that I commit the occasional grammatical error, especially during times when my brain is thinking up the words much faster than my fingers can type. I generally love the accuracy that comes with reading a text that is beautifully composed, corrected and edited, but in some small way I will also try to understand that being too anal about text may be very annoying.

My new rule is: if I can understand it, then I will take a deep breath and it will be just fine. And if it’s written by someone whose first language isn’t English, then it’s okay to an extent.

Can I live with that, though? I don't know.

I'm sure that people who say they hate poor English have, on many occasions in their lives, misspelled something, or mixed up plurals and singulars, or mixed up who and whom. Although horrible English can be annoying, perhaps being anal about it can be annoying too. When you’re in a hurry or you’re flustered or excited, typing (or speaking) can be carried out carelessly. I appreciate that.

As someone who grew up with English as a second language, I do sometimes question what right I have to sanctimoniously correct those who speak English as their only language.

On an end note, I’ll also say that purposeful stupidity is annoying and asking me to be less retentive about this might be a step too far. fndng shrtcts t evry wrd s stpd. l33t language (that’s pronounced LEET, and it’s the sort of language used in text messages, fora - or forums if you prefer, some Facebook comments, and some blog boards) is just difficult for me to read.

It’s true that when text is perfect, and it reads well, it’s gratifying, but when I do encounter the written word that is imperfect, should it really affect me?

I don’t like anal people in general. They must be unhappy. The fact that I'm not unhappy makes me question whether I in fact have the problem, but I promise I will try to moderate my reactions in the interests of world harmony.

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