Archive for February, 2009

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The Linguists

February 21, 2009

I must remember that I need to see The Linguists when it airs on PBS this Thursday (2/26). David Harrison was my Phonetics/Phonology professor back my Junior year of college so I should really do it just for that, but also because it sounds Interesting.

If I can manage to remember to watch it, I will try to post a review here.

(I should go dig out my VCR and actually record it, but it’s a pain in the ass to hook up in my current setup and I don’t think I have tapes anyway).

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Actually, shouldn’t it be called being a Grammar Fascist anyway?

February 3, 2009

So courtesy of Fark, I was pointed to this MSNBC article: Is stress pushing spelling snobs over edge?

(I just noticed as I was typing the title that the headline of the article seems to be missing a ‘the’.)

The article starts off with

Some people avoid Krispy Kreme because of the calories. Angela Nickerson won’t go there because of the Ks.


When you deprive yourself of the tastiest donuts on the planet because you don’t like how they had to spell a trademark qualifying name, you need to start reevaluating how far your Grammar Naziism has gone. It’s much harder to keep a unique trademark when you use words exactly as they appear in the dictionary, which is why there are other Junk Food offenders (Tastykake comes to mind as a Philadelphia resident) and failing to realize that just makes you look beyond pedantic.

The article goes on to suggest that being in these high stress times triggers this kind of fastidious grammar correction. Why not then also write an article about how stressful economic times increases OCD triggered house cleaning? Obsessive behavior is obsessive behavior, but if you have OCD, you’re sick whereas if you’re a Grammar Nazi, you’re just a bitch and therefore less guilt-inducing to write about.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind some people mentioned in the article. For instance, I also have an issue with the inappropriate use of quotation marks to indicate emphasis. Mostly it’s because I find it hilarious. I’ve been in stores claiming Our Bathrooms Are “Clean”, or asking me to Try Our “Fresh” Sandwiches. I don’t think this is so much an issue with grammatical rules as it is a failure to understand what quotations indicate when you’re not directly quoting someone. I find it particularly silly when the signs are typed, as it is not hard to turn words into italics, but for the handwritten ones – is it that hard to underline the word? Or in internet chat rooms, to use all caps for the emphatic words or to bracket them with something like asterisks?

If someone is just concerned about the state of grammar education in these modern times, then they pick their battles based on the idea that we must make sure people know how to communicate directly. To constantly berate and belittle based on grammatical ideals created based on the idea that English should be like Latin only makes it that much harder for the truly necessary corrections to be embraced.