Sunday, April 14, 2013

Lamentations of a Grammar Nazi


Grammar is knowing the difference between your shit and you're shit and who knows it better than Trisha's tortured soul ? To empathize with her  anguish, you are requested to leave grammatically challenged comments. 

Let the fun begin!


Courtesy - Google images


Do you remember the day you lost your first pet? When the project you worked so hard for fell into a puddle? Think of any time when the world seemed to be less wonderful, when the Gods themselves seemingly turned against you. Put yourself back in that moment. How did you feel? Crushed, morose, disappointed or even suicidal? Well now you feel a quarter, nay a tenth, of the pain any language purist feels. Welcome to our world, initiate.

Our days may seem to start like the rest of humanity’s, but underneath the coffee haze and bleary eyes, we are steeling ourselves. We look into the mirror, tell our reflection that all is not lost; that out ‘there’ people are not ruthlessly abusing and butchering our one true love; that things have gotten to the point where they cannot get worse. Yes, we say, we WILL have a positive outlook today!

But the real world is never gentle with my kindred. Forget those who aren’t English speakers (bless them). No, I’m talking about people who have the audacity to ask you to lend them your “stationary”. You thought they were your friends. You shared your deepest fears, your darkest secrets with them. To these...these traitors, I say, “My stationary what?” The day has barely begun for your average Grammar Nazi. When we want to watch a funny video, there are enlightened comments such as, “OMG!.....hez so awsum lol...I laf so hardddd!!!” When we check Facebook, someone posts a touching story along the lines of (bear with me, this is a long one. Oh, and it’s real)-

“bf n gf were siting at a table...dey were haeving a conversatein. da gurl sed 2 da boy “bbz will u luv me 4ever?”

boy said “NO....” girl was sad

she ran away n cryed

she triped over a CHAIR.

she was ded.

boy ran over to pic up her body

he wisperd in her ear “i meant to say...ill love you 5ever.”

dat meen he luv her moar dan 4ever.”


Don’t even get me started on the completely skewed morals in this poorly put-together babble (they most certainly are not words). The unnecessary ellipses (aka dot dot dot) in this paragraph, if converted into drops of water, are enough to supply a small village for a week. The shift/Caps Lock keys are clearly not working in this individual’s keyboard, and his/her PC seems to be infected by a deadly virus that converts “Th” to “d”. Oh, and what is “ded”? Is it a state of non-existence that is more permanent than death? You will NOT believe the amount of red on my screen as I write this.

Anyhow, I digress. My point is: where once bad grammar and spelling were restricted to our day-to-day interactions with a small group of individuals, social media and expanding telecommunications have made it an inescapable reality. The problem is not even education (or lack thereof) or social stratification. Many of these people come from good families; have been educated in the hallowed classrooms of the most reputed schools. It started with SMS language, but it’s no longer restricted to our mobile phones. It’s everywhere- even certain brands advertise using text message lingo. Many people are under the impression that it’s ‘cool’ (or cul/kool). While I by no means want everyone to speak in archaic Victorian English, all I ask is that you respect a language enough to not mutilate it. Cherish those poor abandoned commas, periods and colons. Stop abusing those exclamation marks, they need some rest. Don’t force together letters that do not belong with each other.

Language is music. A well-constructed sentence is heavenly sonata. A haphazard conglomeration of letters is like the sound you get when you run your nails over a blackboard, or like the sound of a face hitting the road after I have punched it.

Finally, I ask that you be more patient with us. Please don’t respond to our helpful corrections with “Your a bich, my grammer in fyn. Get a lyf.” For us, bad English is a physical and psychological discomfort. Our nightmares are haunted with lost apostrophes and errant ellipses. Our personal relationships are always at risk due to our neurotic auto-correct habits. For us, the only reprieve is the hope that we will find another who is as obsessed, as head-over-heels in love with grammar as we are, someone with whom we can grow old with (Grammar Granny and Grammar Grandpa, or two grandpas, or two grannies. Hey, love has no bounds) and a shoulder to cry on when a stranger tells us to “Plzz lyk dis page”. We are also human, albeit with a super-tuned sense of clear language. Also, please use spell-check. Thank you!

Viva la Grammaire!

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59 comments:

  1. It is the exactly same thing I could able to say. Xtrmly vel ritn.

    ReplyDelete
  2. True. But how much ever some of us rant, bad English is here to stay - making inroads not only into social media but printed literature as well.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sad and true. One point of contention- a lot of these books cannot really be called 'literature' :P

      Delete
  3. Purba,

    I adore you. And no, I didn't mean it 'that' way.

    I have lost count of the people who've told me to 'gt a lyf' because their grammar was 'fyn'.

    I am happy to report that I continue to be a thorn in their side. One doused in a little known Asiatic poison. It is just a question of time before your and my nightmares will be transferred to them- along with all abused exclamations, lost commas and mutilated spellings.

    I wait for that dawn. It is my only hope.

    *sob*

    Dagny

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Darling, this piece was written by Trisha Ray, my daughter :-)

      Delete
    2. Very nice written ...... :)

      Delete
    3. My bad..! I thought your daughter's name hyperlink would take me to her post and this was yours.

      And I didn't know she was your daughter either.

      Talent runs in the family, doesn't it? She has quite a taste for punching people so they make a repulsive sound when they hit the road.

      Atta Girl Trisha...

      Delete
    4. It's okay :)

      And thank you.

      Delete
  4. Another point of view:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J7E-aoXLZGY

    :-)

    ReplyDelete
  5. Oh! Hey! Even before the advent of SMS lingo we have had this problem. Many a times when one of my friend says stuffs like this my writings has gone wild :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. :)
      True, but technology has made such violations easier and more visible.

      Delete
  6. On the contrary, we might want to accept that this change is real. English, or any other language for that matter, never remained static. It always evolved.

    And if the Oxford dictionary additions are any evidence of how fast the English language is evolving, note that we've moved faster than ever in the past few decades.

    I also find it amazing that in India Prakrit and Sanskrit co-existed - the hoity-toity language of the well-read versus the banal atrocities spoken by the common man. Today's modern languages encompass both aspects, mangled into one well-salted mashed potato.

    Let's enjoy the language as we know it, till it lasts!

    (Well written! A Ray of Hope, maybe?)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have no objections to change but the problem is that English has become literally incomprehensible. It's also a matter of blatant misuse and misspelling. It's and its, their and they're.

      Delete
  7. I have seen people who studied in their regional languages speak better English than convent educated ones. I use a few sms language words, but I definitely say MY instead of MA which some people find extremely cool ! I really cant understand why !Completely agree with you..I really hope my son grows up to learn good English and used the commas and punctuation correctly and develops a passion for it, rather than raping the language this way !

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes! Good language skills are entirely a product of one's own efforts.

      Delete
  8. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Oh sweet Mother! I have someone who supports my cause! *glee*

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. One day soon, Grammar Nazis will form a global network more formidable than Anonymous.

      Delete
  10. Bang on Trisha. Text lingo is the worst nightmare for purists. Advertisers are using it to please the growing number of young adults. So no respite in the near future.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There will probably be a time when a sentence like "Ur prty ws so awsum..nyojed a lot...gr8 fn" becomes readable, but today is not that day.

      Delete
  11. "You thought they were your friends." This was so poignant!
    A friend of friend has listed Pity Usha as people who inspire.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Right? In fact, this betrayal of trust is what inspired me to write this.
      Maybe this is someone other than the track-and-field athlete? A social-worker maybe?

      Delete
    2. You're doing great, Trisha. Wish you all the best!

      Delete
  12. hahaha.......(some village has lost lots of water now:))
    i so much like what u say gurl...but why be a nazi no...this way v save so many alphabets..c?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We moved from incoherent grunts to the written and spoken word for a reason: clarity in communication. I swear, sometimes I cannot understand a word of what someone has typed out. SMS language should stay in text messages.

      Delete
  13. Thank God. I thought I was making a big fuss out of this SMS lingo. I absolutely hate it when people butcher the language that way.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Absolutely! Just as I was finally coming to terms with the gibberish text messages I was receiving, it escaped out into the internet!

      Delete
  14. I had to laugh at the bf-gf story because it not only conveyed your point, the plot was awful and the characters and their conversation inane. Kewl post, Trisha. Hope this doesn't make you grit your teeth but have to say it - chip of the old block.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete
    2. Thank you! As soon as I read that post in my Facebook feed, I knew that English had officially gone to the dogs.
      Haha, you're not the first person to say that. I, however, like to think of myself as an independent block.

      Delete
  15. Checking FB profiles of prospective grooms for spelling mistakes/grammatical errors is an integral part of my life partner search.. Am I crazy? No! I just can't stand it :D

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Not crazy. Like I said, for us Grammar Activists, our soul-mate must understand our pain.

      Delete
  16. Trisha, absolutely bang on! SMS lingo seems to be killing English alright! And even otherwise, we have a lot of people, even "accomplished" bloggers and writers not knowing the difference between its and it's, the starting point of most sentences. And then comes the ever annoying use of apostrophe for plurals. Seriously where did they learn their English from? I have loads of rants; I can go on and on :). And have written posts and status updates on the great grammar skills of people.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The sad thing is that people (even your friends) don't always take our kind interventions well. At some point, you can only give up and let them call someone's terrible handwriting 'eligible'.

      Delete
  17. So the young Ms Trisha Ray now taking charge of the Light Brigade with cannons let loose from all ends, volleying and thundering! A very nice read! To add insult to injury is the 'Auto Correct' feature which not only distorts personal credentials but the entire meaning if not reviewed:)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "From all ends" Uhmmmmm o_O
      Ah Auto Correct, and its equally evil twin Swype: turning innocent statements into morally questionable ones since 2005/2010.

      Delete
  18. Well done Trisha. I hate the sms language of short hand or short mind, if I may say so.

    ReplyDelete
  19. If that isn't one great read. One cannot unfriend the nail-grate of poor grammar as it parkours along the slider of linguistic evolution. Much that we accept as "correct" was but poor grammar at some point in time, innit? Think Marquez and Rushdie writing a century back. Or of the trials of Joyce in his own time trying to create a new vocab and syntax. Fosho the new generation has sufficient wisdom and resilience to go beyond "luking gud," and use the inherent plasticity of language to keep it vibrant and alive. Pimping coolness by adopting distorted or sloppy language is different from trying to create something new. There is a crisis of poor language everywhere, not just soc media, but then none of us were born without our mothers crying out to the heavens, no?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Fair enough. Yes, language is dynamic. Yes, it is meant to evolve. However, contemporary (mis)use of language is a leap back rather than a step forward. Rules of sentence construction, grammar and punctuation built over millennia are being ignored/abused. The purpose of language is communication- if clarity is lost, communication fails.
      What's happening now is not a revolution.

      Delete
  20. Great post Trisha-after all you are HER daughter.
    Count me in your Nazi Brigade.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, yes :D
      Absolutely! But first, you must pass the test.

      Delete
  21. Sms lingo is actually a riddle to me. I need to spend a considerable amount of time trying to figure out what it actually means :) I had read somewhere that a university in UK is considering letting the students answer tests in SMS language!

    Very well written Trisha :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I empathise :(
      Well, the world is slowly reaching the point of no return. At that point, the Grammar Nazis must prepare for persecution (if they remember how to spell it *wicked grin*).

      Delete
  22. Hahaha....that was hilarious. The grammar is strong with you, young Raywalker :D
    P.S. And that story is beautiful. If you ignore the spellings and grammar part, it has such a deep meaning. It made me cry.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Snow :)
      Indeed. It does explore such deep concepts as being 'ded' and '5ever' (maybe a reference to love across dimensions).

      Delete
  23. Thank God...at least somebody else feels the same way as I do. Whenever I come across writers who can't get the usage of articles right, I feel like kicking them out on their asses. I seriously don't get it how can you be a writer when you don't know proper grammar? I am still trying to find an answer to that.

    ReplyDelete
  24. SMS lingo drives me crazy. It reminds me of Idiocracy and I start shivering in fear.
    The fact that I have a sister who excels in SMS lingo doubles the fear.

    ReplyDelete
  25. awsum post....butt kneads sum spel chek

    ReplyDelete
  26. Brilliant. Thanks for this one. Been pasting the link to this post on walls of all those people I know who try to appear Kewl by writing lyk dis... And that's almost everyone :/.

    ReplyDelete
  27. I completely empathise. Next time you want to cry over someone's bad grammar, I will lend you my shoulder:) SMS language gets on my nerves too.

    I have written on the same topic in my blog. Do read it when you get the time.Here is the link : http://amheretowrite.blogspot.in/2012/07/the-dawn-of-contemporary-english.html

    Glad to have found a fellow Grammar Nazi :) Nice blog you have here. Keep writing!

    ReplyDelete
  28. So now I know am not the "only" crazy one around correcting everyone's grammar.
    Praise the Heavens!

    ReplyDelete
  29. I am learning grammar these days and your post is helpful to me to move forward. I hope this comment is grammatically correct ;)

    ReplyDelete

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