Soapbox Sound Off-The Grammar Police

“There are people who embrace the Oxford comma and those that don’t, and I’ll just say this: never get between these people when drink has been taken.”–Lynn Truss

 Unsolicited corrections of others writing is not a helpful thing. I am happy that I have not experienced it very much. But this came home to me when I read another blogger apologizing for his grammar mistakes. He went on to say something like he was learning and to cut him some slack. I interpreted this as telling the grammar police, to back off ,in a nice way. Another blogger referred to these critics as “Grammar Nazis.” I believe it is a type of trolling.

Even though I have not been “corrected” often, I did find the experience caused me to hesitate when writing and wonder if I was making mistakes.

This is wrong. We are not writing essays for an English class. If we are going to be published in a magazine, newspaper or book the editors can advise us.

I have a blogging friend who is a grammar expert and writes a blog criticizing grammar mistakes in well-known publications. I did say to her once, that I felt I could be making grammar mistakes and, as she was one of my readers, was a bit self-conscious. She said I did not have a staff of editors like a big newspaper and therefore should not worry. I hope she meant that in a good way. Not that I was making tons of mistakes but, after all,  I do not have an editor.  🙂  She has liked my writing.

Blogging lends itself to a stream of consciousness style of writing. If I am truly writing that way, I am probably making errors. Sometimes I catch them and sometimes I don’t. And sometimes I don’t realize I am making them. If my writing is truly unclear, the reader can ask for clarification.

I read that Jack Kerouac did not use periods, wrote on a long scroll, and did not edit himself. I have read a few quotes from his writing and feel, if I could write as good as he did, I would feel fine about leaving out a few periods

Blogging can be a format for experimentation and play. Bloggers are creating something out of their unique perspectives and engaged in exploration. I don’t think they should be held back and made self-conscious by having their grammar mistakes pointed out on their blogs.  

I did a bit of experimentation myself with this verse:

To the Nitpickers

So parsimonious,

sanctimonious,

They claim your grammar is erroneous,

Though they  claim to be  platonic,

Their effect on you is so kryptonic,

When they say your writing is synonymous,

with everything that is cryptonymous,

In reality their critiques are very pompous,

And it sticks in my esophagus,

Piddly, diddly,

Picayune

And

Small potatoes

And one more thing by College Humor on You Tube:

 

|JusJoJan|

JJJ 2015

 

 

63 thoughts on “Soapbox Sound Off-The Grammar Police

  1. Hariod Brawn

    I must say that I find sloppily written blog pieces a big turn off Deborah. It really has to be exceptional content for me to persist with a piece that’s littered with typos, poor sentence construction and an absence of good punctuation – and that is a rare event indeed!

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply
      1. Hariod Brawn

        A few; if someone truly speaks from the heart on something that’s important to them. Then there are the odd very creative or amusing ones. With so many well-written blogs – like this one – why waste time on the poorly written ones?

        Liked by 2 people

  2. Kat

    I try to write grammatically correct…. and I’m sure I make mistakes. While I might notice if someone has made mistakes, I would never correct someone- it’s that person’s own writing and in many cases, I suspect that like me, the error just slipped past them. I agree with the point that you make about our blogs being our own to experiment with. (Ahhh ending with a preposition!) I do think that’s where that little “follow” button comes into play. If you can’t look past a person’s writing style (or lack thereof) then you can always unfollow them, right?

    Liked by 1 person

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  3. luciledegodoy

    I have witnessed corrections a few times and one you may remember.
    No one has yet corrected me and I know I make mistakes. I was surprised I didn’t get any yet, as I’m not an English native speaker.
    If I get one I won’t mind to learn something new.
    However, I totally agree with you.
    We are not taking about sloppy and careless writing, but a grammatical error, like for example the Oxford comma.
    These people are not reading with interest in learning something new and getting the meaning of the post. Instead they are still working as grammar police officers.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
  4. Dan Antion

    I try, although grammar isn’t a strength of mine. My wife reads most everything I post but sometimes I forget to make the changes and sometimes she misses something. You’re right, I’m not being graded on grammar. Neither am I writing a manual for open heart surgery. I want to be correct but I’ll settle for writing something prople enjoy reading. I will never criticize a person’s grammar unless they are new to English and ask me for help.

    Liked by 1 person

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  5. Doobster418

    First of all, I loved that video clip. It was great.

    Second, I am somewhat of a Grammar Nazi, although I seldom bother to correct another blogger’s grammar. But like Hariod, I feel poor sentence structure, poor word choice, misuse of apostrophes (such as using one to make a word plural), diminish whatever it is that the blogger is writing to the extent that I have to stop reading. If someone doesn’t care enough about what they’re posting (and not what “there” posting or what “their” posting) to proof read it and to check for punctuation and word choice, why should I care enough to to read it?

    I’m a big fan of the Oxford comma, but it doesn’t drive me crazy if someone chooses to not use it. But when someone consistently uses to instead of too, it’s instead of its, your instead of you’re or writes a group of boy’s rather than a group of boys, that does bother me. A lot. (And so does when someone writes “alot.” That’s not a word.)

    You’re right. We, as bloggers, are not writing essays for an English class. We are not writing something that is going to be published in a magazine, newspaper, or book. But what we write is a reflection of who we are. Just because we’re not being graded or not writing for a newspaper, magazine, or book, is that any reason not to take pride in not only what we write but how we write it? Is that any reason not to proof our posts before we hit publish?

    If you’re going to do something, do it well, do it right. And that includes blogging.

    Liked by 4 people

    Reply
    1. Deborah Drucker Post author

      Well if perfect grammar is what you take pride in and it is an issue for you then, of course, in your own writing you can make sure it is up to your standards. But I take issue with someone else correcting my grammar unless I ask them for advice. When we proof read we can miss things as well. Even if someone is making a bunch of grammar gaffs I do not think it is right to “correct” them. I thought the video was so funny too. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
      1. Doobster418

        Okay, a couple of comments. First and foremost, I take pride in what I write, but to the extent that I can write it using proper grammar, punctuation, and correct word choice, that’s icing on the cake. Why would I want to jeopardize someone getting the benefit of my sharp wit, great wisdom, keen insights, and masterful perspectives by screwing it all up with crappy grammar and punctuation?

        Second, as I said, I don’t bother correcting others’ poor grammar. I just stop reading their blog if it is more than an occasional typo. Yes, we can miss things when we proof read, but that doesn’t mean we should take a “I might miss something anyway, so why bother proof-reading” attitude. And you know what, Deborah, if I make a grammar, punctuation, spelling, or word choice error in one of my posts, I would appreciate someone pointing it out to me so that I can correct it.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Deborah Drucker Post author

        I don’t really think you would appreciate someone pointing out errors and how boring it would be to do so. At least I would think that kind of person a real bore. Yes it is good to take pride in your writing and accuracy. But I think everyone misses things even when we proof read. It just really bothers me that some people would think it ok to correct others. And I think there is a mean quality to it. Sometimes we can take ourselves too seriously and get a bit full of ourselves as well.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Doobster418

        Actually, I’ve had that happen several times, and in each case I thanked the commenter who pointed out my faux pas. In one case I wrote in my post, “I didn’t see anything unusual about all disk jockeys being mail.” A reader wrote in a comment, “What needs to be changed in that sentence?” I thanked him for pointing it out and made the correction in my post. Nothing mean or boring about that at all.

        Personally, if I make a mistake, I prefer to have some alert reader call my attention to it so that I can fix it, rather than to let it stay, noticed but unreported, and for other readers to think I don’t have a command of the English language, grammar, or punctuation.

        As I said earlier, I typically don’t correct the errors of others because some would — as it seems you would — take offense at having such an error pointed out to them, think it boring, and believe that I am full of myself. Instead, if they make such errors with any regularity, I will simply stop reading their blogs.

        Liked by 2 people

    2. Deborah Drucker Post author

      I think you have command of the English language even if you did write mail instead of male. That person who said, ” What’s wrong with this sentence?” Pfff! Is that the right way to write the sound of disgust? And what would be unusual about disc jockeys being male?

      Like

      Reply
      1. Doobster418

        Disc jockeys aren’t “mail.” They are either “male” or “female.” And what I was writing about in my post was back in the 1950s, when, unlike today, there were almost no female disc jockeys. And, even though you apparently feel it was disgusting of him to point out my error, I appreciated it and corrected the mistake in my post.

        But, you know, diff’rent strokes for diff’rent folks.

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      1. Doobster418

        I make a point of being diligent in catching errors before I publish my posts. But being human, I do sometimes miss an error or two. And if someone wishes to point them out to me when I don’t catch them before I post, I do appreciate it. Of course, I would appreciate it even more if I never made such errors in the first place.

        As to whether or not there is a difference between “mail” and “male,” I suggest you pose that question to your husband. I am sure he will be able to ‘splain it to you.

        Like

  6. Laura L.

    As per usual, I’m in the “it depends” camp. As you stated, blogging lends itself to more stream of consciousness writing. Most of the blogs out there are not professional publications. Most of my blog posts are very off the cuff. I don’t want to have them loaded with errors, but like you I don’t have a team of editors. I’m not being paid for this. I could go through draft after draft, hone after hone, but then my blog would be completely different. Some might see that as a good thing. >:-(

    On the other hand, unless you are ee cummings, and have a damned good reason for it, I see no reason not to put the effort into hitting two buttons at once to get the letter I. I don’t want to read things written in AOL speak or texting, unless it adds to a particular story or point. “i want 2 talk w u…” isn’t going to have me following along for long. If someone routinely doesn’t know the difference between lose and loose, then chances are I’m not going to find their content too interesting, not because of the error, but because generally speaking I don’t think they have the mental where with all to keep me enthralled. There ARE exceptions to that; the ones that leap to mind are writers who have English as a second language.

    I post first drafts of the fiction I’m starting to write. I have taken to labeling it as such. First drafts are supposed to be sloppy. Second drafts tighter. Third had better be just so.

    There need to be a darned good reason for people just to randomly correct, in public, other people’s mistakes, too. In other forums I’ve watched true Grammar Nazis at work and they are pure trolls, even if they are correct.

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply
    1. Deborah Drucker Post author

      I think with blogging many of us are writing a bit off the cuff because we are writing so quickly to get our posts out there. I do not think there is a good reason to correct anyone. You could politely ask a question if you think someone may have meant to say something different from what they wrote. But it is touchy and still could be intrusive. Many times I think we can overlook things because we are all writing quickly and most times I can figure out what someone meant. I agree with you about the troll part.

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
    2. Doobster418

      “Wherewithal” is one word, not three. And it should be “There needs to be a darned good reason….” Okay, okay, that was unnecessary — but a lot of fun for me. And I was just bustin’ on you to demonstrate a point, so don’t get your panties in a bunch because I corrected your grammar. For what it’s worth, I’m a lot more forgiving of typos and errors in comments, where you can’t even preview them, much less edit those you’ve posted on someone else’s post, than I am on posts where the blogger has had plenty of opportunity to proof their work before publishing.

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
      1. Hariod Brawn

        What is wrong with “. . . and have a damned good reason for it. . .” Doobster? The use of “darned” is peculiarly American (I realise Laura is from the States), and would almost never be used in England. Laura’s sentence construction is fine.

        Like

      2. Doobster418

        Hariod, it wasn’t her use of “darned” instead of “damned” that I was grousing about. It was when she used “need” instead of “needs” when referring to “a darned good reason.” If she had written, “There need to be darned good reasons [plural]…,” that would have been fine. But she wrote “There need to a darned good reason [singular]….” She should have used “needs,” not “need” in that case. So her sentences construction was not fine…at least not in American English.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Hariod Brawn

        Hey Doobster, we need to form a society on this stuff don’t you think? What would we call it – ‘Grammar Pedants United’ or something? Anyhow, I have to disagree with your latest objection to Laura’s wording my friend. I do not think there is any need for a plural ‘needs’. Why? Because Laura is talking about putting a singular “effort into hitting two buttons at once to get the letter I.”

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Doobster418

        Hariod, there needs to be an agreement within the sentences. Would you write “there need to be an agreement”? Maybe there is a different the way it would be handled within the former British Empire, but in American English, to say “There need to be a darned good reason” is improper grammar.

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      5. Hariod Brawn

        I don’t follow you Doobster, we are discussing a single sentence, this one:

        “On the other hand, unless you are E.E. Cummings, and have a damned good reason for it, I see no reason not to put the effort into hitting two buttons at once to get the letter I.”

        So, what do you mean when you say “there needs to be an agreement within the sentences.”? Which sentences? Are you relating Laura’s two usages of the word ‘reason’ in the one sentence? When she says “I see no reason”, then she of course refers to any number of possible reasons; yet the first use of the word applies only to a singular act of effort.

        Taking Laura’s sentence as above, then whether or not a peculiarly colonial 😉 observance enters the matter, which it does not, then it is correctly formulated in my view. And I stress once again that using a singular ‘reason’ is proper because its referent is a singular action.

        Liked by 1 person

      6. Doobster418

        Okay, we are talking about two different things, that’s what our disconnect is all about. I’m talking about Laura’s sentence, “There need to be a darned good reason for people just to randomly correct, in public, other people’s mistakes, too.” This sentence appeared in the last paragraph of her comment. I was not referring to her statement about ee cummings and his lack of capitalization of the letter i.

        The error I pointed out is about the use of the word “need” with respect to “a reason.” She should have used “needs”; alternatively, she could have used “need” if she had used “reasons.”

        Does this make sense now?

        Liked by 1 person

      7. Laura L.

        The errors you pointed out are there, and are errors. You are correct. You also just proved Deborah’s point and my point about how normally such corrections are just pompous ego massaging for the person making them. No more, no less. I realize you were joking and so my panties aren’t in a twist or a bunch (and that assumes I’m wearing panties). I did a similar thing to Deborah not that long ago about a typo she made on my blog on there/their. Although in that case I was purely joking and not trying to assert that I was making a point (even if the point made was the opposite of the one I thought I was making had I been making a point, which I wasn’t).

        For the record, the “need” was a typo and you can’t fix or edit comments. The other was ignorance. My level of giving a fuck? Zero. Had this joke been in earnest my view of the commentator would have dropped into the range of, “My, he’s an asshole, isn’t he?”

        Liked by 1 person

      8. Doobster418

        Laura, yes, I am aware that you can’t edit comments once you hit reply and that “need” (rather than “needs”) was a likely a typo. And now, thanks to my comment, you know that “wherewithal” is one word, not three. Just like “nonetheless” is one word, not three. 😉

        But first, I made my comment with those corrections as an attempt at being witty, given the context of Deborah’s post. Apparently my attempt at wit fell flat.

        Second, I said that I am much more tolerant of errors and typos in comments because they can’t be edited, unlike posts that you can edit until the cows come home before you hit Publish.

        Third, I said I don’t correct typos or gammar, punctuation, or usage errors in blog posts if they are rare on the part of the blogger. But if they are common, then I will generally stop reading the blogger’s posts because the blogger is either ignorant, sloppy, or just doesn’t care. So why should I bother reading anything he or she has to say?

        Like

      9. Laura L.

        @Doobster: I believe I stated several times that I realized you were joking. I also mentioned that my possibly non-existent panties are not torqued in any fashion.

        I’m sure I’ve known that wherewithal is one word, like nonetheless, but I have forgotten. I’m sure I will forget again. Still, thanks alot.

        pauses

        Yes, that was intentional.

        Liked by 2 people

      10. Doobster418

        Laura, yes, I know that you knew that I was joking. I’m not sure that Deborah, Hariod, or anyone else who read my comment recognized that.

        And as to your possibly non-existing panties, I have no PG-rated comment.

        So, irregardless of this discussion, and putting typos aside none the less, enjoy the rest of your day.

        Liked by 1 person

      11. Deborah Drucker Post author

        Laura, I was going to write to you this morning. Then I got up and saw there were more comments. I am sorry. I am upset that someone making a comment on my blog gets insulted by another commenter. I think the line was crossed in some of the comments into meanness and rudeness and I did not think they were funny either.

        Like

      12. Deborah Drucker Post author

        You did handle it well. But I don’t want anyone to go through that when they come to comment on one of my posts. I don’t want anyone to be bullied. I thought it was very inappropriate and rude.

        Liked by 1 person

      13. Laura L.

        @ Hariod: He’s talking about the OTHER instance in the comment where I said, “damned/darned good reason” and that is at the end paragraph. “There need to be a darned good reason for people just to randomly correct…” It should be “There needs…”

        It was a typo. I’m more concerned that I said “damned good reason” twice in one comment. How terribly sloppy, even if grammatically correct. I shall now go soak my head in gin to see if that helps.

        Liked by 3 people

      14. Hariod Brawn

        The origin of ‘irregardless’ is not known for certain, but the speculation among references is that it may be a blend, or portmanteau word, of irrespective and regardless, both of which are standard English words. By blending these words, a word is created whose meaning is not predictable from the meanings of its constituent morphemes. Since the prefix ‘ir’- means “not” (as it does with irrespective), and the suffix ‘-less’ means “without”, the word contains a double negative. The word ‘irregardless’ could therefore be expected to have the meaning “in regard to”, instead of being merely a synonym of regardless. According to the Oxford English Dictionary (OED), ‘irregardless’ was first acknowledged in 1912 by the Wentworth American Dialect Dictionary as originating from western Indiana, though the word was in use in South Carolina before Indiana became a territory. The usage dispute over ‘irregardless’ was such that, in 1923, Literary Digest published an article titled “Is There Such a Word as Irregardless in the English Language?” The OED goes on to explain the word is primarily a North American colloquialism. And yes Doobster, I know your use of this word was ironic, as is this comment, and as was the intent, if not the meaning, of my previous few.

        Liked by 2 people

      15. Doobster418

        Serious, facetious, ironic, whatever. It’s been a fun discussion, nonetheless.

        And thanks for the history lesson on the non-word, “irregardless.” Personally, i cringe whenever I hear or see it. Just as I do when someone asks me, “Where are you at?” Sends shivers up and down my spine when I hear that.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Hariod Brawn

    I do hope we’ve not overstepped the mark here Deborah; though the subject matter was apposite of course. As Doobster said, it’s all just a bit of good clean fun – apart from Laura’s panty-less entrance that is. 😮

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    Reply
    1. Deborah Drucker Post author

      Hi Hariod. I erased my prior comment because it was on the bottom of the page. WordPress does not make it easy to reply when there is a line of comments going back and forth. I think you did overstep the mark along with Doobster because I feel you high-jacked my post a bit. I must say when you started writing like a section of the OED I almost gagged. But I appreciate you pointing out how we can all get pretty silly about grammar. I think that was your point. But I don’t like people being rude and insulting my other commenters. I think it started to cross a line with some of Doobsters remarks.

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      Reply
      1. Hariod Brawn

        I think I may be guilty of using too much British irony here Deborah, which is the very point I made at the end of my comment at 9.12 a.m. (as ‘liked’ by you and Doobster), and which I assume is what you refer to when mentioning a “section of the OED”? Personally, I rather appreciate discussion amongst commenters, though if you would rather it not occur, then that is entirely understandable, and of course, your right and privilege to exercise as site owner. H ❤

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Deborah Drucker Post author

        To me it is like someone coming into my home when they come on my blog. If they come in and start being rude and bully my other guests it is a bad thing. I do not mind discussion but I don’t want my commenters being attacked. And people using the comments to state their opinion over and over and at length was a bit much. Don’t you think that is hogging the spotlight or soapbox? That is not a discussion. It is like coming into to my house and using a bull horn to drown out everyone else.

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      3. Hariod Brawn

        I hope you don’t think I have ‘attacked’ anyone Deborah, because I have not done so in the least, and would not dream of ever doing so. On the contrary, most of my own commenting here has been in defence of Laura’s grammar, as you can see. As far as I can tell, all third parties here are taking all comments made in the broad spirit in which they were intended to be taken. I must say I find it difficult to accept this notion of “hogging the spotlight” Deborah, as I think it generally is true that people read only those comments that relate to themselves, and not the entire content of the comments section; hence it is difficult to place oneself in any ‘spotlight’, even should one wish to, as no such thing appears to exist. Still, and as I said before, you are the moderator and so everything is under your control. H ❤

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Deborah Drucker Post author

        I did not think you were attacking anyone. I thought Doobster was. But this is very discouraging in that I would be made to feel I have to moderate the comments. I don’t think it is necessary for someone to write long comments that are repetitive and rude. That is not a discussion. I didn’t sense a broad spirit in that. Not referring to your comments when I say this. But this is not what I want for my blog. Not let the bullies have their day. Very discouraging. I think this is not a venue for me.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. Hariod Brawn

        I think you should keep writing Deborah; differences of opinion are inevitable when we go public (global!) on a blog, and in my limited experience there is very rarely anything personal going on. For what it’s worth, I moderate all comments on my blog and find the process utterly painless, and I had well over 100 comments on my last post. Keep at it Deborah – you are a good writer with something to say. H ❤

        Liked by 1 person

      6. Deborah Drucker Post author

        Thanks Hariod. I don’t know if I am up to moderating 100 comments. This is the first time, except for that one other time 🙂 , when I have had some contentious comments on my blog. I really think it is unfair to dissect another commenters comment to prove a point. I don’t like my commenters being embarrassed. And I had gone off my blog and then got up the next morning and yikes! This whole stream of comments. It was hard to go in and moderate in between all those comments that had already been posted. And the comments were off topic. The topic was how this unsolicited correction can affect writers adversely. At least that was my point. I did not realize there was this whole deal with grammar “purists” and the other side. So I stepped into something that I did not know existed. You are right that things can go global and other people can go postal. 😉 Thanks, Hariod, for the compliment. I appreciate it. ❤ I want to work on getting like Georgia O'Keeffe who I quoted on my One Liner Wednesday. But I do appreciate the support of other writers.

        Liked by 1 person

    2. Laura L.

      That was **possibly** sans panties, aka knickers. There are no facts in evidence (in this thread) of the existence or nonexistence of such garments being worn by this blogger. The person who originated the reference was making an assumption, the error to which I merely pointed.

      😀

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
  8. annanolan2014

    Since you have mentioned me in your post, Deborah, I’ve decided to explain briefly what I am about. What I’ve been doing for the past few decades is research those aspects of grammar and punctuation where writers tend to experience difficulties. Similar research, which has a very long history, informs the teaching of writing because it targets specific areas confirmed as problematic. Thus, whatever point I highlight is usually not an isolated lapse but a usage pattern. The examples I use for my blog tend to come from professionally edited newspapers and other quality sources generally held up as standard-bearers. Whether or not my attempt at humour helps to get the message across is not up to me to judge.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
  9. LivingPeace

    I love your rap!! It is so funny! The video is insane. If you can understand a piece of writing then it works, no matter how it is written. The writer may have difficulties with writing. I also now strongly believe in reading what you write until it is at least spelt correctly! 😉

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply
    1. Deborah Drucker Post author

      Thank You! Appreciate it. 🙂 Oh well, everybody has these spelling errors. Especially in comments because we are typing fast. I got on my soapbox because I feel these “corrections” by others can undermine some writer’s confidence and make them self-conscious. I did not realize there is this great divide. The grammar purists who are pretty snobby about it and then the other side who feel that we should not get so crazy about it.

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply

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