In Defence of Grammar Nazis


By Naomi Morris Omori

If olny evrybodz, cud be botherd 2 spel rite nd use gooder grammer ect these dayz bbz.

True or false? I know for a fact that none of my friends proofreads their emails and messages to me because they know it’s a waste of time; despite all of their desperate efforts, I always manage to send their messages back, printed on paper, with a list of corrections scrawled in red pen. I ignore them entirely until they apologise on their hands and knees for their blindingly obvious follies and criminal offences against the Gods of Spelling, Grammar, and Punctuation, who are looking down upon us mortals from Olympus, perspiring with feelings of great agitation.

Answer: 75% false… But..

There are some of those amongst us who glance past writings of ‘I hope your happy,’ ‘bbz it waz lyk so buffting bbz,’ or ‘I think its a good sentance of they’re’s’ without the slightest flinch or stutter in their stream of conscience. From a personal point of view, I envy them. Surely ignorance must be bliss?

Whilst sitting in the passenger seat of a car this summer, I very nearly (unintentionally, I might add) caused a major road accident by letting out a hollow and empty gasp, similar to when one is overcome by a sense of mourning and grief, and compelled the driver to stop abruptly in shock just as they were about to drive through one of the busiest and most complex junctions in town. However, as one may surmise from my musings thus far, the expression of my revulsion was due to no sudden calamity, witness of death, or even of a brief sighting of Justin Bieber. I was simply a witness of this:


Well, this is embarrassing.

I know what most of you are thinking: how pathetic. An act of blasphemy against the apostrophe. How trivial. However, a small remaining percentage of you will be able to relate. Well, in our defence, it is not entirely our fault that we poor grammatical pedants and sticklers of spelling have become so sensitive to provocations of rash behaviour. How can we not collapse into gasps and fits of tears or anger, when we have been thus entombed by the torturous grief which we face as a result of today’s savage and careless world of multimedia?

Whilst many of us have become lazy due to the invention of ‘autocorrect’ (which undoubtedly was also created to provide entertainment for the internet in the form of ‘autocorrect fails [sic]’), the device, like many of modern technology’s creations such as the e-reader (although that would lead on to another tangent), whilst aiding intellectual thought and communication in one direction, is inhibiting it in another sense. Some rely so heavily upon autocorrect and spell-check that when it comes to telling the difference between ‘your’ and ‘you’re’, they are left helpless in the gutters of grammar.

Too often have people posted outrageous and controversial status updates or tweets in the heat of the moment, bound to be seen by hundreds, if not thousands, of individuals (regrettably, if in the case of celebrities on Twitter, this readership could be millions of people in size) and have only received a wave of corrections marked with asterisks, in efforts to force them to acknowledge their grammatical mistake with a bowed head of utter humiliation. How can a provocative political statement, for instance, be taken seriously if the penman cannot be bothered to use any full… stops… at… all…? Sometimes they even turn to the other extreme and use too many.

Alas, the problem of copious amounts of grammar and spelling abuse flooding the streets of today is not unique to the ‘Grammar Nazis’ of the twenty-first century. Examples of this public conundrum were rife even in Dickens’ day. Young Pip, a youthful abecedarian and the protagonist of Great Expectations, chalked the following upon his slate:


(Translation: My dear Joe, I hope you are quite well. I hope I shall soon be able to teach you, Joe – and then we shall be so glad. And when I am apprenticed to you, Joe: what larks! Believe me, with affection – Pip.)

Perhaps this has been slightly hyperbolised for comedic purposes, but clearly society has not progressed on this front. New measures must be taken.

So what exactly does this red pen-wielding bandit propose? An absurd plan to move to Mars, colonise the planet, quarantine all new arrivals in intense grammar camps and drill students in the uses of apostrophes; let loose the dogs of war, in particular the three-headed mongrel of ‘their,’ ‘they’re,’ and ‘there’? Not precisely, although if all else fails, that might have to become Plan B.

The ideal plan of action for the government to take would involve:
1. Introducing a GSP (Grammar, Spelling, and Punctuation) Tax to clean the streets of Britain, whereby companies must pay fines for syntactical abuse on signs, in windows, on billboards or on posters. If the same corporation is reprimanded on multiple occasions, justice may have to be sought within our law courts.
2. Creating a job position within the government called ‘Minister of GSP’, a member of the House of Commons, whose job it shall be to oversee this GSP tax.
3. Making ‘Eats, Shoots and Leaves’ a compulsory part of the National Curriculum for 8 year olds and above. (Yes, it’s a personal favourite.)

Obviously, nobody is perfect. This pedant does not pretend to assume for one single minute that she is perfect or anywhere near so. ‘Typos’ are now an inevitable horror of daily life in 2012 – they are humiliating, painful, and often happen to the most undeserving of people. All she asks is that you consider reading your messages once over to check whether you’ve used the right ‘too,’ rather than ‘to,’ to spare pedants the disposable income they are presently forced to spend on tissues. No more tears, please.

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4 Responses to In Defence of Grammar Nazis

  1. Sahaj says:

    I love this!

Leave a Reply to Sahaj Cancel reply

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