The Downside of Being a Grammar Nazi
Friend: “Yesterday me and Kelley went to Wal-Mart and…”
Me: “It’s Kelley and I, actually.”
Some people admit their title. Others, like me, slink back into the corner and devise elaborate plans to undo what has detrimentally been done.
The following is a short defense as to why I do not proudly own up to the Grammar Nazi title:
If I ever make a grammar correction, people remember. They seem to walk on eggshells when they speak in front of me because they don’t want me to correct them. Nobody forgets the time when you corrected them. Usually it is too difficult for people to move past that moment and perceive you like they had been doing.
After someone has identified me as a Grammar Nazi, they perceive me differently. No longer am I the cat-loving English major. Suddenly, I become that lady that will correct you if you speak “incorrectly.” It’s like I turn into that mean cafeteria lady and no matter how many delicious cookies I serve, people still run away screaming.
A few weeks ago I was playing the Game of Things with my friends. For those of you who’ve never played, each player has to write down a phrase on a slip of paper. The papers are read to the whole group by the reader.
When it was my turn to be the reader, I read a sentence with “your” in it. I made a huge joke about how the player had used the wrong “your,” thinking it was funny. When the round was over, the player exposed himself and refuted my joke by saying that he did indeed use the correct “your.”
And he was right.
I was embarrassed. He was embarrassed. It was a fun night.
If I didn’t pretend to be a grammartician, a whole lot of embarrassment would have been avoided that night. Now whenever I see that friend, he always makes grammar comments and I feel like he’s never comfortable enough to speak freely around me.
The moral of the story is that I am not a grammar expert even though I’ve taken Grammar and Linguistics as an undergrad. Life revolves around relationships, good relationships…not grammar.
When people identify me as that grammar girl, they pinpoint me incorrectly. In reality, I’m NOT obsessed with grammar. Although I enjoy using correct grammar, it is not the most important aspect of speaking, writing, or even of life.
While I appreciate the structure and standardization that grammar provides, grammar can hinder language and communication when we become obsessive about it. If I had to consciously think about all of the grammar rules when I wrote, I would NEVER write. It’s just too much.
Ideas are more important and should be the main focus in communication. I guess unless the ideas you’re communicating are about grammar…then I suppose grammar would be the main focus.
When I correct people’s grammar or make a silly grammar joke, people pinpoint me as a grammar-centered individual. But they identify me incorrectly in my moment of weakness.
While grammar has its place in communication, I do not want to become an individual who obsesses over editing when revising needs so much more attention.
I love grammar; I really do. But when grammar takes precedence over everything else, I’m out.