Grammar Crossing Guard

Came across the following article today

detailing the work by one man to edit 50,000 Wikipedia articles to eliminate the use of “comprise” as a synonym for “compose.”

Here’s my favorite line:

“Injecting fussy, pointless prescriptivism into your social circle is fine if you happen to enjoy being a pain in the ass.”

A few of my friends share my exacting grammatical standards, and we share articles about the correct use of language, but as I said to my husband recently, I don’t consider myself Grammar Police, more like Grammar Crossing Guard. If the writing appears to have dangerous consequences if left uncorrected, I will raise an objection. Sounds silly, but there are instances in which a misunderstanding of verbal or written instructions can cause a dangerous situation.

My week-long headache will not allow me to conjure an example right now, but when I do, I’ll be sure to share it with you.

My point, however, is to reiterate what Mr. Yglesias has said: incessant grammar correction may make the person doing the correcting feel like a linguistic badass, but there’s little gain beyond ego. That’s why I don’t do it anymore. Oh yeah, I used to, but it’s not worth the damage it causes. One of my friends developed a nasty twitch whenever we would chat or email. The resulting conversations were riddled with tortured apologies for misplaced modifiers and misspellings. Not fun.

I no longer want to be in the business of causing such twitches.

So yeah, I may have spent eight years as a professional editor, and yeah, I’m a writer, and yeah, I use grammar well (see what I did there?), but it really doesn’t matter to me how you talk. Or write. I won’t throw down on grammar anymore, even when baited, because it is just not worth it. Because as Mr. Yglesias says, I do not enjoy being a pain in the ass.

One thought on “Grammar Crossing Guard

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  1. I’ll admit a deep longing to correct anyone who uses the word “irregardless.” And You’re/Your, They’re/Their/There confusion drives me batty . . . and it’s best when I don’t talk much about the repurposing of the word “enormity,” but, for the most part, I keep my grammar objections to myself . . . unless I’ve made the infraction, when I’m pretty damn hard on myself.

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