Words Matter: SPAG, *You’re It

Unless you (or the person to whom you are referring) have murdered someone over a comma, then you are not a grammar Nazi.

Using the word Nazi or fascist flippantly and making quick comparisons to Hitler weakens meaning and diminishes the impact of the correct usage.

Growing up it was rare for me to hear the term Nazi, and now I hear it lobbed from conservatives and liberals incorrectly, while there are actual white supremacists and neo-Nazis around. What was once a shocking condemnation now goes off without a fizzle due to overuse.

Meme: I hate spelling errors. You mix up two letters, and your whole post is ruined.

Often times when I see *you’re posted in response to an incorrect use of your or other common corrections of spelling and grammar (the SPAG I referenced in the title), it seems to be with the intent of diminishing the previous conversant’s statement and/or to incite them – both examples of bookish bullying, of academic badgering. Perhaps the one misusing the contractive pronoun is actually uneducated in its proper use, but they’re probably just making a simple mistake, as we all do. If they are in fact unaware of proper usage, then correcting them thusly is not a conducive forum for education, and is simply elitist. I have witnessed such corrections used to trounce AAVE, British English, and Appalachian English, making them ethnocentric exclusions.

Once I heard someone state that grammar rules do not change, yet in British English there has been a move from double quotation marks to single quotation marks, and ain’t has long been in Webster’s dictionary. The English language is evolving. Let’s evolve with it for better and not worse.

Business Insider’s “The Psychological Reason You Can’t Spot Your Own Typos” has a compelling case for being more compassionate to other people trying to communicate with us.

As with all high level tasks, your brain generalizes simple, component parts (like turning letters into words and words into sentences) so it can focus on more complex tasks (like combining sentences into complex ideas).

Business Insider, “The Psychological Reason You Can’t Spot Your Own Typos”
Closeup of keyboard

Words are intrinsic to communication. Gestures, tones, art- there aren’t many tools in that box besides words.
Let’s try to use appropriate, accurate comparisons so all of our words are more powerful.

I suggest instead that someone who is a jerk over grammar be called a punctuation pilgarlic or a language lich. Perhaps, depending on the individual and their behavior, they might be a pedantic boor or a dialectical dillweed.


What do you think we should call people who offer unrequested critiques on someone else’s spelling and grammar?

2 Comments Add yours

  1. caelesti says:

    Annoying, obnoxious, pretentious. It doesn’t need to be a noun. I think the “grammar Nazi” thing was more common when far right groups weren’t as loud/prominent. But yes it ends up being a “Boy Who Cried Wolf” situation in politics.

    Like

    1. Thank you for taking the time to respond. 😊
      I think you may be right about it being less common now. I used to hear it a lot more. I’ve heard it a few times recently where it really stood out to me. The person was labeling themselves as a grammar Nazi, and it struck me as something I most certainly do not want to be called. 😅

      Liked by 1 person

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