24 September 2012

Confessions of a Grammar Ninja

I will openly admit that I'm really not a grammar ninja, but more of a grammar czar.  I choose not to use the term grammar Nazi - for one, I hate that term, and for two, I won't kill you if you use bad grammar, but I might try to banish you to Siberia.

Why this post today?  In a ten minute time span, I saw three different instances where people used then instead of than.  I was unaware that these two words were so difficult!  I get that people confuse there, their and they're, your and you're, accept and except, but then and than?  They aren't even homophones!

If you don't have to google the word homophone to continue reading this post, I love you.

Every morning when I wake up, I commence an inner battle: correct or not correct. As a teacher, I live in a very odd little world.  When I'm with students, it's my job to help them become productive, world citizens who don't sound like this guy.  When I was a classroom teacher, that was no problem - I spent the majority of my day working with kids, and since they're kids, I could correct their grammar with patience (usually) and understanding because they are/were kids -usually not old enough to vote or know who they wanted to be in twenty years. However in the library things are different (I bet you think you know where this post is going...I promise unless you know me well, you don't, so keep reading).

Now that I'm a librarian, I not only don't have as much time to help students with their horrific grammar and super smart comments, I am now often surrounded by adults with horrific grammar and super smart comments.  Back when I was teaching German, I could go DAYS without having to converse with or listen to dumb adults, now they come into my office looking for help all. the. time.  I spend most of my day helping adults with technology or listening (with a forced smile) to their opinions about books, libraries and the Dewey Decimal System (yes, we still use it. No, I don't know the exact number and classification for the random book you currently hold in your hand. No, I don't think it's outdated and I DEFINITELY don't think the IPAD CAN REPLACE A LIBRARY.  Sorry...rant over).

These days, I feel like I can handle the "super smart" comments with much more grace and patience than I can terrible grammar for two main reasons:  1. it's election season and everyone makes dumb comments about the candidate they adore/abhor. 2. Our media makes us stupid.  Don't even get me started - just watch as many episodes of The Newsroom as you can and we'll probably be on the same page. Love. That. Show.

But I'm still having a hard time with the grammar.  How is it possible that our generation grew up on grammar drills (sentence diagramming anyone? I loved that shit!) and most of us insist on using the word irregardless (I once heard a woman say "irregardlessly" and my head almost exploded)?  How can you be allowed to vote in this country if you say things like "Where's my phone at?" and use words like "excape" and "supposibly"?

Sometimes I'm pretty convinced that an intervention might be the only thing that can save me, but then I catch a glimpse of myself in  the mirror and remember that I'm so far from perfect, I really don't have the right to correct anyone...ever.  So I will continue to correct my students, and when I feel like it will be well received (a word I have struggled to spell correctly my entire life), I will gently correct my colleagues, friends, and family members.  Though I will say I have learned that correcting my sister's grammar will result in a sore arm from her punching me as hard as she can, and correcting my handsome guy's grammar will result in a deluge of nonsensical grammar-diarrhea that will make my head spin.

Just do me a favor: please remember that the words are disregard and regardless.  That's all I ask.

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