I love this. This title. I love it because Grammar Nazis begin foaming at the mouth at the sight of it, not realizing that I’ve deliberately poked them on their collective schonzolas. And also because that title is grammatically correct…within a certain context.
Example: Someone overhears me talking about the cruel joking and kidding I was subjected to at work. (No, really! Happens all the time!) They ask me whose kidding was the meanest and harshest. With a cold, steely glint in my eye, I turn and through gritted teeth spit “YOUR kidding. It was DARN NASTY! Everyone else’s was good-natured. Your kidding, however… Just too much.”
And scene. So. We’ve established what sort of blog this is to be, haven’t we? The kind where I actually defend the semi-illiterati that spam your Facebook wall with an insane amount of poor grammar, spelling, and punctuation. This will also be the sort of blog where I take someone to task (going to try and do more of that sort of thing in the coming months) and folks, this week it’s the notorious Grammar Nazi. See, I know the beast well. I happen to be married to one, my family is rife with them, and I almost slipped off the ledge of self-righteousness myself and joined their ranks.
To be fair, the Grammar Nazi in most cases actually thinks they are providing a service to society. They see themselves holding back the flood linguistic contamination and perversion. They like their language the way it is and hate to see it evolve. I once felt that way. About words like “duck tape.” People, it’s “duct tape.” Adhesive tape designed for metal duct work, like your central air conditioning system. However, at some point people either got lazy or (I like this explanation better) the tape got reaaaalllly popular outside of the duct and metalworking communities. Most of the laymen and housewives using this miracle tape did not know how to spell or pronounce “duct” and likely didn’t even know where in their house to find one. They heard the repairmen yelling “Say, Frank…toss me a roll of that d*** tape!” It sort of sounded like he said “duck.” So, “duck tape” it became. And now there’s a company that actually calls itself “DUCK TAPE” and has, ironically, moved beyond simple “duct tape” to sell a complete line of weatherproofing and adhesive-natured products.
I get it, though. Everything in the world changes, and some people don’t fancy that at all. Fair enough. After all, I’m the idiot in slicked-up hair and a fedora. I understand. But there are also people who become Grammar Nazis just to feel better about themselves by thinking less of other people. Or just to give themselves the feeling of literacy, class, and social standing. But the problem is that language is constantly changing. If you get a chance to go to the library or a used bookstore, find a textbook from, say, 1948. Swear to God, some of it will be hard to follow. Perhaps they use the old English (but not Old English) spelling of “plow.” That is to say, “plough.” The textbook might use two words to say “toward.” Seriously, some people back in the day would say “to-wards” or even “to-morrow.” Guess what? It got shortened to one word. And that’s a big factor in the evolution of language: convenience. Contractions, for example. When’s the last time you used the word “cannot” in regular conversation? Be honest. Seriously, the only time most of us use “cannot” instead of “can’t” is when quoting that made-up George Washington line about telling lies. “Can’t” is where it’s at. Quicker to spell, easier to say. Like “Won’t.” If Tim Burton had used the original phrasing of that contraction, one of my favorite lines in Beetlejuice would have sounded like this: “That is why I will not do two shows a night any more. I will not. I will not do it.” Huh! Dr. Suess wrote Beetlejuice?!? Mind=blown.
It’s evolution, baby. Outside of the Bible and Shakespeare, no one uses “thee” and “thou” anymore. Words like “faggot” have changed meaning so much over the years that they are now considered very offensive. Think about it: our children’s children will probably start using a then-outdated word like “laptop” to replace some of the other horrible hate-filled connotations of today. “Bro, stop being a laptop and do the shot!” And that brings me to my next point. The Pandora’s Box of our modern times. The Internet.
Well, make that “The Internet and Texting.” Shorthand rules everything these days, from Twitter limiting the number of characters you can use to people texting one-handed whilst driving down Coldwater Road. Acronyms have been around for ages. “POSH” meant “Port Out, Starboard Home” for people taking pleasure cruises that wanted the best possible view from their staterooms. “AWOL” means “Away WithOut Leave.” See how in the old days “With-Out” was two words? Evolution. And that whole sentence got shortened to “AWOL.” LOL, amirite? ROTFLMAO!!
But the message is still being delivered! Can you understand parts of the Bible, even though it uses archaic words and phrases? Of course you can. Can you figure out when the birthday party is even if “Your invited! Be their at noon!” Yes. Yes, you can. You get the message because of the context. But the Grammar Nazis go CaTCUB when they see this sort of thing on Facebook. Yes, we get it. There’s a difference between “their, there, and they’re.” Also, “your and you’re.” We get it. We know there’s a difference. And you know what else? We. Just. Don’t. CARE. Get over yourselves. It’s entirely possible that in the next century, all three spellings of “there” will blend into one. Likewise, “to and too” will be interchanged. Think about it: we use the word “you” to address one person or a crowd of people. Nobody seems confused by this. It just happens. Hell, English is one of the few languages on this wonderful Earth (or as Will Smith would say, “Erf”) that doesn’t have separate male and female articles! We use “The.” The Man. The Woman. The chainsaw. It’s simpler that way, right? Right. Simplicity. It’s the nature of language, and it happens all the time. Constantly. Maybe it’s happening faster nowadays, due to the speed of information and the pace of life. Maybe advertising has changed “cheese” into “cheez” and “light” into “lite.” Okay. So what? So things sound less fancy. Big deal. Maybe it’s because I’m a believer in the little guy, but that shit doesn’t bother me. Can you infer my meaning from my status update? Good. That’s all I care about. Put some flowers around it, make it sparkle. Good for you. And thanks, Grammar Nazi for keeping the scary outside world at bay. Your the best!