Your Kidding.

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.

Can we call them something else, please? My grandad killed real Nazis. The guy that corrects your apostrophe placement seems a bit less scary than Hitler. That’s all I’m sayin’.

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.

No, no! The OTHER Beetlejuice!

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!!

Seriously, nobody cares.

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!

Please, Grammar…don’t hurt ’em.

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24 responses to “Your Kidding.

  1. My best friend is a grammar Nazi. (She’s actually over my shoulder fixing my grammar as we speak.) ANYWAYS, I showed her the title and she glared. (Oh god… I’m going to kill her….) And she told me that she is scarier than Hitler….

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  2. Yeah, what you said, Turner. Because half the time the GN are jumping on someone who has just made a typo or they know better on a good day. I spend most of my days trying very, very hard not to F-up in print. And guess what? I once wrote that someone had a black belt in “marshal arts.” Did I know better? Hell yes. My brain farted. Actually, it shat itself that day. So BACK OFF people.

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  3. Anybody can screw up a word, it’s only the neurotics that go back and demand change.
    BUTT… I have been known to take a marker to a sign when it’s so wrong I can’t stand it. Call me mental.

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      • I don’t hold myself to the highest standard; i screw up frequently because I HEAR a word in my head and that’s what my fingers type or write. But for a public post, a sign that will be seen in public, then it just looks good to be double checked and correct. Just don’t call me a Nazi over this, I like good slang and a curse word too…it’s the inner writer in me that wants perfection. I don’t make a fuss unless the error changes the meaning in the wrong direction of the intended statement.

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      • Agreed. In personal communications, the MESSAGE is more important than the style, but the old “let’s eat, grandma!” versus “let’s eat grandma!” argument still holds water.

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  4. While I agree that “Grammer Nazis” are annoying and I try really hard not to be one, I do have an issue with the way our language is being slaughtered. As a writer, and one who makes a living being one, I have a true appreciation for good writing. There’s a lot of bad writing out there. Yes, we have to evolve and I am definitely not resistant to evolution, but the laziness and lack of caring for the art form that is our language that runs rampant on the internet really chaps my ass.

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    • I just responded to another guy that there should be a double-standard. Much like when one writes prose, it’s not written in the “spoken” word unless it’s dialog. Poetry, on the other hand, bends the rules at will. Otherwise no one would know who E.E. Cummings was.

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  5. from everybody who is smart about a many other things but can’t grasp some of the workings of the english language from the bottom of my heart thank you. just thank you.

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  6. I found your post quite interesting, but couldn’t help noticing that you’re missing something in it, in my opinion. There is a difference between ignorance (which MUST be fixed) and evolution of languages.

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  7. Failure of learning the basic rules of grammar taught at school or even reading a single book which than results in the writings on facebook that grammar nazis hate shouldn’t be confused with the “natural” evolution of language (which you described very well in the article). The latter occurs at a much slower rate and in spoken form. I know that there is SMS, but the difference lies in the fact that these messages are private and thus visible only to the small amount of people. Things posted on facebook are seen by many, and these are the ONLY things that a lot kids nowadays read. Oh, they read shitty short articles just about the size of their small attention spans that are written by, wait, the same kids who post things on facebook in the first place. It’s an enchanted circle that will lead to the degeneration, and not the evolution of language. Language is the most important tool of our civilization, the thing that brought us here, and I’m afraid that it’s downfall will lead to the downfall of our civilization too. And not just that, impoverished language stupefies the blade of critical thought which than makes the people more prone to the manipulation carried out by politicians and interest groups. In short , the problem is not in the fact that kids make grammatical mistakes because they want to make their communication more economical and faster, they’re often doing it because they don’t know better.

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    • Yes, for the sake of sensationalism/humor, I certainly do push the reality of the situation a bit. But I hope that my drift has been well and truly “caught” and I certainly thank you for reading (and commenting!)

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