Dear Grammar Nazi,

I know you mean good.

You think your protecting the sanctity of the English language.

But I think your actually turning people of from it. Theirs so much more to language then just spelling and grammar. Theres rhetorical style and content, invention and innovation, evolution and context. And I think threw you’re approach, Grammar Nazi, your doing for English what the real Nazis did for Germany: your giving people a reason to hate something that could otherwise be pretty cool.

Bye saying “you cant say or spell it like that or else your stupid”, you forget, Grammar Nazi, that theirs “descriptive” grammar as well — the informal and intimate kind people use in certain groups when they care little for a “academic” or “professional” appearance. Have you never been moved by words from a rapper who sacrificed syntax to make a verse rhyme? Have you never acknowledged a valid point made in broken English you might of found in a lowly YouTube video comment section? Have you never broken the “rule of three” because you couldn’t think of a third example?  By telling someone they shouldnt ever speak or write that way is like telling someone eating at Mcdonalds not to slouch— theres no need for either of you to impress anyone where you dont have to. Theres a time and place for everything.

I know these mistakes can, make it hard to read. But aren’t you smart enough to know from the context when “the polar bear ate their father” (describing a camping tragedy to the police) and when “the polar bear ate there, father” (talking to a priest about where a bear had brunch)? Isn’t communication kind have what matters the most? Granted, maybe a missing coma can put someone in a comma if its a doctors prescription or something important. But in a casual text message or mundane post on the internet, its harmless if just a bit less efficient to read.

English can be a vastly complicated language and, say you live in Canada like me, your even expected to follow certain rules for standardised spelling. Some “rules” are even myths. They say never end a sentence with a preposition, but alot of times you have to. For all intensive purposes you can live without semi-colons, colons can be cumbersome, and even graduates of Oxford might neglect the Oxford comma to save space in a tweet.

And above all, given our perfectly human capacity to err, I think 90% of the time your not being a Grammar Nazi so much as a Typo Nazi. And while a typo can ruin a person or business’s credibility to someone with a keen eye, I’m not afraid to admit that some of my mistakes here might be unintentional. At the very least, can you admit that you want to correct them because it makes you feel sort have smart?

Sincerely,

A avid lover of English

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4 thoughts on “A Open Letter to Grammar Nazis

    1. i meant nothing by it other than to extend an obvious analogy between a grammar nazi and a real nazi for the sake of argument (the connection already existed in their labels). my intention was not to be harsh,though i really appreciate you making your point.

      This piece is satire, a genre where you can’t hold back (look at Jonathon Swift’s A Modest Proposal about the irish selling their children as food). it’s the kind of writing that’s supposed to say more than it does– sometimes even the opposite– in order to make a bigger point. You argue from a perspective that you may not wholeheartedly condone, because you have to get on the side of the minds you want to change. I’m not in favour of neglecting the conventions of English; I can’t tell you how much I cringed while writing this. But, I do believe we should be allowed some leeway to write how we talk since we don’t always talk how we write. More important, we don’t always edit unless we have to. the reason this is written the way that it is was also to show how inefficient it can be to read when you neglect certain standards when you write.

      Again, I appreciate you making that point. Satire and parody are my favourite things to write. They’re also notoriously offensive genres so it’s good to have a chance to address that.

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