word nerd

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Ire of a Grammarphile

As someone who makes their living working with words, it’s not exactly surprising that I’m a bit of a grammar/word nerd. (The slant rhyme in this post’s title aside, natch.) Let me elaborate somewhat on the points this distinction raises:

  • I don’t particularly care for the term “grammar Nazi,” mainly because I don’t appreciate the connotation—does someone who corrects spelling and word choice really need to be compared to a political party responsible for some of history’s worst atrocities? We’re already reviled enough by the public at large. I also hesitate to use the term to describe myself because people then just look for typos to correct in everything I write, which we all find exhausting. “Grammar police” isn’t as bad, but it’s still not a desirable term.
  • As evidenced by my use of the singular “they” in the first sentence above, I don’t adhere so firmly to the prescriptive grammatical rules of the language that my speech and writing become stodgy and outdated. I’m firmly in the “English-is-an-ever-evolving-language” camp—we need a singular, gender-neutral pronoun, and that’s that. Saying “his or her” is stilted and ungainly, even if it’s grammatically correct. I’m also a big fan of the word “selfie.”
  • That said, I do believe that rules exist for a reason. English shouldn’t just ignore all existing syntax and vocabulary rules just to accommodate the recklessness of language abusers. Case in point: the fact that “literally” now has an additional dictionary-recognized definition that acknowledges the word’s sarcastic, antonymic overuse is disheartening at best, and a travesty on par with human trafficking at worst. (I kid, I kid.)

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"Lock up your libraries if you like, but there is no gate, no lock, no bolt that you can set upon the freedom of my mind."

-Virginia Woolf, "A Room of One's Own"




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