Thursday, August 25, 2011

grammar and an obnoxious metaphor

I am not really a grammar nerd. The whole 'your vs. you're' thing annoys me as much as the next Nerdfighter and I had a childhood phase of correcting people when they said that-annoying-grammar-mistake-that-I-can't-seem-to-remember but, in the long run, grammar isn't a passion of mine. It's kind of that thing in the back of my mind that I think about sometimes and laugh about on Facebook.

So on Tuesday, when my mom brought up in conversation how it annoys her when my sisters and I* say "me and you" instead of "you and I", I was a little irritated. When I think about it, having my grammar or pronunciation corrected--unless I specifically asked for it--is always a little irritating, especially when it's such a pointless correction because it's obviously clear what I was trying to say and your automatic interruption/correction is only making me self conscious. Thanks for that.

I sat there for a moment, opening and closing my mouth before I responded. Because, excuse me for the apparent apathy, I just don't care.** I explained that, for me, it wasn't a clarity issue and so that pretty much negated its argument for grammatical importance. In my opinion, grammar and punctuation are there to be the traffic rules and road signs of language. They're important, even crucial, to civilization and communication getting along smoothly, yet sometimes there are some pointless rules out there. To ride this metaphor a little further, let's say there's a stop sign without any reason, intersection or safety need in the middle of nowhere? No, that doesn't work. Okay, say there's two merge signs that look different, but convey the same message. One of them is technically right but they both achieve the same thing and are widely recognized, provided you know how to read them. But one of them is wrong.
Metaphors are sometimes confusing. Why do I try? *existential crisis* *gets on with life*

In the end, my mom owned the issue and we moved on with our lives. Or maybe she's still holding a grudge, it's hard to say. Regardless, it got me thinking about grammar and, then lo and behold, effyeahnerdfighters posted a John Green quite with the subject of grammar very soon after this debacle. Here it is:
"The point of grammar is to facilitate clear and precise communication, to make language reflect thought and intention as closely as possible. On that front, a lot of colloquial bad grammar is actually good grammar. I think focusing on grammar for grammar's sake is a mistake."
See Mom? John Green agrees me. Or at least I've think. Based on the lack of context, I'd decided to see it that way. Taking-quotes-out-of-context-to-serve-your-point for the WIN.

*Haha. See what I did there? Okay, so it only make sense at the end.**
**Only in writing this blog does it occur to me that this blog existing means I care.
***Are you one of those people that reads the footnotes as they appear in the blog or ignores them, gets to the bottom and is confused? Polls! Seriously, I want to know.

1 comment:

Vita said...

I agree. It's annoying when official things use incorrect grammar though. "15 items or fewer." Pay attention, grocery stores.