Saturday, January 12, 2013

Grammar Nazi

Grammar is my life. I am obsessed with it--there is no doubt about that. I guess you could say I am a bit of a self-proclaimed grammar Nazi. Ok, a bit is an understatement. Yes, I even have a Pinterest board all about it. I like editing grammar when it is not correct, I like learning new words and their definitions, I like learning what languages and origins that words derive from, and I like learning other languages. I have no clue why I didn't decide to become an English teacher, a linguist, an etymologist, or a newspaper editor for my career. I would rock those jobs, hands down. When I wake up in the morning, I think to myself, what grammatical disasters will I encounter today? I can guarantee at least 5-10 (and that's on the low end), as sad as that is. I see mistakes everywhere I go: on signs, on menus, on things I read on the internet, in newspapers, on TV, etc. I actually enjoy editing, because I have a good eye for it. It really excites me, as nerdy as that sounds. I have edited numerous papers and written materials, both for content and grammar, for friends and family. It's a hobby I enjoy, much like playing video games or reading a good book. I edit publications as a side job, and I love it because it is at my own convenience, and I can get it done in a heartbeat. So if you ever need a proofreader, you know who to go to. Also, this blog post is "alot" amazing. Thanks to my good friend, Ray for sharing!

The majestic alot
 Some of my favorite games include Mad Libs and Scrabble. Why? Mad Libs is all about parts of speech (even though I tend to take it to a relatively perverted level most of the time. Also, there's a free app for it--download it. Do it.). And Scrabble is all about spelling. I mean, I took 3rd place in a spelling bee competition I did in 6th grade. Floating around somewhere there's even an embarrassing photo of unfashionable 6th grade me in braces and scrunchies with a bronze medal around my neck fist pumping at a young age, before that was a thing. Some of the smartest people I know have an extensive vocabulary that I am rather envious of. One of these (who I don't REALLY know personally) is Tim Gunn. When I listen to him speak on TV, he is very eloquent. He uses a lot of big words that I have to look up in the dictionary (examples: matronly, haberdasher, Sturm und Drang). He also uses a lot of references to famous people, events, places, etc. I also would like to point out that many careers have their own vernacular. That is, you learn a lot of jargon, or words that are specific to that field, such as cooking (al dente, a point) and ballet (pirouette, rond de jambe). I was shocked to learn that even gamers have a lingo all of their own (n00bs, pwn, afk). It shows that you are well-educated and cultured when you can incorporate other spectacular vernacular into your everyday language, and do so naturally and effortlessly. I am always impressed with people who can do that, and who also seem to know a little about a lot of different things. I expand my vocabulary through reading. There is so much to learn from books. Sometimes I, even on the rarest of occasions, catch typos in books, and think, "Wow, Stephanie Meyer really should have hired me as her editor."

Mad Libs! Best game ever...never leave home without it

I actually want to start a business where I would edit menus for restaurants in exchange for a free meal. I don't know if it will ever take off, but seriously, it would make their business look so much more professional. One of my favorite abominable online menus that I have seen is from this Mexican restaurant, Tres Locos. You can enjoy food that is "glutten" free, and they even have "pork lion." Picturing that one really made me laugh (after I was done cringing, of course). I emailed the manager and let him know about the typos and offered to fix them for him (twice), but never heard anything back. I guess he is ok with having an online menu that looks like it was written by a very young child who has not yet properly learned the ways of the English grammar (and potentially never will). And furthermore, he must be ok with me (and other grammar-sensitive customers) pointing out how dumb he looks, because he didn't even bother to respond to my email. Twice.

 I feel like if the only language you can speak is English, then you should be stellar at writing, reading, and speaking it. Unfortunately, that's not really the case. Most Americans don't speak a foreign language. I learned this when I went to my first ever global conference. People from other countries were really surprised to learn that I spoke French, and fluently! That was a very proud moment for me. I am a huge advocate of learning another language. Not only is it valuable to employers, in traveling, talking about anything interesting, and in social situations, but you truly learn so much more about your native language when you take another. When I took French in high school and in college, I learned the parts of English that I didn't even know existed and what they were called, and I learned that there are a lot of words we use in English that derive from French. A lot of words to do with fashion, decorating, cooking, art, language, any words ending in -tion, and so many common phrases (c'est la vie, vis-a-vis, déjà vu, etc.). It really gave me a new appreciation for the English language, and I learned how much we have borrowed (well, ripped off) from other languages to make our own.

Me too

From a very young age, I loved English and grammar classes in elementary school. I can remember when we would learn something, and then have to do an exercise on it in the book. I was done in two minutes or less. Every. Single. Time. In this day and age, kids have the convenience of cell phones, and communicate a lot through Facebook, Twitter, and texting. Hence all of the LOL, LMAO, YOLO, etc. The thing is, with all of the shortcuts like that, are they ever really learning proper grammar? My guess is, probably not. Eventually we all will be like, TTHDIENEONTOT and everyone will supposedly know what the hell that means! I have to admit that for younger kids I am Facebook friends with, I usually end up unsubscribing from their status updates. Especially when they are posting things like (no joke, this really was posted), "Dis movie is so kewl, its 1 of my faves u know lol jk" or "Toca bell has the best customer survice, un like the mcdonals people, they r stupid." I look at these statuses and I feel like I am 1) getting dumber just reading it, and 2) going to have an anxiety attack from the amount of wrongness. Also, I have never heard of "toca bell." I am totally going to be one of those moms who is all School Houserock-ish, like "Grammar is cool!" and reward my kids when they spell things right and punctuate properly. I probably will make my kids learn a second language from a very young age too, because studies have show that with brain development early on allows kids to catch on better. The ability to learn and absorb another language starts to taper off at around the age of sixteen. I'm not saying it's impossible to learn one after that point, but it just becomes increasingly more difficult. Those are the people who are saying things like, hola (pronouncing the "h") and grassy-ass for gracias. There are certain things that are absolute deal-breakers for me when it comes to dating. Bad grammar and punctuation is definitely one of those. It's pretty up there with smoking. I know, crazy, right? Good grammar is sexy. It shows that you are intelligent, and that you care about what you speak/write.

I also feel like if you have a good handle on English, you know when you can abuse it. What I mean by that is that even I use shortcuts like LOL and TY when I am texting or instant messaging my friends or family. And believe it or not, I am not always grammatically perfect (shocking, isn't it?) when I type, and sometimes I spell things wrong because I am typing too quickly and not checking it before I send it. But I know when it is appropriate to do so, and when it is not. Appropriate = a text to my bestie. Not appropriate: on a resume. You have to know the rules in order to break them. Otherwise, you just end up looking like a prize idiot. One thing I am very much known for is making up my own language, including workplace appropriate swear words, random words, and general Shelly-isms. Well, I say making up, but I have borrowed some of them. Shiggens (shit) came from my cousin, so I have to give her credit for that one. Bizzle (bitch), I am pretty sure Snoop Lion (or whatever the hell he is called these days) invented that one, or, at the very least, made it famous. Tomater is a person who doesn't like tomatoes (tomato + hater = tomater). Mingys are short for flamingos, and Zeebees are shot for zebras. I also like to pluralize random words for fun. So, for example, "I love you so much" becomes "I love you so muchases." Seriously, say it out loud--it's a lot of fun. The only bad part is when I slip up at work and say something idiotic to my boss like, "I'll be right thereases." I bought this game called Bananagrams, which has a bunch of letter tiles (like Scrabble) in a banana-shaped carrying case, and accidentally threw the instructions away. On a plane ride with my friend Amanda, we busted it out and just decided to make up words to entertain ourselves, and furthermore, make up definitions to match those words. I came up with e-wambino. "What is an e-wambino?" she asked? It's a Duh!

 e-wambino: n. a wambino online

So how do I share my grammatical talents with the world? Well actually, I try to educate about it as much as possible. You can't teach everyone everything, but I try to correct people in a nice (humorous), constructive way. I won't just be all haughty like Hermione Granger, all "It's levi-ooooh-suh! Not levio-suh!" I will actually say, this is how it should be, and here is why (I leave out the you're welcome part--usually). I also occasionally will post grammar lessons on Facebook, explaining things like the difference between loose (not tight) and lose (opposite of "to win"), and why irregardless is not a proper word even though its in the dictionary (The prefix of -ir and the suffix of -less both mean "not" or "without." Example: bottomless (suffix -less) means without bottom, and irreversible (prefix -ir) means not able to be reversed. Therefore, to say "irreversibleless" is just silly, and infers a double negative, which actually equals a positive). The funny thing is, most people actually like the reminders my posts give them, and some people even thank me for the lesson and comment on how those things drive them batty also. And some make suggestions for future grammar lessons! I love it so much. If you are not good at grammar, my top suggestions would be to read books about grammar, and practice what you learn by writing. Read books in general to increase your vocabulary. Also, learn another language--take a course or listen to a language on CD. If any of those ideas are too tough, check out this quick reference, or you could always subscribe to my grammar lesson status updates for free. :)

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