Thursday, September 05, 2013

Because we all want to write more better...


I used Grammarly to grammar check this post, because if everyone did, I wouldn't be a comma fucker.

I've been a writer since I could string together a sentence. I've been an editor, professionally speaking, for more than 10 years now. I love language, words, sentences, breaking rules, playing with subtext. These things make me happy. What makes me sad also makes me an asshole, a "Grammar Nazi," and apparently, a "comma fucker." I present the evidence, shared by a Facebook friend earlier this week:

So yeah, Finnish: "pilkunnussija" literally translates to "comma fucker," or someone who corrects little or meaningless things.

Over the years I have learned that most people don't like to have their grammar corrected (exception: writers handing over manuscripts for an extended and intentional bout of comma fucking). I still do it silently. I no longer read comments on news stories or web sites. I hide Facebook posts by people I care about because I just cannot with the poor spelling and grammar. I cringe at an erroneous possessive apostrophe. I've sent kind and gentle (my opinion) emails to local businesses with misspelled signage.

In my defense, I don't do these things to feel intellectually superior. I do them because I have a dream. It's a big one, but I cling with every fiber of my being. I dream that every single person in the English-speaking world will complete early childhood education with an ingrained understanding of the difference between "your" and "you're" (yeah, I'm so fucking hung up on this that I once declined a second date with a repeat offender texter). I hope to never again have to explain that the correct idiom is "dog eat dog world," NOT "doggy dog world" (yes, this is a real thing that happened). And someday, in this perfect world, I will never again have to explain to a college graduate the difference between active and passive voice.

Trust me, my own mistakes make me cringe just as hard. I rarely read magazine pieces I've written once they have been published, lest I discover that an editor missed a wayward comma splice, misspelled word, or (gasp) changed my correct language to something less than correct. This blog is full of mistakes. There is a post somewhere around here in which I used "to" instead of "too." I beg your forgiveness, but use this example to illustrate 1) I am not a perfect comma fucker and 2) The fact that I discovered this error in hundreds of pages of archives and still remember it proves that I am harder on myself than anyone else.

I could go on about how texting and social media and a failing public educational system has ruined language, but I don't even use proper capitalization or punctuation in IM or emails to friends, so apparently I don't care. What I do care about: Journalism. Literature. Why media outlets thought it was a fantastic idea to ditch proofreaders and editors to save their struggling print publications, which people like me don't read anymore because spelling and factual errors are too damn distracting. Why e-book publishers charge for editing services, yet every single damn book I've ever downloaded for less than $2.99 (or free) was so full of grammatical inconsistencies I couldn't even tell if the writing was actually good.

Written communication matters to me and maybe I'm tilting at windmills. If so, I'll be quixotic until I draw my last breath. Call me pilkunnussija. Or comma fucker. Just spell it correctly.

*This post was sponsored by Grammarly, for which I received a trial period (but since I was hooked at "context optimized synonyms," I'd be telling you all about it anyway).

7 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Aw, right back at you! Also, I think I owe you some comma fucking. Like from two months ago. May I make amends? Will you send me your updated MS?

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  2. I'll never forget how I learned that it's segue, not segway. By embarrassing myself on my blog, that's how!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I promise that I could find a mistake in every single one of the posts on this blog. That's how I know I'm not a TRUE grammar "nazi..." I just believe in a kinder, gentler, more educated world. Another thing I do all the time that I know you will relate to: Mispronounce words because I've only seen them in books and haven't heard them out loud before. Also it's still really hard for me to pronounce "Prague" properly.

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  3. Kelly, just read your blog entry on grammar. This is my first time on your blog. You are a woman after my own heart. And, yes, I too have refused (in your case, stopped) to date guys who can't spell or string a sentence together. My current pet peeve is "myself," as in "myself and her were going to the store." Ugh! Like nails on the blackboard. I'll be back and thanks for the fun of knowing I'm not alone.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you, Aerobleu! We share that pet peeve as well; drives me crazy. I just think that words are so important. Of course language will evolve over time and I like fiddling with it, so I'm not upset about things like "twerk" being added to the dictionary. I just want people to remember the OTHER words that are in the dictionary. ;-)

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