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comment by coffeesp00ns

Idunno, man, these grammar conversations are crazy to me.

I steal a descriptor from my friend, who is in linguistics, and describe myself as a Grammar punk. To quote them:

"Language is inherently based in communication- it is understanding in structure, not structure for structure's sake

If you understand what someone is saying and choose to be difficult about it for the sake of correctness, you're being a loathsome pedant."

The point of language is to be understood, and to me it doesn't matter what length of dash you use. Yes, the semicolons are incorrect, and they do prevent understanding. But dashes?

And like, I'm in a Historical Performance program. It is the subset of classical music for musical pedants. They have arguments about the correct amount of commas needed in their tuning, and where your 3rd and 6th intervals should be depending on time and location in Europe. Despite that level of daily pedantry, the concept of em vs en vs hyphen in a real world situation is still a bit mind blowing to me.

_refugee_  ·  265 days ago  ·  link  ·  

I'm a recovering would-be academic.

I could say more, but doesn't that really say it all already? :-) Academics love things like grammar rules. In that world, it isn't enough just to be understood (at least if you are studying literature). You have to be snobbishly correct, right? Because precision matters, when you're writing in a context of academics who are pursuing knowledge about writing, and English, basically all the time.

That being said, if a person uses a hyphen or an en dash when they should use an em, the only people who are going to really notice will be copyeditors. And I guess the assistant professors. To readers they are all dashes and, technical requirements for length aside, their meaning is clear through context. Hyphen - dash joining two words. It's clear when a dash is used for compounding; typically there's no spaces between it and the two words on either side. En dash - signifies a range. Again, it's pretty clear when I say "I went to school September-May," that of course I'm not compounding, nor am I breaking away from one thought to interject another, but I'm describing a range.

For me it's more fun to discuss the technical definitions and which one should be used when - as a sort of research and check-your-skills challenge - than it is an actual exercise in correctness. After all, I had to look them up to know the answer to the above question. Gun to my head on the spot I could've guessed but not been sure.

For me it is more like knowing that the thing on the end of your shoelace is called an aglet or that redd is a verb. This is useless knowledge 99% of the time. In essence, all it is is one particular flavor of trivia - but one I enjoy most!

I save the bitching about web design for the people who prioritize web design - who can't not see bad design when they look at a site. And everyone knows comment sections are worthless so who bothers with those?


kleinbl00  ·  265 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Know how you take apart an expert witness in court when you have no standing to assail their expertise?

point out typos in their report, try to trap them in meaningless imprecisions ("you said it was 74 degrees that day, Mr. bl00, when in fact the weather report clearly indicates it was 73!") and otherwise assail the tedious, unimportant aspects of their testimony so that the content thereof is called into question by the lay audience.

Know how you belittle an essay on the Internet when you have nothing to say about its greater point?

go after the grammar.

Any asshole that goes "they're" in the comments is saying "your argument is invalid - you made a typo." It's a dismissive, disrespectful, disdainful approach to discourse whose sole function is to shut down dissent and deny the essayist an audience through disqualification.

and it works. That's why you do it. It's not because you're a "would-be academic" it's because you've learned that you can win an argument by snarking about grammar. Or, at least you think you can, because your friends laugh and snark along with you. The guy you're debating? He just knows that you're an asshole with no interest in having a discussion. So now nobody is discussing shit.

Confession: I misspell shit all the time on purpose. I mangle my phrasing, I use vernacular, I employ slang, I throw out every latter-day bonhomie I can find because you know what? The use of the word "mutherfucker" inoculates your statements against clumsy bullshit copyeditor "their/they're" canards. READ THAT CLOSELY - I deliberately mangle my language so pedants like you are forced to acknowledge my statements. By dumbing down my language and then throwing a few big words and clever alliteration in it, it's judged on a gentler scale than if I speak like I've got a Strunk&White up my ass.

That's your fault.

By not picking your battles until it fuckin' matters, you're making shit worse for everyone. I'm not the only one who does this. We've all adapted to it, whether we know it or not. Fuckin' grammar pedants are actively making the whole fucking world stupider because you force even the clever among us to pretend to be morons so we don't find our arguments drowned in emdash bullshit.

I got like a 780 SAT verbal and like 1540 on the GREs. I've written for a living. Those reports without typos that the lawyers try to tear apart? I've written them. And people like you have me starting my arguments with fucking memes.

Cut it the fuck out.

_refugee_  ·  265 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Yeah, this isn't about me.

I misspell shit all the time on purpose because it's fun to fuck with shit. I agree.

Oh! You're impressive! I got a perfect score on the SAT essay and again on the GRE. I took each test once. (770/800 SAT verbal, 165/170 GRE verbal, if we really have to whip out our dicks and measure them. But if we are going to do that, then to me it's worth mentioning I literally couldn't remember those GRE numbers til I went and looked them up, because I guess how you did on a test you must've taken what, millennia ago? is important enough to you that your scores are burned into your brain 5ever and ever, Wheyman. On the other hand idk, once you hit 23 or so who seriously brings up their SAT and GRE scores? I mean...besides you, I guess) (But while we're at it, I got 5s in AP Lit AND Lang, thanks!)

When I have an argument to make, I make it. And yeah, when I have nothing else to say about an essay, I comment on its grammar. It's not because I disagree and it's not because I'm trying to publicly shame the argument or because I want it to be wrong, but all I can find that's wrong about it is a grammar or spelling mistake here or there and so that's what I've decided is all that essay is.

I'm glad all this thread's talk of technicalities hasn't intimidated you into silence. I guess the pedantry's strong in me, but not strong enough to melt steel beams! (In case I'm being too esoteric for the roiling unwashed which makes my audience, you're the steel beams.)

As far as making the whole world worse, well, I'm flattered by the purported breadth you give my influence. And when it comes to picking your battles?

Well, you clearly cut that shit out a long time ago.


You dumb yourself down to get attention, idk, I'm not having that same problem, hombre.

sorry, gotta go. a dictionary's calling my name or some sentences need to be diagrammed or there's someone on the internet who i can tell i disagree with and i gotta let them know, right now!, real quick! -- or else i might experience reality, like if i were a grown ass adult 25 years out of school still talking about my minor in philosophy and my in-major gpa and that time i made deans list or something.

oyster  ·  265 days ago  ·  link  ·  

    but all I can find that's wrong about it is a grammar or spelling mistake here or there and so that's what I've decided is all that essay is.

Doesn't that sound a tad dismissive ?

_refugee_  ·  265 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Ironically, my grammar in that section is awful. What I mean to say is that reducing essays to their errors isn't my intent; that I may disagree with a piece but when I do so, I don't resort to petty arguments about technical details to shore up my dissent.

If I disagree with an article I'll have a reason and talk about it. If all I have to say about an article is that it has 3 incorrect semicolons, I'm not doing so to derail the discussion but because frankly the rest of the article is lackluster enough that the semicolons are the most interesting thing about it.

You can be beautifully grammatically correct and precisely boring (see lawyers docs). Or you could tell a story compelling enough that no one minds its minor imperfections. Them's the breaks as I see it.


kleinbl00  ·  265 days ago  ·  link  ·  

I took Honors/AP English in high school (surprise!). I didn't see grammar past 8th grade. My best buddies took bottom-of-the-barrel English. They were up and diagramming sentences by their senior year. What a fucking waste.

At some point in 10th grade they were slagging on how boring grammar was and I said something along the lines of "the only purpose of grammar is the stagnation of language because it calcifies old patterns and prohibits the tongue from adapting to the conditions and inventions of its speakers." One of them tried to make my argument to his teacher, who was so impressed that for years later he referred to grammar as "stagnating."

Which isn't to say he stopped teaching grammar.

    It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way - in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.

THOSE VERY SAME SHITFUCKS that think this is somehow goddamn golden lit will lose their fucking minds over emdash vs endash vs semicolon vs eat-a-fucking-dick you pedants. I don't know if you've been out in the world or not but out here they think that for all intensive purposes you don't want to be the escape goat in this doggy-dog world. Out here they drink euthanasia tea when they have colds and think "quotes" mean "emphasis."


Especially when everyone is ignoring the web design that covers up the first three words of the goddamn sentence under question

And disregarding the fact that the top comment is like three seizing potatoes or some shit. Oh, I see - those are hand claps. Fuckin' beige-on-beige and we're all twitterpated over a goddamn semicolon?

veen  ·  265 days ago  ·  link  ·  

In my defense, I'd like to be precise and correct in more formal contexts. So I agree with KB and that one Stephen Fry rant that always gets mentioned but as ESL'er I also want to at least know if there is a correct way of doing things.