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OOPS! You spelled that wrong. So what?

Kyra Hoggan
By Kyra Hoggan
August 21st, 2014

Spell lots of words wrong! Use apostrophes when you have no earthly reason to do so! Confuse ‘C’, ‘see’, and ‘sea’!

Me saying this may seem dissonant to many who know me. I am a well-recognized grammar Nazi. I once got a death threat beginning with, “To the heretic hoar and her bastard son … ”. I was less offended by the death threat than the fact they spelled “whore” so outrageously wrong (and, by the way, pronouncing it ‘hoor’ just makes you look like an idiot). I mean, really, if you’re going to try to scare me, at least make sure I think you’re smart enough to figure out how a gun works. Otherwise, what you sent me was really a cartoon. It certainly made me laugh.

I make jokes all the time about stupid inaccuracies and misuses of the language in a world that offers people spell check. But never, ever think I mean them without reservation.

The fact remains, language has one single, solitary purpose – to communicate ideas. And that’s a terrific purpose, by the way.

If you spell purpose ‘porpoise’ and people know what you meant, did language do its thing? I have to say, ‘yes, it did’. Anyone who thought you were talking about dolphins probably didn’t read your post closely enough.

The shorthand we use on the Internet (OMG, LOL, WTH) are all grammatically incorrect – but they serve our intent, no? We understand what they mean. The English language is a living, breathing, evolving thing – those abbreviations will one day, I predict, be in the dictionary. So have at!

The issue is not level of correctness – it’s an issue of time and place. If you text me you’ll brb, we’re cool, I get that. If you send me a resumé, article, business memo or work email using same, we’ve got a real issue, because you’ve just lost all credibility.

Being a grammar Nazi in no way implies a desire to silence even the worst of writers. You have value, and it follows that we should value what you have to say, no matter how you choose to say it. I can get the words right, but that won’t make my car run or water flow through my pipes, or food appear on my table. I have my thing, and you have yours, no? I suck at everything but writing – what a blessing that others aren’t like me, or we’d starve in our own filth, but be capable of writing very eloquently about the experience.

You have a right to speak your truth. You can send me a letter so rife with grammatical error that Shakespeare’s corpse just had a stroke, and I’ll find a way to publish it. Your ideas matter more than your English skills. You have a responsibility to speak, if what you have to say is true and important.

No, I won’t hire you if you send me a resumé talking about what you could of done … it’s ‘could have’, thank you very much, and this is important in my line of work.

But for all the mechanics, business owners, engineers, plumbers, etc. who have no reason to focus on correct grammar … please, oh please, don’t stop talking. Your input matters. You have valid ideas. Your thoughts could benefit the rest of us.

Yeah, okay, maybe I’ll poke a little fun sometimes – but I hope you never stop talking because of some arbitrary nonsense trying to dictate right and wrong ways of speaking up. (YES, I just ended a sentence with a preposition, isn’t breaking the rules FUN?!?)

Language is solely for communication, so you only really get language wrong when you stop talking, and thus fail to communicate.

So, tell everyone you have my permission to misuse its and it’s … there, they’re and their … and to say, “I seen ..” (Lord, how I hate that, LOL), as long as you never let language silence you, but rather use it as a way to tell your truth, and your story.

 

 

Categories: GeneralOp/Ed

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