24 July, 2012


first of all, my cousin often tells me i care too much. well, be that as it may, that's not something one can exactly turn off and on and i lack the energy to psychoanalyse myself to determine the root causes of this particular shortcoming, so it'll have to remain one of my many faults, faultlets and faultillinions. the reason i'm telling you this is so you know why the hell i'm bothering to explain myself instead of just ignoring getting yelled at by a good friend under the cover of anonymity.

so: there's this great book by william gibson. its main character has an unusually high sensitivity to advertising and trademarks to the point of having to remove labels from her clothes to prevent psychological discomfort and its physical manifestations. to a lesser, far less dramatic and sadly far less literary degree, poor spelling and grammar do that to me. perhaps i don't come out in hives but i have recently realised that seeing a sentence written in the vernacular of today's youth, including all the LOLZ, OMG's, UR (instead of you're or your) and all the rest of their sloppy sms lingo, makes me actually physically uncomfortable. seeing people abuse the english language (and polish - i'm an equal opportunity grammar nazi) makes my gut churn. in fact, it is a feeling oddly similar to watching the cast of a musical suddenly burst into a song and dance number - while i am well aware of the fact that they are not at all embarrassed to be doing this, i am, and doubly so, for their sake and mine.

and so to some "you're" and "your" are interchangeable; to me they are not and never will be. i realise i can be a bit of a bitch about grammar: i might not be as smart as i used to be (it's possible i never was) but believe me, i know. in fact, here and now i give you leave to feel sorry for me, because having this in my head is fucking exhausting. i still cringe when i recall saying "it's important for mister monkey and i" in a sentence that long ago day in vancouver and i know nobody else remembers (well, they wouldn't if i didn't keep bringing it up here). all other things being equal, i would prefer to not give a shit. i am tired of caring about this, and i am certainly tired of feeling a twist in my stomach whenever i walk by a sign that tells me "open monday's." i'd much rather feel that twist when witnessing inequality or poverty or suffering. instead, i get haunted by grammar - yes, i know how fucking psychotic that sounds, but there you have it: i feel like some OCD sufferer, held in the claws of a mental ailment that makes things of small import feel of big import, running around attempting to make everything nice and neat and correct.

so, yes, i realise there are more important things than spelling and grammar - brain surgery, gun control, world hunger, preventable accidents in the home, the harper regime's dismantling of canada, potable water in subsaharan africa, discrimination, racism, the republicans, polar bears etc, etc. but while those things bother me on many levels, they do it quietly and mainly out of sight: they only pop up to smack my psyche around whenever a particularly pertinent headline jumps out at me. i understand typos but poor grammar has lately been so ubiquitous, so pervasive that i cannot seem to get away from it. this, in light of technological advances like spellcheck and google, seems to me inexcusable. and, as i keep pointing out, i'm a bloody immigrant, i'm 10 years behind all y'all anglophones in the whole language learning timeline.

and finally, while i am well aware of my own grammatical shortcomings, i try because i refuse to give up on the idea that anything worth saying is worth saying well.


Tom said...

Your "interest" in the correct use of grammar - as well as correct spelling - is not a fault in my book. Bless you oh faultless one.

Zhoen said...

Here, this might make you feel a little better,


the polish chick said...

thanks tom, i appreciate it.

zhoen - christ, in my next life i so want to be a descriptivist, because i am so very very tired of being a prescriptivist. still, i must say that i have been known to split an infinitive and not give a rat's ass because it doesn't impede meaning and has always seemed like a silly rule anyways. and yes, i do get my panties in a knot regarding the usage of "literally" - and i stand by it. to say that we KNOW what people mean when they speak/write incorrectly is sort of beside the point - i also know that someone means "their" when they write "there" which doesn't mean that that should stand.

Young at Heart said...

I can't spell...the product of progressive education....so I pretend everything is a typo!!

Joan said...

Do not let anonymous make you feel like you have to apologize or explain! You are not alone in this fight for right! If the English language continues being bastardized, we'll be down to grunting at each other!

Cthulku said...

... and yet, not a single capital letter. Hmmm.



the polish chick said...

yes. not a single capital letter. that's the way i swing - meaning is not impaired, comprehension remains stable (well, as stable as my ridiculously long sentences permit) and i am actually able to keep my typing up to the speed of thought which, were i to be capitalising, i could not do.

yes, i realise it is wrong but it's the way it is. i am officially hollering out a mea culpa and moving on.

by the way, hello cthulku, welcome, welcome.