Grammar Police: Acceptable vs. Non-acceptable Ignorance

If I posted a status on Facebook claiming that there were 52 states in the US or that 2+2=7, people would in all likelihood not only correct me, but also lambaste the shit out of me for being so ignorant.

And yet, it’s considered passe, annoying, and even rude to correct improper grammar.  People like myself* me are often referred to as “grammar nazis,” as if preferring people use correct English, which we were supposed to have learned in school, is something about which to be embarrassed.

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Aside from wanting to grind my teeth into dust when I see people who should know better mix up “your” and “you’re,”  the educational and social double standard that this is somehow acceptable annoys the piss out of me.  These same people who complain about grammar nazis are likely also complaining about the “state of education” in the country.  I’m just sayin’…

grammar-memeIt’s not like these rules are arbitrary.  To me, the fact that “you” and “are” can combine to make “you’re” and that word’s meaning is completely different from “your” does not seem to be an impossible or nonsensical concept.  I’m really not even trying to rag on people who make this mistake (I even do it sometimes if my brain is moving faster than my fingers can type.)  It just annoys me that there seems to be some sort of double standard where, once out of high school, English is regarded as Math/Geography/[fill in blank with subject]’s bastard red-headed stepchild.  I’m not even talking about people needing to know every obscure rule of grammar there is;  I’m talking very basic grammar here.

No one loves a grammar nazi...except another grammar nazi...

No one loves a grammar nazi…except maybe another grammar nazi…

Well, I know all this bitching won’t do anything to change anything.  We grammar nazis are routinely ignored.  But I figured that at the very least, I could get a blog post out of it, and we could all enjoy some grammar memes.   Oh noes.  I’m a… “grammar nerd!”

I was actually THINKING this last night....

I was actually THINKING this last night….

No one is feeling MY nuts!

No one is feeling MY nuts!

You all just better watch your step! Liam is serious.

You all just better watch your step! Liam is serious.

*Thanks to Louise for pointing out even Grammar Nazis make mistakes. 😀

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Tabula Rasa

The written English language is pretty strange, a fact that is never more apparent than when you are teaching a small human to read.  My daughter is only 2 and a half, and even though we read to her a lot, and of course there are plenty of alphabet based books out there, I was still surprised to learn she had mastered the recognition of the entire upper case alphabet.  It happened when my back was turned, so to speak, the same as when I discovered she knew how to match shapes  (flash cards.)  I was trying to teach her how to put like colors together, and the next thing I knew, she was putting the shapes together.  I continue to underestimate her capabilities.

In the past couple of weeks, her speaking has taken off, and she often mimics words we say (much to our embarrassment, sometimes,) as well as echoing the tail end of songs from her favorite kids shows.  The point of this long intro is that it seems as if she will be learning to speak and learning to read simultaneously.

The favorite show of the day/week/month is Super Why!   For you non-parents or non-toddler having parents, Super Why! is a PBS kid’s show featuring characters who read, spell,and solve “super big” problems through the use of books (in this case, usually a spin on a common children’s tale like Humpty Dumpty or Aladdin.)

For now, we’ll just set aside the idea that even the littlest issue (like leaving the water running) is a “super big” problem.  As it goes, Super Why! is a pretty good kid’s show.  And now that J* is proudly recognizing letters everywhere, from Nike sweatshirts to the “input” channel on the TV, she loves this show.  No matter what hubby and I are watching or playing, J* is hovering around, waiting to steal the controller with her lilting request to watch “Boy? Boy? Boy?” (She calls it this because of when I taught her the main character was a little boy.)

As I sat on the couch this morning, cuddling with my sick little snuggle bug and watching her favorite show, I was again reminded of how strange English can be.

We were learning to spell “kick,” to help the little duck in the story learn to swim.

Princess P asked , “What letter makes a keh sound?”  The answer she was looking for was of course “K.”

It was around this point I began to ponder what a useless letter “C” is.

What words start with C?

Cat. Car. Cane. Crown.  They all begin with a “hard” C.  Why don’t we spell them kat,kar,kane,krown?

How about Ceiling, Cease, Cement?  They’re soft C’s that sound the same as an S (esss.)  So why not Seiling (or better yet “seeling,”) sease, sement?

So what function does a C serve that can not either be served by a K or an S?  Why does the alphabet even have a C? I’m sure there’s a reason.  I just don’t understand the logic behind it.

Then when you consider “long and short vowels” and words with silent letters like head, kick, read (which can be either “reed” or “red”,) kneel, and basically any word that ends in a silent “e,” it’s a wonder anyone ever learns to read.

Really, it seems that learning to read English is only 2 parts phonetics, and the other third is simply rote memorization of the rules of linguistics and grammar.

Apparently, at her school, one of my nieces is being taught to read without phonics.  I’m assuming she is being taught the whole language method.  If I had to guess, I would say the way most of my peers learned to read was probably a combination of both, taught at age appropriate levels.

In any case, my child is a blank slate, eager to be filled with new words and experiences, and I think she is already on an early path to reading.  However she learns to read, I hope takes her everywhere she wants to go, and that she enjoys reading as much as her father and I.

photo credit: quickmeme.com

photo credit: quickmeme.com