Grammar Nazi – A person who habitually corrects or criticizes the language usage of others.
In India, we have around 720 dialects and we boast being world’s second largest English speaking country.
Whenever I hear the term Grammar Nazi, I recall people who corrected my language usage in English only.
It is important to know that a Grammar Nazi can be needlessly criticising you for any language, not English, for that matter.
Correcting people for obvious mistakes seems acceptable to me. This is how we learn and become better. Constructive feedbacks are very important to any sane person.
But what if it turns into a way to attack your calibre, actions and thoughts???
There’s a thin line between criticism and envious criticism. If it is destructive, both the person who feels it and the person it is felt towards, will know.
In my previous years, I was quite active on Facebook. Once I commented on a friend’s post by saying – “And the hell broke loose”.
P.S. The right usage of this phrase is ALL hell broke loose. Meaning – A situation suddenly becomes violent and noisy, especially with people arguing or fighting.
And one of my closest friends, immediately felt an urge to correct me in the subsequent comments. She kept on insisting my usage was wrong.
Although she was factually right, my mind knew it immediately that this wasn’t a constructive feedback, it was an attempt to malign my knowledge of the language in front of the friends who were seeing the post.
After this, we started a word war in the comments.
Not later than one hour, she realised mistake on her part and texted me about it. We realised we were being unreasonable in the public eye by stretching the matter out of the proportion. And, we both deleted our comments. End of the story.
Not everyone has a heart like this to accept their mistakes or in other words, not every argument ends like this.
If I wasn’t a content writer and it wasn’t about being righteous in English, I wouldn’t have bat an eye. But when it came to my professional knowledge, I became little defensive and did what I did.
I don’t regret the incident but it led to many other happenings in the future that I regret.
I started focusing on the proverbs and idioms. I started researching the meanings and usage of these. And, I became better at it with time.
This was a positive outcome. Now, the darker impact was that I became a Grammar Nazi myself.
After reading so much about English and proofreading being part of my job, I turned into a Grammar Nazi unknowingly.
I started pouring my knowledge of English on poor fellows who worked with me. Most of the time, I was correcting them as I was getting paid for it, my job dictated so.
But sometimes I became unreasonable, I’d tell them to rephrase a sentence just so that it fits into my definition of good formation. I’d find mistakes in the all company mails, posts. I’d make fun of people’s grammar who were not well versed in writing.
It took me a while to register this change in me and it took even longer to not point out errors in every piece of writing I see.
So, being bullied/bully both, I have some lessons for everyone around.
- First things first, as long as you get the essence of what the writer/orator is trying to convey, don’t interrupt or correct unnecessarily.
As they say, take a chill pill.
- Second, good manners are important, don’t rush to correct grammar immediately, even if you’re getting paid to correct it. Listen/read the whole piece first.
Look first. Leap later.
- Third, the sky won’t fall down if a single grammatical mistakes remains in. Some great media outlets are popular because they let their writers own their individual styles.
Bukowski, Charles Dickens, Shakespeare all were great writers, but incomparable.
There is no right or wrong in expression of ideas, we all have our own way of narration, sentence formation and set of words to deliver some insightful content.
As an Editor, I always appreciate free-flowing content with a pint of sarcasm and humour in it. Although, my former job at an Edtech startup didn’t allow me to use much of it, still my team managed to write some great articles that would keep the reader bound to read till the end.
Still, I won’t claim this is the only way to write an article. There’s more in this world than what I can assume.
There are some cases, I’d like to discuss for elaborating what I meant when I said there’s more than what I can assume:
- When you are writing a professional mail, Grammar is extremely important. Fact check it twice before hitting the send button. The same goes with the official social media accounts of any brand, be careful.
What if I made a blunder? – you can always delete the social media posts. In case of mail, it’s little bit hectic and sometimes impossible to undo what has been sent. Before anyone points out your mistake, take a lead and correct it. If someone else does it before you, send an apology mail and make sure it has good grammar.
- When you are writing an answer on Quora, be spunky and fun.
What if I made an mistake? – Like I said earlier, you can delete the answer if you are being trolled for the grammar. However, in my opinion it must be the last option. You must try to rectify the situation first. The people who actually want you to improve the quality of the answer will suggest changes, others will be there for frivolous arguments only.
- When you are writing on social media, be crisp and stand tall.
What if people misconstrued me? – you are going to be misconstrued regardless of what you say. You might say the sweetest thing ever and still there will be trolls. Personal Social media accounts can be used to share your views without thinking much about grammar. But if a group of people keep targeting you for the grammar, put them in the restricted list or block them. It’s your playground to share ideas. Use it freely and responsibly.
- When you are giving a speech, play with words and body language.
What if I fumble on live stage? – Now, that sounds scary to most of the people. But it’s not that bad. People hardly remember the meal they had last night, don’t feel entitled that they’ll remember your grammatical mistakes for long. And if they do, they don’t have a life, but you have one. Move on.
- When you are talking to a friend, you can use slangs and be unapologetically incorrect. That’s what friends are for.
- When you are at a job interview, being factually correct is more important than being grammatically correct. Although, I won’t deny bad grammar is a put off for many recruiters.
But the essence to the communication is conveying the message as you thought it. As long as you achieve this, nothing matters more.
Now, if I see it from the glass of a person who was attacked by grammar police, I have some lessons for you too.
Don’t take criticism by heart. They said what they had. Now, it’s up to you how you react.
Source– My twitter
The internet is a space full of unnamed, anonymous trolls who have no life. Don’t engage into any argument which is not worth your time. Just say, Thank you, next.
But don’t be an ignorant piece of shit by denying anything wrong with your grammar. Accepting your mistakes makes you more likable.
Focus on improved version of yourself. Do your best, and leave the rest.
If you have anything to share regarding your experience on this topic, write down in the comments. Your ideas are valuable, I read them all.