Grammar jokes are all over the internet:
How do you console a grammarphile? Pat them gently on the back, saying “there, their, they’re”
Let’s eat, Grandma! Let’s eat Grandma! Commas save lives.
The Oxford comma debate: We invited the strippers, JFK, and Stalin. vs. We invited the strippers, JFK and Stalin.
It’s not just the witty jokes, though. There is a fair amount of derision hurled out towards those who struggle with grammar. For example, this quote was found on www.BoredPanda.com: “The distinction between ‘you’re’ and ‘your’ might not look like much to some, but confusing the two can deeply annoy those of us who value good grammar. Following the rules of grammar makes your texts clearer and more respectable.”
Weird Al Yankovic, in his parody song “Word Crimes” goes further to dismiss those with grammar challenges. Singing to the tune of “Blurred Lines” by Robin Thicke, Yankovic says, “ I hate these word crimes/Your prose is dopey/Think you should only/Write in emoji/Oh, you’re a lost cause/Go back to pre-school/Get out of the gene pool.”
Taking the time to craft a thoughtful and considerate message to friends, family and colleagues is important. But let’s consider a couple of the possible reasons why the grammar in these messages may be improper:
English as a Second Language
I am pretty darned grateful that English is my first language. Goodness. I have such admiration for those who pursue fluency in this quirky language.
And though not personally responsible, I often feel the need to apologize to English language learners for the really wonky parts, like the fact that pony and bologna rhyme, but cough and rough do not.
When I’m communicating with a non-native English speaker and they make a grammatical error, I get my brain to fit what they’ve written into context. This way, we can carry on without the need for pointing out errors and potentially shutting down communication. As I am unable to communicate even moderately effectively in any other language, this seems the respectful thing to do.
The website www.Understood.org is a great source of information on learning disabilities. The website explains that dyslexia is a condition that affects the way the brain processes written and spoken language.
People with dyslexia are often very creative and can comprehend complex ideas, though they may be more successful processing information through auditory, verbal or kinesthetic learning.
Many very successful people, including Steven Spielberg, Charles Schwab and Richard Branson identify as being dyslexic. However, the struggles faced by learners with reading and writing challenges can lead to frustration and low self-esteem. Persistent messaging of “this is wrong” and “you’re not good enough” can create an expectation of failure for people with dyslexia.
Many become very reluctant writers as self-protection, effectively shutting down communication in order to not open themselves up to further criticisms.
We speak different languages. Our brains work differently. These are things to be celebrated, not criticized. When we value the very act of reaching out, of sharing ideas, of being vulnerable by putting thoughts into words, we’ll have a great deal more success in finding connection and opening channels of communication.
Grammarphiles, I challenge you to put down the red pens, look to the intent of the message and respect the messenger. Thanks alot. Thank you very much.