I must plead guilty. And offer the court my most sincere commitment to repentance and recovery.
I won't go into what drives someone like me to become a Grammar Policeperson. If I'm honest, it's a part of me I don't like to acknowledge, let alone examine. (Wow, that's very shallow of me. Why, yes, yes it is. Perhaps Grammar Policism comes from that same shallow end of my intellect pool. Policing grammar IS so much easier than focusing on content.)
Rather, I'd like to list of of the reasons that I have tried to (and mostly succeeded at) curb the urge to point out flaws. As part of my recovery, I've even been known to let my own writing slide upon proofreading.
On to the reasons I've given up Grammar Policing for fun and profit:
Context, convention and circumstance are all.1 - It's the ideas that are important. The whole purpose of communicating is to communicate. NOT to pass some test of rules. As stated above, I realized that focusing on grammar was the shallow end of the pool and I fancy myself a deep end kinda guy.
~ Stephen Fry (see below)
2 - On the internet, you don't know if for the person you are berating English is a second, third, or forth language. If I were to make a comment on a French site, it would be because I thought I had something to contribute to the conversation. NOT because I hope someone will correct my French. (Which, let's face it, could not get more appalling.)
3 - It's lonely being the Grammar Police. Nobody respects you or realizes the critical job you are doing keeping the internet properly punctuated.
That's it really. And, while the first days of recovery were difficult, the days since have been much more peaceful and datafull (rather than rulefull).
As fate would have it, Stephen Fry has said it better than I ever could. (Part of me wants to say that it's the accent that makes him sound so smart. But the more I learn of him, the fact is that he is much smarter than I as well as much more eloquent.)
Sadly, desperately sadly, the only people who seem to bother with language in public today bother with it in quite the wrong way.It hurts that Mr. Fry hates that part of me. But, I too, have become uncomfortable with my former self.
They write letters to broadcasters and newspapers in which they are rude and haughty about other people's usage and in which they show off their own superior "knowledge" of how language should be.
I hate that.
Speaking of the Grammar Police, Mr. Fry asks:
Do they ever yoke impossible words together for the sound-sex of it? Do they use language to seduce, charm, excite, please, affirm, and tickle those they talk to?
I doubt it.
They're too farting busy sneering at a greengrocer's less than perfect use of the apostrophe.
They are no more guardians of language than the kennel club is the guardian of dogkind.
No. No, the claim to be defending language for the sake of clarity almost never, ever holds water.
There is no right language or wrong language any more than there are right or wrong clothes.Is there a 12-step program somewhere that can help others similarly afflicted?
Context, convention and circumstance are all.