Thursday, September 4, 2008

Grammar Nazi

It's my mother's fault. She raised my brother and me to be grammar perfectionists. It was almost preferable to commit a mortal sin than to split an infinitive. Of course, it is one thing to know how to speak correctly; it is quite another to apply correction to those committing the unpardonable sin of improper speech, whether it be family, friend or foe. If she heard, "Her and I went to the Mall," the young lady would be advised that it should be "She and I.." Oh those pesky pronouns. The improper use of "who and whom" drove her to the edge, as in "he is the one who I want to date. "Whom, my should be "whom." She was fearless.

No one escaped her kind but firm correction and it used to amaze me how bold she was in her mission. It used to anger me when I would get caught in some egregious error, but how thankful I am that she held me to her higher standard. And despite my own resistance, my mother created a clone of herself: I am an unabashed Grammar Nazi.

Just ask my children how difficult it was to carry on a conversation in our household. Each would converse with care and trepidation, hoping not to hear the dreaded... "Grammar Error...Grammar Error." Now this phrase was preceded with an alert sound that resembled the noise made by the fire-drill horn in high school. It was an "EH..EH..EH..EH." followed by "Grammar Error...Grammar Error." Kinda like, "Danger Will Robinson...Danger Will Robinson." Then the correction would be made to the undying embarrassment of the offender. My son, Nathaniel, didn't really carry on conversation until he was 7. Didn't want to hear that dreaded "EH..EH..EH?" Perhaps.

St. Eva the Good and I have been on vacation in Myrtle Beach for the last week. We went to dinner at a Japanese restaurant called "Myabis." As I went to the hostess desk, I was confronted with a sign that said: "To receive the early bird discount, you must be sat by 5:30PM." The alarm bells went off in my brain. "EH...EH...Grammar Error." All during dinner, I agonized over that sign. "Must be sat?" I know this is South Carolina but for Pete's sake... When I paid the bill, I asked the hostess who was in charge of the sign. "The Manager," she replied. "It has a serious grammar error," said I. She came around and stood beside me as I pointed it out. "Well, you see, she's Japanese..." Nazi's accept no such lame excuses.

Yes, it is a curse. But we Grammar Nazi's never sleep...we never rest...and even though we may be in Myrtle Beach, we never take a vacation.


Laura said...

Her is excused because of she's language. Between you and I, me think you feel "badly" about asking about this sign. (sleep on that :))

Dad 2 eight said...

EH...EH...EH...Grammar Error...Grammar Error.

Flession said...

There is a reason I decided not to take English as my major...thank you for helping me re-realize it. :D

Terrie said...

You better not read my blogs then. I wouldn't want to torture you. :o)

Nellhere said...

Reading this reminded me of the time we were visiting you in Savannah. JP was about 6 years old? He ran up to you and said "Nathanial and me are riding with Rob and Janell." Then you said, "Nathanial and I!" JP was very confused and said, "Nathanial and you are riding with Rob and Janell?"

Nancy G. said...

Hi there - I'm ALSO a grammar nazi, just ask my daughter!! Coming from upstate NY where I received an above-average education and living now in Myrtle Beach it is actually painful for me to read some of the signs and bumper stickers that are rampant down here - examples:
Pecan's for sale (pecan's WHAT??)
Horry Counties Republican Party Welcomes You (sign in the incoming lane of Highway 501 in Galivant's Ferry) - so, just how many Horry Counties ARE there anyway? and the one that REALLY grates - I HAD rather be ---
fill in the blank, listening to beach music, shagging, etc. - in this case, I'd is a contraction of I WOULD people, not I HAD!!! Sooo, enjoy your life and I'll try to enjoy mine and pitty on my little 2 1/2 year old granddaughter - she's got it coming from me AND now her mother, who inherited the nazi bug from me!

Anonymous said...

"Well, you see, she's Japanese..." Nazi's accept no such lame excuses.

Not enough of a Grammar Nazi, it seems. A Grammar Jugend perhaps. What is that apostrophe doing there? I hope you don't write all your plural nouns like this. Or are you like other English native speakers who have a vague concept of grammar, but just can't grasp the concept of Saxon genitive?