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 dear...it 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.