I love words. I love language. I love rules. Grammar rules, especially the arcane, inexplicable kind, intrigue me. I would sign the petition to bring back who and whom. I would travel farther down the road if it would further the cause of grammar-rule adherence. I firmly believe there would be fewer problems if less emphasis was placed on speed over accuracy. I’ll admit to occasionally dancing the superior dance over a particularly blatant and/or egregious public grammar violation.
Wednesday I received an unsolicited email* touting a freelance writing workshop. I was most interested to note the text included the line “My good friend, Gina XXX, and I are co-hosting …”
I laughed. I couldn’t help it. I had to respond. It’s like asking someone to stop being short. It was an ad for a writing workshop. I was compelled to dashed off a quick reply.
“If you have only one good friend, there is no problem. Otherwise, you should remove the commas before and after Gina’s name.”
A quick note swooshed back. “Thanks for your unsolicited advice!”
No, thank you for clogging up my in-box and sending me information about a writing workshop, complete with a blatant grammar mistake.
Ah, but “right” can be a lonely island. Although I make money correcting grammar, I think back to some of my own, cringe-worthy mistakes. I remember the time I applied for a copyeditor position and spied a typo in my cover letter; unfortunately it was about an hour after I sent it. Another noteworthy achievement, touting my writing skills with a newsletter I had created, only to later discover the last line of the text was cut off in the printing process.
I have dashed off quip-filled, quickie facebook missives and missed a mistake put out “their” for all to see.
I don’t think I have ever published a blog without going back and fixing or changing something after posting it.
Auto correct on my cell phone, combined with old-age eyes, are a bad combination. Add the fact that my hubs and my son have the same name, and you can see the embarrassing texting possibilities.
Trust me when I say it is so much easier catching mistakes in others’ writing rather than your own. That’s why God invented editors.
Immediately out of college I found a job that actually paid me to employ my rather freakish grammar fidelity. I was a lowly copyeditor for a medical publishing company. I had a tendency to take my work home with me (mostly figuratively). One night I was speaking with my dad, the consummate gentleman and gentle man. I was laughing about someone’s poor grammar and said something about the joy I felt correcting her in front of others, as she was a rather spiteful co-worker and no friend or fan of mine.
Dad looked at me over his lowered glasses and said, “It’s also a good way to make people want to punch you in the nose.”
I think I need to remind myself that no one is perfect. We all make mistakes. From now on, if someone wants me to correct their grammar and spelling, they will have to pay for it … unless it is a particularly venomous political rant on social media. I’m sure that is the write thing to do.
*It used to be e-mail, but the AP Stylebook caved, and now the veritable Chicago Manual of Style stands alone in their insistence for the hyphen (as of their sixteenth edition, published in 2010). Language and rules evolve and change, but I still don’t want to see the word “bigly” become a thing.