Thursday, September 05, 2013
Because we all want to write more better...
I used Grammarly to grammar check this post, because if everyone did, I wouldn't be a comma fucker.
I've been a writer since I could string together a sentence. I've been an editor, professionally speaking, for more than 10 years now. I love language, words, sentences, breaking rules, playing with subtext. These things make me happy. What makes me sad also makes me an asshole, a "Grammar Nazi," and apparently, a "comma fucker." I present the evidence, shared by a Facebook friend earlier this week:
pilkunnussija" literally translates to "comma fucker," or someone who corrects little or meaningless things.
Over the years I have learned that most people don't like to have their grammar corrected (exception: writers handing over manuscripts for an extended and intentional bout of comma fucking). I still do it silently. I no longer read comments on news stories or web sites. I hide Facebook posts by people I care about because I just cannot with the poor spelling and grammar. I cringe at an erroneous possessive apostrophe. I've sent kind and gentle (my opinion) emails to local businesses with misspelled signage.
In my defense, I don't do these things to feel intellectually superior. I do them because I have a dream. It's a big one, but I cling with every fiber of my being. I dream that every single person in the English-speaking world will complete early childhood education with an ingrained understanding of the difference between "your" and "you're" (yeah, I'm so fucking hung up on this that I once declined a second date with a repeat offender texter). I hope to never again have to explain that the correct idiom is "dog eat dog world," NOT "doggy dog world" (yes, this is a real thing that happened). And someday, in this perfect world, I will never again have to explain to a college graduate the difference between active and passive voice.
Trust me, my own mistakes make me cringe just as hard. I rarely read magazine pieces I've written once they have been published, lest I discover that an editor missed a wayward comma splice, misspelled word, or (gasp) changed my correct language to something less than correct. This blog is full of mistakes. There is a post somewhere around here in which I used "to" instead of "too." I beg your forgiveness, but use this example to illustrate 1) I am not a perfect comma fucker and 2) The fact that I discovered this error in hundreds of pages of archives and still remember it proves that I am harder on myself than anyone else.
I could go on about how texting and social media and a failing public educational system has ruined language, but I don't even use proper capitalization or punctuation in IM or emails to friends, so apparently I don't care. What I do care about: Journalism. Literature. Why media outlets thought it was a fantastic idea to ditch proofreaders and editors to save their struggling print publications, which people like me don't read anymore because spelling and factual errors are too damn distracting. Why e-book publishers charge for editing services, yet every single damn book I've ever downloaded for less than $2.99 (or free) was so full of grammatical inconsistencies I couldn't even tell if the writing was actually good.
Written communication matters to me and maybe I'm tilting at windmills. If so, I'll be quixotic until I draw my last breath. Call me pilkunnussija. Or comma fucker. Just spell it correctly.
*This post was sponsored by Grammarly, for which I received a trial period (but since I was hooked at "context optimized synonyms," I'd be telling you all about it anyway).