Beyond Snobbery_Grammar Need not be Cruel to be Cool

Beyond Snobbery_Grammar Need not be Cruel to be Cool - Not...

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Unformatted text preview: Not using Adobe Acrobat? Please go to http://changethis.com/content/reader next U + X Beyond Snobbery: Grammar Need Not Be Cruel to Be Cool Save to disk [ HELP ] Hide/Show menus By June Casagrande X + /1 U It’s another radio station in another city in the overwhelming and terrifying process known as a book tour. I’m a first-time author on a very controversial subject—grammar snobbery—just beginning to realize I’m in way over my head. The radio show host wants to know my thoughts on all those people out there who don’t even try to use or to learn proper grammar. Everything about my host tells me that he is, by nature, a democratic and diplomatic kind of guy. But between the lines I think I catch the scent of something else—the passion of the people who see my grammar column in their local newspapers and send me e-mails saying, “As a fellow grammar and usage Nazi …” or, “Keep Fghting against abuse of the language!” In my columns, I don’t Fght abuse at all. I don’t bemoan others’ crimes against English or wail about how it’s going into the crapper. I’m not a grammar or usage Nazi. I’m not a snob, a snoot or even a stickler. I’m not “fellow” anything to them at all. Just because I write a column o¡ering help to people who want to use better English doesn’t mean that I would impose good grammar on others. Short of coughing and fanning the air in the presence of a cigarette smoker, grammar provides the easiest way for an American to get off on and get away with looking down on others. X + /1 U I’m just giving information to the people who want it, with nothing whatsoever to say about the people who don’t. But grammar is exclusive with a capital “exclude.” It’s like a secret handshake between a few who like to think of themselves as a select few. The Frst thing a person learns about grammar may be that “cat” is a noun, but the second thing he learns is that this knowledge immediately elevates him above everyone who doesn’t share it. Short of coughing and fanning the air in the presence of a cigarette smoker, grammar provides the easiest way for an American to get o¡ on and get away with looking down on others. And I mean that in a sympathetic way. It’s all too human to want to feel superior. But the superiority impulse is not the only dynamic in play. Grammar snobs’ attacks aren’t exclusively o¡ensive. There’s a defense motive as well. On some level, they feel their values and priorities are under attack. After all, if you go out of your way to learn how to use “whom,” if you go so far as to learn a rule even most of the whom-savvy crowd don’t know—that a pronoun that is both a subject and an object always takes subject form because it’s acting as subject of a clause—you’re going to feel a little sting when you notice others eschewing “whom” entirely....
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This note was uploaded on 07/07/2010 for the course ENGLISH ENG201 taught by Professor Math during the Winter '09 term at 東京大学.

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Beyond Snobbery_Grammar Need not be Cruel to be Cool - Not...

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