“ur so fkin bad lmao”
-most games of Dota I play
Okay, I’ll admit, Dota (and I’m assuming many other online games) is probably the worst place to go if you’re looking for any semblance of proper sentence construction. But there’s no denying it – there’s a lot of bad grammar to be found on the internet. Is this a cause for concern?
Some certainly think so. In fact, there’s a whole subculture online about the importance, necessity, and even attractiveness, of good grammar. “I’m a sapiosexual!”, they declare, whilst furiously trawling through Wikipedia for rules dictating the use of oxford commas, right after they’ve written ‘encyclopedia’ (it’s ‘encyclopaedia’). They seem to show more dedication to good grammar than hating Americans and Tony Abbott. Which, for netizens, is saying something.
At this point, you can probably tell that I’m not a huge fan of them. But why should I care? It’s like if you knew a circle of ice users, right – who cares if they smoke it amongst themselves; they can do what they want, even if it makes them less intelligent and sneered upon by society. What right do I have to stop them?
Well I’ll tell you why. Ice users are comparatively harmless compared to grammar nazis – all they do is stab people occasionally. They don’t think of themselves as the superior minority. Grammar tyrants are far worse. Sometimes, I’m made to believe I might as well be stepping on ducklings with footy boots every time I make a typo. And then there are the passive-aggressive grammar nannies, who like and share grammar worship pictures, and obnoxiously comment with perfect grammar on your Facebook posts where you’ve sacrilegiously not bothered to capitalise at the start of your sentences, in a show of their superior education and breeding.
But there’s something else, too. Something deeper. Some grammar führers find the sight of bad grammar repulsive. That’s bad. But others are worse. I’m starting to see, more and more, evidence that many members of this subculture honestly think they’re the only ones who understand grammar at all. They see themselves as some sort of fantastic last stronghold for True English, like the defenders at Mina Tirth, only without the action and excitement. And that is definitely, definitely wrong.
Think. Of all the things that could possibly give cause for snobbishness … grammar? Snobbishness in general is bad, but in this case there’s not even a basis for it. Grammar is literally taught to every single high school student. It’s universal. Having a good grasp of something everyone else has a good grasp of does not make you unique, let alone better. I might as well be proud of not being excited by cricket. It’s just that some people, like me, don’t bother with apostrophes and capital letters when typing on Facebook. That’s not inferior grammatical knowledge.
And there’s another thing that irks me, from the other direction. Many grammar marquis’ English skills are … bad. I’ve met people who could spot a wrong ‘your’ in Tolstoy within minutes but express surprise, resentment, and sometimes flat-out denial when I point out that they themselves have been incorrectly pronouncing ‘derby’ (pronounced ‘darby’). And here is where, I guess, I reveal my own ideological snobbishness. English is not just about good grammar. You could write a book with perfect use of ‘your’, apostrophes, ellipses, oxford commas, etc., but still have it read awfully. Grammar khans forget this fact in their quest for grammatical ‘perfection’. They are putting it above what I believe is the most important part of writing – making it easy and interesting for the reader.
But I realise these are just complaints. I’m not presenting an argument against them. Well, here it is. Remember ‘encyclopaedia’? Well, I lied; ‘encyclopedia’ is perfectly acceptable today. Why did this change happen? Because it’s easier to write it without the weird ‘ae’. And was this just another victim of the internet’s butchering of English? No. This occurred in 1989, well before the advent of the internet forum. And are we worse off because of it? No, we’re not; it’s clear to the reader and easier for the writer. Like it or not, English is changing, and has always been changing. Reading Shakespeare should make that quite clear. Grammar caliphs should keep that in mind before they go on their crusades (irony of words used noted). They’ve already added ‘omg’ to the Oxford Dictionary.