Laying down the grammar checker
by little red pen
For a while I’ve been slowly unpicking my tendency to snark about other people’s grammatical waywardness, becoming aware of the snobbery inherent in the snark and the stories behind how we write and what we know.
My working position now is that I’ll seek out and celebrate writing that chimes well with me, and if someone asks me for corrections (or better still, pays me), I’ll do my level best to help them create a strong, coherent, engaging document, free of error and jargon. But otherwise, you write your way, my friend, and I’ll turn my editing eye aside.
Do I sound angry? That’s because I am. I’m angry that linguistic elitism is so deeply embedded in our social discourse with so little critical analysis. I’m angry that it took me four years of being slapped in the face with the daily realities of poor literacy skills before I finally relinquished my own prescriptive bayonet. As a member of a marginalized group myself, I am hyperconscious of other, more well-recognized types of privilege – male privilege, white privilege, straight privilege, able-bodied privilege. I want to be vigilant about the ways that I might be contributing to the marginalization of others. And the more I understand about my fellow human beings, the more I recognize the importance of taking the time to stop, listen, and learn about their struggles before unleashing my own careless judgements. I have by no means become a saint in this regard – I still have redhead moments where I snark before I think – but I am committed to finding better ways to engage with people whose opinions, experiences and means of expression are different from mine.
The whole thing is great; have a look. The discussion in the comments is worth reading too, and the follow-up posts. Something to chew over.
Speaking of which, I’ve got a stellar quote for you, but it’ll have to wait until my sister finishes reading my Christmas present.