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Thursday, October 16, 2014

What Grammar Nazis Hath Wrought

H: “Hello, my name is Headley and I try to speak the English well…ly.”
G-Ns: “Improper use of a suffix, Headley.”
H: “This is why Grammar Nazis Anonymous was such a poor idea.”
G-Ns: “Bad idea, Headley.”
H: “As are most ideas of mine.”
Some people are surrounded by the flatulent, or party animals, or Country Music fans. I admit that these are bad things, but I think I might be willing to trade. I’ve always been surrounded by Grammar Nazis. I’m not one myself – I’m not in favor of National Socialism in any of its myriad forms, and the sub-category of speech police (see spelling Nazi, politically correct Nazi, the proper use of emoticons Nazi, and the texting abbreviation Nazi,) is especially galling and obnoxious.
Parenthetically (that’s what the parentheses are for) speaking, the NNIA (Nothing Not In Austen) Nazis, are entertaining to listen to. They speak nothing except lines from one of Jane Austen’s books. They’re particularly fun when they argue because they end up calling each other names like Mister Darcy – not because the person they are arguing with is named Mister Darcy, but because the line they use includes Mister Darcy’s name. As I said, they are fun to listen to… but don’t try saying anything unless you have your copy of Sense and Sensibility handy.
But to get to the point – I’ve lived my life surrounded by grammar Nazis which is why I began responding to the question, “How are you?” with the reply, “I’m evil.”
I was raised to respond, “I am doing well, thank you.” Speaking in such a manner greatly increases a nine-year-old’s chances to get beat up (excuse me – beaten up) on a regular basis.
The non-Nazi response to, “How are you?” or How ya doin’?” is, “Good,” or “I’m good.” While Grammar Nazis will not beaten (excuse me – beat) you for such an aural (oral?) indiscretion, they will artfully employ the English lexicon of castigational phraseology so fully that you’ll wish they just had simply beat (excuse me – beaten) you with a brick.
“You are not being good when you respond with improper grammar.”
“So I’m being evil? Works for me.”
Of course saying one is evil to the question, “How are you?” is no more proper grammatically than saying one is good. The difference is that Grammar Nazis believe you are satirizing the uncouth popular culture, and so they give you a pass.
But it doesn’t stop there. Tough guys think you’re answering truthfully and give you a wide berth, Fundamentalists don’t witness to you (except the Presbyterians who think you know something about the five points of Calvinism which is almost as entertaining to hear described as listening to NNIA Nazis argue,) political hacks think you’re making a societal statement, Vegans think you’re commenting on humankind, and stupid people laugh uncomfortably because they figure it must be a joke they don’t get.
I get a lot of uncomfortable laughs.
Saying, “I’m evil,” has worked so well for me that I’m starting to hear other people use it – even people I don’t know.
I figure that a hundred years from now, saying, “I’m evil,” will become so popular that there will be a special speech Nazi group formed to eradicate it and beaten (excuse me – beat) people with castigational phraseology who employ my little reply.
Then some clever person will try out the response, “I’m good.”

Hey!  A video that relates to the subject!  It had to happen eventually.