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Am I just being a language snob? (1 Viewer)

druid12000

Senior Member
Note: This is not an attempt to belittle anyone. I am genuinely concerned for the future of our species and our ability to communicate effectively.

I came across this post on my Facebook feed earlier today:

Too many step dads
busting they ass to
make ends meet
while the real dads
out here living like
they ain't got no kids.

Can I understand the point they are making? Yes.
Does the grammar tie me up in knots and make me want to give Facebook users an English lesson? Not any more. I have made attempts in the past and been scolded for being, and I quote, 'a grammar Nazi'.

I was raised by a mother who was well-read and insisted on proper grammar. I believe I benefit greatly from at least attempting to use, what I consider 'proper' grammar, in my daily life.

I understand that I may be in the minority. Really, I do, but the movie 'Idiocracy' comes to mind. That is a scary thought and the post I have shared here is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg.

The evolution of language is nothing new, but I see more and more of this sort of disregard and it makes me wonder about the future of the language.

So, am I being a snob?
 

SueC

Staff member
Senior Mentor
I do not think you are being a snob. And you are so right. Those of us who not only love a well-turned phrase, but also love "proper grammar," have to be suffering a bit in these times. I dislike acronyms, which seem to be the current passion. Coming from a legal background where acronyms are only used in a brief AFTER they have been spelled out at least once, it is just one of the many flaws that I see in our communications. Words have been shortened to such an extent that sometimes it is a challenge to figure out what is being said. So, I hear you. :)
 

TL Murphy

Met3 Member
Staff member
Chief Mentor
Language is constantly evolving. We don't speak the way Chaucer did or Milton or even Mark Twain. Old English became a Latin language because of the French invasion of 1066, but it took about 400 years. If you were to wake up 500 years in the future you would likely not understand English. We do our best to write legibly but there is nothing we can do to stop the language from evolving.
 

vranger

Staff member
Supervisor
I do not think you are being a snob. And you are so right. Those of us who not only love a well-turned phrase, but also love "proper grammar," have to be suffering a bit in these times. I dislike acronyms, which seem to be the current passion. Coming from a legal background where acronyms are only used in a brief AFTER they have been spelled out at least once, it is just one of the many flaws that I see in our communications. Words have been shortened to such an extent that sometimes it is a challenge to figure out what is being said. So, I hear you. :)

You folks are correct. It's difficult for people who can't differentiate between "than" and "then" to become a wordsmith. Other tragic examples abound.
 

TheMightyAz

Mentor
Too many step dads
busting they ass to
make ends meet
while the real dads
out here living like
they ain't got no kids.

Ah, the writer's voice. It's quite the conundrum really, isn't it. That's an half decent poem to me. When I post on forums, I turn the 'narrative' me off most of the time. I'll just slap words down. When I'm writing, I'll go into hyper narrative mode, the cutthroat, self analysis, critical me. We could assume this poster is always in this mode, whether at school, when taking exams or on Facebook. We could also consider perhaps the 'street' voice used here is done deliberately, for musical reasons.

What is a snob? Someone who immediately judges another based on factors they consider beneath them? Or, someone who doesn't consider context and therefore associates anything that doesn't meet their standards beneath them? Is this beneath me? No, actually I'd be interested to find out more about this person. Black? Probably. Stepdad? Maybe. Has a stepdad? Maybe. Loves his dad but can't respect him? Maybe. Respects his step-dad but not his real father? maybe. Is sick of watching his adopted son being ignored by his real father? Maybe.

Yeah, it's an interesting slice of culture right there.

Are you a snob? That's not for me to say.
 

bdcharles

Wɾ¡ʇ¡∩9
Staff member
Media Manager
I know this struggle and can entirely relate. However, I try not to bring people up on grammar unless they ask for help with it, simply because I don't know their lives. They may not have had the same education, opportunities, or linguistic interests I did.

That being said:

I was raised by a mother who was well-read and insisted on proper grammar. I believe I benefit greatly from at least attempting to use,[<--- WHAT'S THIS???!!!!] what I consider 'proper' grammar, in my daily life.

tee hee ;)
 

TheMightyAz

Mentor
I know this struggle and can entirely relate. However, I try not to bring people up on grammar unless they ask for help with it, simply because I don't know their lives. They may not have had the same opportunities or linguistic interests I did.

Or they could be an excellent writer choosing to use a street voice to communicate. Social pressure and all that. The fear of isolation. The need to feel part of the 'collective', lest they become a pariah. Sometimes, in some areas 'pop him in the ass' actually means something serious.
 

bdcharles

Wɾ¡ʇ¡∩9
Staff member
Media Manager
Or they could be an excellent writer choosing to use a street voice to communicate. Social pressure and all that. The fear of isolation. The need to feel part of the 'collective', lest they become a pariah. Sometimes, in some areas 'pop him in the ass' actually means something serious.

They could be. But genuinely poor grammar definitely exists too. When my daughter makes grammatical mistakes I correct her, because I do think it will benefit her to have this tool in her toolbox.
 

TheMightyAz

Mentor
They could be. But genuinely poor grammar definitely exists too. When my daughter makes grammatical mistakes I correct her, because I do think it will benefit her to have this tool in her toolbox.

Which leads us to the obvious conclusion that 'assumption' is snobbery in some instances. I prefer to 'assume' the best until proven wrong, rather than 'assume' the worse until proven wrong. I can't assume anything from ONE post and I certainly can't assume anything from Facebook posts, unless I have more context. So in isolation, I see that as a good poem. I bet if that was posted in the poetry section of this forum, not a single person would question the grammar. They'd 'assume' it was done for musical purposes.
 

vranger

Staff member
Supervisor
Social pressure and all that. The fear of isolation.

I have no sympathy for that. I was a straight A student who was assaulted twice in school for that reason alone. I didn't decide to ignore my studies because it wasn't popular with idiots. However, the second time it happened, I hit the bully who assaulted me upside the head with a book bag. He went down and the "fight" was over. I never had a problem after that. Plus, I never saw that kid again. I'm sure I didn't kill him. The news would have gotten around and I'd have heard. But he stayed the hell out of my line of sight for the next two years running.

The focus here wasn't on an individual whose education failed to elevate them to the level of standard language usage, it's on our diminishing ability to do that. Standardized test scores, not just in English, but all subjects, have been in decline since the late 60s. The list of reasons for that is long. Students, parents, the educational system, and social engineering all bear part of the shame.
 

bdcharles

Wɾ¡ʇ¡∩9
Staff member
Media Manager
Which leads us to the obvious conclusion that 'assumption' is snobbery in some instances. I prefer to 'assume' the best until proven wrong, rather than 'assume' the worse until proven wrong. I can't assume anything from ONE post and I certainly can't assume anything from Facebook posts, unless I have more context. So in isolation, I see that as a good poem. I bet if that was posted in the poetry section of this forum, not a single person would question the grammar. They'd 'assume' it was done for musical purposes.

In some instances, sure. There is absolutely a part of me that is an insufferable language snob; my wife has brought it up many times. Add to that the ways in which experience (which I suppose feeds into gut instinct) has often shown it to be a genuine deficit on their part, which I think it's better on balance to remain aware of than deny. I just try not to weaponise it or make people feel bad for not having the exact same body of standards or level of interest in the subject I do; I'm grateful for this one somewhat minor ability I have, and undoubtedly there are skillsets these others possess that I can only dream about. Also, I don't want people to dislike me so I mostly try and keep schtum ... mostly ;)

Other times, I'm pleasantly surprised.
 

escorial

WF Veterans
Snobs in anything just tend to massage their own ego but when so why not break all the rules then make up your own and break them to...
 

TheMightyAz

Mentor
I have no sympathy for that. I was a straight A student who was assaulted twice in school for that reason alone. I didn't decide to ignore my studies because it wasn't popular with idiots. However, the second time it happened, I hit the bully who assaulted me upside the head with a book bag. He went down and the "fight" was over. I never had a problem after that. Plus, I never saw that kid again. I'm sure I didn't kill him. The news would have gotten around and I'd have heard. But he stayed the hell out of my line of sight for the next two years running.

The focus here wasn't on an individual whose education failed to elevate them to the level of standard language usage, it's on our diminishing ability to do that. Standardized test scores, not just in English, but all subjects, have been in decline since the late 60s. The list of reasons for that is long. Students, parents, the educational system, and social engineering all bear part of the shame.

There but for the grace of God go I, eh?

This whole thread is predicated on the assumption this person isn't 'a' because we need to attribute 'b' to them.

Yeah, it's snobbery.
 

TheMightyAz

Mentor
In some instances, sure. There is absolutely a part of me that is an insufferable language snob; my wife has brought it up many times. Add to that the ways in which experience (which I suppose feeds into gut instinct) has often shown it to be a genuine deficit on their part, which I think it's better on balance to remain aware of than deny. I just try not to weaponise it or make people feel bad for not having the exact same body of standards or level of interest in the subject I do; I'm grateful for this one somewhat minor ability I have, and undoubtedly there are skillsets these others possess that I can only dream about. Also, I don't want people to dislike me so I mostly try and keep schtum ... mostly ;)

Other times, I'm pleasantly surprised.

Not assuming isn't denial. It's taking a neutral position in order not to look a fool in the future. For all we know this guy/gal might be a genius. It's not that you can't judge people, it's that you shouldn't based on an assumption. I need to see their academic work first, not a single Facebook post. To assume based on one post, on Facebook, is indeed snobbery. :)

I aint no snob so will always fall on the side of those without a voice in the debate.
 

vranger

Staff member
Supervisor
There but for the grace of God go I, eh?
This whole thread is predicated on the assumption this person isn't 'a' because we need to attribute 'b' to them. Yeah, it's snobbery.

It's not snobbery to know that you know more about something than someone else. It's fact. People are created equal. After that, it's open season. Individuals make their own choices, and not all of those choices are good ones.

I don't look down on someone who lacks facility with the English language. People rise to levels of worth in many ways. However, I sure as hell wouldn't pick them to write my ad copy or a business letter, and I won't read their fiction. I'm entitled to decide on my own standards for my own experiences. However, I'm happy to have positive regard for an alternate talent they exhibit.

If I see a published work with an egregious vocabulary or grammar error in the first paragraph, and that's more common than you may think, I'm done with it, and I'm done with that author. Skill and professional standards matter. Would you extend the same sympathy to a mechanic who changes your tires and fails to tighten the lugs? I think not.
 

TheMightyAz

Mentor
It's not snobbery to know that you know more about something than someone else. It's fact. People are created equal. After that, it's open season. Individuals make their own choices, and not all of those choices are good ones.

I don't look down on someone who lacks facility with the English language. People rise to levels of worth in many ways. However, I sure as hell wouldn't pick them to write my ad copy or a business letter, and I won't read their fiction. I'm entitled to decide on my own standards for my own experiences. However, I'm happy to have positive regard for an alternate talent they exhibit.

If I see a published work with an egregious vocabulary or grammar error in the first paragraph, and that's more common than you may think, I'm done with it, and I'm done with that author. Skill and professional standards matter. Would you extend the same sympathy to a mechanic who changes your tires and fails to tighten the lugs? I think not.

But you don't know the ability of this poster. You're assuming based on one Facebook post. When I show 'Fag and a Can' to people, I'm certain, without context, they 'assume' my ability is at that level. They don't know I wrote it in that way deliberately. It's the same here. Assumption is snobbery and people here are assuming. If you've got a posh voice, should I assume a particular mindset? No.

Got me sen a fag and a can
Two black eyes cos I’m the man
Tattoos and dots on me face
Scars and jeans to hide me grace
 

bdcharles

Wɾ¡ʇ¡∩9
Staff member
Media Manager
Not assuming isn't denial. It's taking a neutral position in order not to look a fool in the future. For all we know this guy/gal might be a genius. It's not that you can't judge people, it's that you shouldn't based on an assumption. I need to see their academic work first, not a single Facebook post. To assume based on one post, on Facebook, is indeed snobbery. :)

I aint no snob so will always fall on the side of those without a voice in the debate.

You can be a genius and still have bad grammar though.
 

TheMightyAz

Mentor
You can be a genius and still have bad grammar though.

LOL. Well, of course, but this is about whether the person we're discussing in her/his absence, has in fact written it that way deliberately. Obviously, the 'genius' I would mean in that context, is a writing genius.
 

bdcharles

Wɾ¡ʇ¡∩9
Staff member
Media Manager
Assumption is snobbery

In this instance, the language does seem quite like street slang, so it looks intentional and fits that context as I understand it. So, if I saw this written and it fit with the tone and whatnot, I'd absolutely let it sit; it would work well for me. However, what is actually being asked? Is the OP being a snob for caring about grammar in general or about this bit of grammar? What are we assuming is being asked here?

If it's just this bit, I would say there are stylistic things that they may not be aware of that can be let slide in service of voice. If it's grammar in general, I would say (when asked) there are many instances of grammar that fall short of either established norms or workable vernacular to the point where you are left with the choice of believing it to be a mistake or overlooking what you know, sort of selling your own abilities short. That's my process and it works for me. Bear in mind that this is, for me, an internal train of thought concerning a specific request. What I would actually tell people depends on what people want to know.
 

vranger

Staff member
Supervisor
But you don't know the ability of this poster. You're assuming based on one Facebook post. When I show 'Fag and a Can' to people, I'm certain, without context, they 'assume' my ability is at that level. They don't know I wrote it in that way deliberately. It's the same here. Assumption is snobbery and people here are assuming. If you've got a posh voice, should I assume a particular mindset? No.

Got me sen a fag and a can
Two black eyes cos I’m the man
Tattoos and dots on me face
Scars and jeans to hide me grace

You're expanding the discussion beyond what the OP wrote, which isn't fair. The OP decried the poor grammar in the example ... not the author ... and not any hypothetical alternate works.
 
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