Epic Grammar Feud

Wow.  I just discovered an intense feud over grammar between members of the “Good Grammar Is Hot” group on Facebook.

It started with the posting of this picture:

As you can guess, it got a lot of jeers from the members of the group.

Well, it didn’t end there.

Davin joined the conversation.  You can read the whole thing here if you’re on Facebook, but if you’re not, here are some of the highlights:

From Davin:

just because i dont feel as if i need to use perfect grammar in a facebook status u people decide to roast me wow you guys seriously are a bunch of uptight fags but if it makes u feel any better imma english major with perfect grades i just chose to perfect english for class and would rather use slang and or inappropriate use of terms for more social occasions like facebook oh yeah Imma so stab you in your fucking face with a spork for posting this shit u know that right and yes bitches i used u instead of you so bite me on my caramel colored ass

From Luke:

Is there such a thing as a descriptionary? If so I would very much like to get my hands on one, if not it’s a fantastic idea that someone should make millions out of it and give me a copy for my birthday :)

A few quick notes for the angry Davin:

1) The only difference between American English and British English is a few spelling differences, the grammatical structures are identical, otherwise they’d be different languages rather than dialects. The reason we internationals perceive you as speaking (or typing in this case) incorrectly is because you are.

2) Confusing “there’s” for “theirs” and other similar errors are not “slang” as you called it. Colloquialisms are quite different to spelling errors, although one could argue that spellings like “ur” for “you’re” could be counted as textual slang.

3) Gay (or fag in this case) is not a synonym for stupid (or any other derogative term).

4) I get laid regularly, and I still think you’re a dick.

From Davin:

Honestly, thats not my real communication mode i just conform to fit the needs of my surroundings. if im in school or with my friends then i talk like that status. If im in a interview or need to get something done to my liking then i take another tone that many people arent familiar with i just dont see the need to spell out you on facebook when many people if not everyone understands that u is the same thing as you and the people that dont understand that seriously need to get a social life and stop having theirs revolve around people choosing to use slang instead of correct english cause well if u realise that to the english almost all american english is slang

But I think it was David who had the most interesting statement:

My suggestion would be to find a major you really LIKE. It’s inconceivable to me that anyone who really loves English could ever bring himself to write like this, in a social occasion or otherwise, just as I can’t imagine a philosophy major ignoring a specious argument just because he’s at a party or a math major pretending not to notice a mistake on a restaurant check just because he’s out to dinner with friends.

Personally, I don’t believe that Davin is an English major.

If he is, though, then I can’t believe that Davin is an English major, yet takes pride in the fact that he writes so badly.  WHY would anyone DO THAT?

You know me — you know that this blog is about going after the people who make errors in professional writing.  But I thought that this was worth posting.

What do you think?

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25 responses to “Epic Grammar Feud

  1. David Petersen

    Maybe you are right about this, but maybe he has an interest in linguistics. One of the most fascinating features of language to me is the ever changing and evolving nature of it.

    It’s also an interesting concept that the key to language is communication. Nobody was too confused about the original status message’s meaning. The questions is, “What is the purpose of a written language?” If the purpose if communication, then it has served the purpose.

    I agree that grammar is important and interesting, but I can see Davin’s point.

  2. Personally, I don’t believe that a college student would write this at all:

    “oh yeah Imma so stab you in your fucking face with a spork”

  3. johnny groton

    I just finished watching Idiocracy a few minutes ago and I believe that our friend the English major will have a starring role when it becomes reality!

  4. Idiocracy is my worst nightmare on a number of levels, and we’re inching (yarding?) toward that reality every day. Anyone who isn’t terrified by that movie is probably already lost to us.

    What have “status” and “social occasions” and “surroundings” to do with grammar? Is Facebook the new ‘hood’ (God help us)?

    And, for the record, Davin’s claim to an English Major DOES NOT make me feel any better. On the contrary, I now wish to assume the fetal position under my desk and suck my thumb.

  5. I think Davin’s a troll. Don’t feed trolls, it just encourages them.

    Also, I’ve known plenty of idiots in just about every major. You can study anything you choose. You just may fail a bunch of classes if you choose the wrong thing.

  6. When you’re online, often the only way you have to represent yourself is through your writing. I’ve never understood why anyone would choose to write in a way that makes them seem uneducated.

  7. I admit to being kind of a grammar nerd, so this makes me cringe. But my issue with Davin’s argument is, if you know how to use your and you’re, they’re and their, etc, it seems to me that it would take MORE effort to use them incorrectly when you’re in a different social setting. (does that make sense?) Of course we all make mistakes when we’re typing fast, or just screw up sometimes, but at least for me, knowing proper grammar means it comes naturally. I would have to really think about it to write a status message like his.

  8. I agree with PJ, Davin is a troll. This is a garden variety flame war that just happens to be over language. You see this all over the Internet as Grammar Nazis go around telling us the world is ending because stupid people are using poor language. Yawn.

  9. He’s a kid and it’s a persona. He’s conforming to what he thinks is expected of him, like so many others his age. Sue and Eddie are exactly right.

  10. I’m piling on; Davin is a troll. And he’s not really an English major, at least not at any accredited university.

  11. I would suspect Davin isn’t an English major if I had no knowledge of Jay Leno’s ‘Jay-Walking’ skit. THOSE idiots are all college students. Therefore, Davin could be an English major.

  12. Thank you thank you thank you for statement about gay not being a derogative term.

    It drives me absolutely insane to see the word used like that.

    And Dave may be an English major, but who said he is passing his classes?

  13. I work with a girl who regularly uses incorrect grammar and words, and when I asked her about it, she replied (angrily) that she doesn’t use ‘school English’ in her real, everyday life.
    Personally, I think she, like Davin, couldn’t write a coherent sentence to save their lives.

  14. Playing devil’s advocate — maybe he knew exactly what he was doing? He might have put the poor grammar on display on purpose to see what kind of reaction it would draw? Of course, either way he should be slapped.

  15. Nonsense. Davin would easily pass muster as an English major at Yale, my alma mater. I’m sure that some of my former professors would be among the first to trumpet Davin’s writing style as an example of “authenticity.” I came from a very blue collar background with an obvious ethnicity, and one of my professors kept telling me not to use Standard English, as it was getting in the way of my “true voice.” I kept telling him that Standard English was my true voice – it’s the language that was spoken in my home for all of my life. Not good enough, I suppose, as he didn’t think that it was “authentic.”

  16. @ Luke’s “Gay (or fag in this case) is not a synonym for stupid (or any other derogative term).”
    It is slang for lame. Keep up with the times.

    http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/gay

    @ Charissa’s “Idiocracy is my worst nightmare on a number of levels, and we’re inching (yarding?) toward that reality every day.”
    Use metric units :D

    @ Davin is a troll:
    I’m sure we all agree that when people take a screen capture from your profile and proceed to ridicule you that you are the troll.

    I just had to add my two cents. And to think that I found this website when looking for song lyrics…

  17. That was painful to read.

    It’s so difficult not to judge others by how they communicate in the written format, but I end up doing it anyway.

    I also believe that a student claiming to be an English major would never allow himself to be seen writing like that unless they’re seriously mocking someone. Clearly this was not the case.

  18. If Davin’s an English major with perfect grades, I’d like to know where he goes to school. It might save me a lot of tuition money.

    (I was tempted to finish this post with a smiley face, but I trust you other English majors know humor when you read it.)

  19. @ Biff — ouch

    I will never be moved on this point. The more often you write properly the more likely you will be to continue to write properly. Especially if your major is something that revolves around writing. However, I’m not going to slam someone on facebook just for typing incorrectly in their status (unless I know them and they are a fellow Professional Writing major or grammar nerd and I’m doing it in a heckling friend way). Oh, I’ll shudder and twitch and maybe even throw up in my mouth a little… but whoever it was in the comments that said the person who screen captured the persons status and posted it is the real troll is absolutely correct. I wish people would take a little more care in their writing but I learned long ago that not everyone is as anal as I am about this stuff.

    Like the Grammar Vandal I try to only protest aloud errors in professional/printed writing.

  20. Amazing. I can see I have a new group to join on Facebook. Back in a sec.

    Okay, done. That makes my life complete. I thought it already was; I’d joined “I judge you when you use poor grammar” and “People who know the difference between “You’re” and “Your”” but I refrained from adding my name to the over 112,000 folks who were part of “If You Can’t Differentiate Between “Your” and “You’re” You Deserve To Die.”

    Anyhoo, you totally rock and I have awarded your blog a fabulous blog badge. I’ve been enjoying you for a while now and wanted to proclaim my love publicly. Please come over anytime after 8:00 am PST on Monday to claim your badge. :-)

  21. One of my worst grammatical pet peeves:

    “…then i take another tone that many people arent familiar with i just dont see the need to spell out you on facebook…”

    Most readers (or at least the ones that visit this site) should note the separation of thoughts between “with” and the incorrectly-cased “i”, but the lack of punctuation that normally accompanies it. I can almost picture the author banging away at his keyboard, and he stops typing for a moment when he hits that “h” key, takes a breath, and then continues unabated. It reminds me of that joke email I saw years ago mocking uneducated hicks that started with “I know you can’t read too well so I’ll write this real slow.”

    No, he’s not an English major. The vast majority of Internet postings that include such declarations are usually blatantly false. Anyone who reads or writes for a living would immediately notice the lack of a period or comma between those two thoughts, if not while writing it, then at least during the proofreading stage. Our friend Davin has probably never heard of that word. And this is coming from someone whose worst subject was English. In fact, the number of errors he made in the first post almost lead me to side with the notion that he’s a troll and it was intentional. The only other possibility is he’s brain-damaged.

    Side note: Idiocracy is underrated genius. I’m not sure about the rest of the world, but America is quickly heading that way. From celebrity politicians to gameshows like “Hurl”, it won’t be long until we’re all drinking Brawndo. Then again, it DOES have electrolytes.

  22. Davin’s a total spork. Imma. That’s great! (horrible!) English major, my caramel colored assssssss.

  23. I just don’t understand. If I had grown up with the internet, I’d be a frickin’ genius. So much instant access to so much information. Somehow, people seem more stupid. What a waste. *sigh*

  24. Lmao, prescriptivists make me laugh. I completely second Davin, whether he is an English major or not: in less formal and more social settings like facebook and msn, you’re entitled to your own right of how you choose to type. Language and writing do in fact happen to change, so get off your high horses and accept an evolutionary human trait. Just because you’re in favour of standardization and prescriptivism in all contexts, doesn’t give you any more a right to put down others. If anything, Davin replied purposely with horrible grammar and spelling just to push your limits, and obviously it worked. It’s amazing that all of you failed to notice this, and all you’ve done with your replies is made yourselves an exact parallel of Henry Higgins from George Bernard Shaw’s play Pygmalion.

  25. HK, you’re always entitled to spell and use grammar however you choose too.

    However, I am always entitled to think you’re an idiot when you don’t even apparently know basic English.

    Yes, I am aware that some of us are not native “speakers” here. I am also well aware that I do not always achieve perfection myself. I have bad habits of overusing elipsis, for example.

    But at least I try.

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