Simply Jonathan

Grammar is more than plain purity

I am infamous amongst my acquaintances for being pedantic, especially when it comes to language. For quite a long time, I would correct — and enjoy to do so — my teacher, if he or she would have a left out a comma.

And for the longest time, most people I knew hated me for it.

I have since all in all left this practice behind (although I still get the urge, I try to suppress it. And yes, I do make this sound worse than it is.)

So, it seems I have overcome the worst, and should just leave it all behind me, and get on. The truth is, however, I still stand by the goal of what I did — achieving better and more accurate language, particularly with regards to spelling. The only reason I do not do this anymore is I try to be less of a prick.

The thing is, I really do feel we need to stress the importance of proper grammar and reduce typos etc. as much as humanly possible1. Because I think proper grammar is essential to getting your message through.

I have at many times been called arrogant, asserting that everyone can uphold a language of the standard I myself hold2. I understand this concern, and I want to stress that do not assert this. I have a large deal of respect for people who suffer from dyslexia; I know I would personally hate suffering from this.

This is not directed at those unfortunate souls; this is directed at those who are simply too lazy to re-read their writings, to check for errors. I believe that is arrogant. To have the ability to do something which is arguably better than not doing it, and then choose not to do it.

I believe this shows a lack of respect for the intended audience of one’s writings. I believe it is arrogant — yes, indeed so — to put unnecessary trouble on the shoulders of people one wants to read what one have said. I do not demand perfectionism from others; all I long for is effort, that people put enough into what they want others to read, that they will want to read it.

This is not about wonderful, varied use of language. I realise that not everyone was born to be a great writer, but that some will still need to write something, occasionally. When you are not a great writer, the very least you can do is make sure that what you write is still readable, if not necessarily a joy to read. Doing otherwise is arrogant.

  1. For we are still human, after all. 

  2. Arrogant once again? I think so. 

This is Simply Jonathan, a blog written by Jonathan Holst. It's mostly about technical topics (and mainly the Web at that), but an occasional post on clothing, sports, and general personal life topics can be found.

Jonathan Holst is a programmer, language enthusiast, sports fan, and appreciator of good design, living in Copenhagen, Denmark, Europe. He is also someone pretentious enough to call himself the 'author' of a blog. And talk about himself in the third person.