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Save the bad grammar for your texting, please


May 17, 2011

    I am the first to admit I’m not quite perfect. I have hopelessly flat feet, and I can never paint my fingernails without getting polish all over my cuticles.
    That same lack of perfection applies to all areas of my life, including my profession. However, at the end of the day, I am an editor. You say toe-may-toe, I say toe-mah-toe; you say Grammar Nazi, I say Defender of the English Language.
    I’m not bothered when my Dad says that he’s “playing Facebook” or that he ordered a “Zackrageous salad” (translation: Zensation salad) from Zaxby’s. His Daddy-isms are almost endearing; I usually give them a red-pen pass.
    What annoys me most are those simple, two- and three-letter words and colloquialisms that people who have been speaking English for 50 years continue to misuse. Believe it or not, back in grade school, Mrs. ABC taught you the difference between to and too; they’re, there and their; you’re and your; and than and then. She made flashcards and sang songs and wore that piece of chalk thin in an attempt to get it through her students’ thick skulls that it’s is a contraction for “it is” or “it has” and is completely different from the possessive its.
    Apparently, Mrs. ABC didn’t make much of an impression. I bet she’s rolling over in her grave.
    I think Facebook and texting have had a lot to do with why our beautiful yet maddeningly complicated mother tongue has all but gone down the toilet. Slanguage and cyberspeak have become so intertwined with correct grammar that people can’t tell the difference anymore — or worse, they just don’t care. They even boast that they “could care less” about something as stupid as the difference between affect and effect — but what they really mean is that they couldn’t care less.
    But I care. I cringe when a friend tells me in a philosophical attempt at good advice that I should “nip it in the butt” or that it’s a “doggy dog world.”
    I've been tempted to correct these grammar abusers in the past: It’s barbed wire, not bobwire;  that piece of furniture is a chest of drawers, not a chester drawers;  and you cannot take someone "for granite," and those are not "hunger pains" you're feeling.    
    It's not that I think I'm smarter than them. I really don't.
    I just can't help that this is what I've been called to do, and I take it very seriously. If my life's purpose is to defend the English language until my death, then at least I'll die with a smile on my face, certain there will be no typos on my gravestone.
    Linsay Cheney is the editor of Connect Statesboro.

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