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I got into a facebook argument with someone who didn't understand basic english. I don't know that he was religious, but he didn't understand that proper english is "a person doesn't" and "people don't." He though "a person don't" was correct. I don't believe in coddling people like that, so I told him he was moron. I'm sure other people here have somewhat similar experiences. The frustration I felt caused my brain to burn and my skin to crawl. I don't know who else to share this experience with. I was shaken by it.

anonymous 7 Jan 23

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38 comments

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16

If you are going to criticize others, you should be careful not to make so many English mistakes yourself.

15

I'm a bit of a grammar stickler. I enjoy language and linguistics. There were a couple of courses I took at college in 2012-2013 that really changed my mind about some long held beliefs, though. Maybe this might help ease your frustration...

When you say "basic English" you're talking about "Standard English" or "General English." There are "mistakes" one can make in standard English that are called "status marking errors." That means, that when a listener hears them, or sees them in writing, he or she makes an immediate judgement about the socio-economic status of the speaker or writer. For example, I cringe whenever I see someone write your when they mean you're. It's an example of actually not understanding standard English. And Standard English is called standard English because there is a set of grammar and usage rules that is widely accepted as "correct." It's what we're taught in school, and pretty much everything that is published in English follows it. But...

There are legitimate vernaculars that, while not standard English, are not wrong. There are a ton in British English - think of Cockney with all that rhyming slang. What makes a vernacular different from a status marking error is whether or not the use is following its own consistent internal grammar. African American Vernacular English is an example. AAVE is not standard English, yet it is also not considered wrong by linguists. As a teacher, I'd make the corrections to standard English, but I'd fall short of passing judgement on the speaker or writer. I do think that American kids need to learn standard English, but outside the classroom or formal writing, vernaculars are fine. Many speakers of vernaculars can "code-switch" between the vernacular and the Standard.

I don't know if the person you were communicating with was making a status marking error (which would be wrong) or was writing in his vernacular (which is OK).

It was a fascinating couple of courses, and it's impossible to condense it all down to a couple of paragraphs. But these courses really shook me out of some long-held beliefs I had about "proper" English.

I'm including a short video by prominent linguist John McWhorter. I listen to his linguistics podcast, and his books and research were featured in the courses I took.

Thanks for you response and link, it was very helpful information. Language is fascinating!

^^ Perfect example of why I love this forum. Thank you for your carefully crafted, and informative, response.

That was awesome!

@SilverDollarJedi, @CC_David, @BackToReality, @BlueWave, If you want some good nerdy linguistic fun, check out McWhorter's podcast produced by Slate called Lexicon Valley. He took over the show a couple of years ago and does a great job, but I kinda miss the two guys he replaced. They were funny. You might find older episodes on iTunes? The new episodes are great too. Here's a link to the official page: [slate.com]

Also, I wanted to share a video I came across recently that changed how I feel about hearing people say "axe" when they mean "ask." That has really grated me my ENTIRE LIFE! Now, I feel much better about it.

@carlyhorton I just subscribed. Thanks. Ask v. aks is hard for me to hear. I rarely hear it pronounced "ask" where I live. My boss mispronounced asterisk yesterday. He said asteriks. He is one who appreciates being corrected, like me.

Thanks so much for the awesome information, @carlyhorton!

It's time I got over my "axe" hangup. A good friend of my daughter (from South Carolina) uses "axe", and I spent their high school years hearing her say things like, "I axed Mr Corbin about that." to which my daughter would always retort, "So he's dead?" I'm sending them both the link to this video as I write. Thank you!

9

i could reprimand you on the typo you made - but how petty can you get? maybe this is news to you, yet the global percentage of people who's native (or first) language is english is a mere 5%. it is my second lingo, & i have to be patient & forgiving with born & bred aussies & their sloppily hair-raising orthography ๐Ÿ˜€ so now you've worked yourself into a lather, hurting yourself. my advice: be kind & you will experience kindness.

The person who posted this seems very unkind. Iโ€™m glad you said so. Who makes fun of people who are ESL? Learning a foreign language is difficult. Especially English. They could at least have a convo. Try doing it in their language.

8

You were โ€˜shakenโ€™ by a strangerโ€™s bad English? Girl you need to loosen up. Iโ€™m assuming he was a second language learner? Also that his religion or lack of was inconsequential, not every discussion on here is about religion, right? As a teacher, 90% of my middle school science students speak Spanish as their main language, and 100% of my online ELL class students speak Chinese. Iโ€™m always impressed when they attempt to use English rules of grammar even when they arenโ€™t sure of the tenses... for example, โ€œYesterday I goed to school, tomorrow I goes to camping.โ€ They are aware of the need for past and future tense, but havenโ€™t been taught the proper words for them just yet. One of the main focuses of the online program I teach to kids in China is how to conjugate verbs based on singular or plural subject nouns, which is your example... not as easy as it might seem to those of us that learned it conversationally throughout our lives.

Precisely, Jenelle! ๐Ÿ™‚

6

A person does not say a person do not
meh, I could not care less
English is a pretty crazy language

5

I don't be wanting to tells you nothing, but you does gots to be lightening up there. Ain't every persons what gots magnifical inglish like you does, honey.

Dang me, I done forgotted: Do you understand the meaning of ad hominem?

๐Ÿ˜€

5

"People in glass houses......"
Your post above is loaded with semantic inaccuracies, what I hope are typos and grammatical errors, and I feel no guilt in saying this since you don't believe in coddling people.Your logic in assuming that a lack of understanding of the niceties of English grammar means someone is a moron is also fallacious. And as for what their religious beliefs have to do with any of it totally baffles me.

Kimba Level 7 Jan 24, 2018
5

Many of the "Trumpites" I've encountered are from a rural southern background and use poor grammar because that's part of their culture. I used to substitute teach in two eastern KY counties during the 1990s, and told the kids that I was teaching them a "second language" called "Standard English."
One high school boy said that everyone talked like he did, so what did it matter? I said that it was OK in this county, but what happens later when he goes to Louisville and meets a hot super model and tries to make a move by saying, "I ain't never seen nobody as purty as you!" She'll think you're a hillbilly who lives in a trailer.
He said, "I AM a hillbilly who lives in a trailer!" but he he took my point and began trying to speak Standard English, just in case, LOL!

5

I'm dyslexic so things like this for me are difficult. I use an app called Grammarly and I still mess up as have you." He though" even I can notice or my app does. people in greenhouses shouldn't throw stones. if your going to chew someone out for writing mistakes you really should be perfect yourself. it's like eating a burger while telling someone it's cruel to eat steak. I wouldn't be bothered with spelling over something so important as a great conversation and more.

exactly my thinking - beautiful ... <3

thank you

5

I am reminded of the company business meeting between the accountant, the production manager, the storekeeper/ order expediter and the head salesman.
The storekeeper started by reporting that the stores were empty. The head salesman and accountant agreed they had huge problems with the Texas salesman not submitting reports properly written including his weekly expenses list, the production manager pointed out production was up 100% over the previous month so how could the store be empty? The storekeeper suddenly smacked his forehead exclaiming "it's that ignorant bastard in Texas he's sold twelve month's worth in one month".
Moral "it's what really matters and happens that is important. Sales orders that are fulfilled are precious, grammatically and correctly spelt expense reports do not pay the owner's profit dividends nor do hurt or affronted egos. Life is not a box of chocolates nor a school english examination".
And with any luck there is at least one mistake in what I have written. ๐Ÿ™‚

4

The only time it matters is if you truly can't understand the person, and need clarification to complete the communication successfully. Or if you're their parent, teacher, editor, or boss.

If you understand what they're trying to say (and you're not parent/teacher/editor/boss) and you slag on them anyway, you're just being a jerk for the sake of jerkiness. Not cool.

It would be (a little) like if I tried to order fast food and the crew member at the counter screamed at me for having a wrinkly shirt. Inappropriate to the task at hand.

Plus, you hurt your own cause by supporting an impression that people with good language skills are stuck-up a-holes. Not a ringing endorsement for taking up the study...

4

I think what you did was a form of ad hominem attack during the course of a discussion/argument.

4

Unfortunately, this is also happening with traditional publications too, since in the new era of digital publishing, copy editors and proofreaders have become extinct.

Worked at a Newspaper once upon a time - this fact makes me crazy! (Also a grammar Nazi who usually keeps it under control).

3

He was ESL and trying his best. Youโ€™re deplorable. Letโ€™s put you in a foreign country with a different alphabet and see how much of a grammar nazi youโ€™d be. This degraded from a religious discussion to xenophobia.

3

You are missing a letter.

Also, English should be capitalized.

Also, Facebook should be capitalized.

Also, she ended a sentence with a preposition,

๐Ÿ˜‰

One definitely should not be so harsh and critical.

2

I teach English online, so I hear that sort of stuff a lot. It's because non English speakers hear this on TV and in movies, and they think it's right. "A person don't know what to do already" - yes, lovely, thank you US TV. "Did you do it yet?" That's another one. Who needs the Present Perfect tense anyway;

Or a period? ๐Ÿ˜‰

2

If you are fastidious about correct use of english language, you are not the only one. I embrace much of this new electronic culture, was slow to use a mobile, and still use a 'dumb phone', not a smart phone and relish opportunity to send misspelt texts back corrected, as I don't ring people very often. I am probably one of the few letter writers left in this age of texts and emails and enjoy getting a fountain pen out, filling it with ink and buying stamps at the post office. Recipients usually express delight.

2

Just tell someone like that you are a grammar Nazi and give them the correct information. Either way they probably won't respond very well. (I'm also a Grammar Nazi but I usually rein it in - however will go back and edit my own post when I see a glaring error later). Don't tell anyone that!

I do it EACH AND EVERY TIME! LOL!!! ๐Ÿ™‚ Except on Twitter. There is no edit button.
Occasionally I will delete and re-post though, depending on how bad the typo is.

1

The one that always grated most to me was an inscription on a headstone. It started with "Your a star." I know the stonemasons get you to proofread and sign off on these things, so it must have been in the original text.

Oh and one that made me laugh, on the back of a van: "Your behind the best in the business." I'm not sure what business they think my behind is in, but obviously they rate it highly.

1

I'm constantly having to explain how English works to native speakers and writers. Most people do not have a firm command over the English language despite the internet existing.

1

I'm with ya, girl. People here can attest I have a very low tolerance for that sort of thing.

1

Every day vernacular bleeds through at times into peoples writings. I try to over look it as much as possible.
Btw you do realize you used "don't" instead of "didn't", yes?

Also, now that I think about it, she wrote "who didn't understand basic english." So he "didn't understand basic english" at the time of the argument, but perhaps he does now? LOL!

@BlueWave
Yes indeed, also she should have used either "Whom" or "He" then making that statement..

@BlueWave
Yes indeed, also she should have used either "Whom" or "He" when making that statement..

1

I've have an unfortunate tendency to be a Grammar Nazi, one that I am attempting to curb and for which I need to make some apologies on this site. There are times and places for Grammar Nazism, I suppose, but you need to pick and choose your battles, and be kind and about it. Mistakes in English are usually just that-MISTAKES. Should you feel the need to scream, I would suggest that you do so in the privacy of your home or office. Calling someone a moron doesn't help him or you. You could better serve the both of you by giving him the name of a grammar checker (grammarly is excellent) or a BOOK on grammar (The Elements Of Style by Strunk&White is wonderful and affordable!).

1

I'm not that great with grammar, but I do attempt to get it as correct as possible. The things that kill me are the errors that make it hard to even tell what the person is trying to say. Things like using "to", when it should be "too", or leaving out punctuation.

1

I have always been a stickler for a good grammar. If you try to present an argument, use proper grammar. If a female is hitting on me and talks in slang an abbreviated words and can't spell, it's definitely a no go. No one likes to be a grammar Nazi, but sometimes you just have to put them in their place.

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