[Forum game-ish] Grammar Knights Unite!


#1

Dear Stonehearthians (did we ever decide on an official name for ourselves?),

After some deliberation and hesitation on whether or not to make this particular forum game I’ve had in mind, I’ve finally decided to just go ahead with it. So here it is: Grammar Knights Unite!

Unfortunately, because I’m a grammar nazi knight, I could not make that title rhyme.

When I browse the Internet, I am usually struck with an almost irresistable urge to correct everyone’s language. I have thus far been able to cope by taking some deep breaths and focusing on the contents of the text in question when this occurs. However, I thought it would be a nice idea to create a place where people can freely point out mistakes in other posters’ language. And thus, the idea for this game was born.

I expect many visitors will be quite uninterested in this one. If that is the case, just click away I suppose, and feel free to shake your head at me for being silly enough to even propose such a thing.

Rules:

  • There is no set topic of conversation. Within the rules of the forum at large and common sense, of course, the posts can be about whatever topic interests the poster(s).
  • Try to have your language be as correct as you can.
  • Correct language errors wherever you find them.
  • Correct grammar, spelling and punctuation, and quibble over stylistic choices, although those are more subjective and should ultimately be seen as such.
  • You are allowed to use informal language and generally adhere to the linguistic principle of “description over prescription”: ending your clauses in prepositions, using “who” rather than “whom”, etc. These have already fully become accepted into everyday language, and so are entirely fine in this game. However, if you prefer to stick with the more traditional, formal rules, that is not a problem either.
  • Use English as the main language, as it is our lingua franca, but feel free to use whichever dialect of English you like. So, don’t correct a person on the dialect they use (e.g., British English versus American English), but feel free to argue against inconsistent use of dialects if you like.
  • If English is your second language (as it is mine), and/or it may not be as good as that of native/fluent speakers, this may seem like it’s not your type of game. However, you are still free to participate if you so desire. The point of the game is not to make those who make language errors feel inadequate; the point is to teach each other about the rules of the English language while discussing these rules and whatever else we like (again, within reason!), while giving an outlet to grammar-knightly inclinations for those afflicted with such. If you still have some problems with English, that just means there’s more for you to learn. Just do the best you can, that’s all anyone can ask. There is no winning or losing.
  • Most importantly: Be friendly and avoid being confrontative, both in correcting each other’s language, and responding to corrections made to your language, even if you feel these corrections are wrong. I know that sometimes, these sorts of things can be taken personally; however, given that correcting language is the whole point of this game, and people are aware of this coming in, it is my hope that such problems will be kept to a minimum here.

Now, with that out of the way, let’s get into the actual conversation. Of course, at this point I am immediately incapable of coming up with anything to talk about. Uh… who else loves cats?

Okay, how about this? For anyone interested in (Dutch) birds, I’ve created a flashcard list to study their sounds and appearance, as well as (later on) their taxonomy. It uses the SRS (spaced repetition system) known as Anki and is available here. Feedback is, of course, very welcome, both here and on the site in question (where it might help me get the deck noticed more).

Any other birders around?


#2

I’m just going to leave this here, the glorious Stephen Fry:


#3

I raise you a dot dot dot…


#4

The thing I find most annoying is when people use “whom” to try to be smart when they should in fact be saying “who”. I would much rather they just said “who” all the time. Getting it wrong may be bad, but it’s certainly better than getting it wrong whilst trying to sound clever.
Also, “apostrophe’s” when they shouldn’t be there are just as bad.
I agree with your point that “who” instead of “whom” has been accepted into language.


#5

I love Stephen Fry. And I agree for the most part. Although I joked about having to stop myself from correcting people in my original post, in fact I’ve fully outgrown the desire to correct people. Or, more precisely, I stopped doing this when I started studying linguistics (a study I never saw through to the end, incidentally, but still). The above-mentioned “describe, don’t prescribe” approach appealed to me greatly. Until that time, I was always correcting my dad when he said “groter als” (Dutch for “larger than”, except technically it should be “groter dan”). However, I’ve learned that language evolves, and in fact “groter als” is now or otherwise soon will be completely correct. And even if it isn’t, the purpose of language is to communicate, and “groter als” does that job just as well as “groter dan”.

Furthermore, my favorite author by far is Helen DeWitt, who uses various stylistic freedoms and otherwise unconventional approaches to the language she uses in her books, including a strict avoidance of quotation marks anywhere, as well as cutting off sentences midway through, to pick them up again many paragraphs further in, etc.

That said, I already do all that and behave that way all the time. I just thought it would be fun to behave differently sometimes. Because, although I can appreciate the creative use of language, allowing it to develop freely, discovering new ways to use it as we go while never losing sight of the overall purpose of language (again: to communicate)… I find that there is some pleasure in playing with language in another way as well: the way that I seek to play with it in this topic. Trying to do it ‘right’, even if I do recognize that ‘right’ is terribly restrictive most of the time.

And thus, I speak out in defense of (some) pedants. Some of us are in fact still appreciative of language in all its forms like I imagine Stephen Fry is as well.

I hope this clarifies my intent with this forum “game”, if it can indeed be called that. I am aware it certainly won’t be for everyone, but being a bit weird, I just thought it could be fun. In the meantime, I am still watching the remainder of the video you shared, and will get to the Dot Dot Dot one afterward.

That said, @Geoffers747, I think your comma should probably have been a colon or an em dash or something :wink:

That was great! Loved the “beacuase” in particular.

Linguists call this “hypercorrection”. In Dutch, people who are aware that it ‘should’ be “groter dan” rather than *“groter als” sometimes will use “dan” even when it ‘should’ be “als”, like in the positive “even groot als” (“as big as”), making it *“even groot dan”.


#7

Excuse me, please, I need to take a swooning fit.


#8

Completely understandable. Stephen Fry is, in fact, in my inspirational people list on Facebook.


#9

Is this a forum game or a discussion about grammar and Stephen Fry?


#10

#11

So, ummm, Stephen Fry, right?


#12

A theme song for you, Phagocytosis:


#13

@EpicDwarf, I guess it’s a forum game, but it’s a bit of a loose use of that term. It’s not very “gamey”, but it is enjoyable to the right kind of person (of which I am a prime example). Thus far, we’ve been discussing Stephen Fry, but we don’t have to stick to just that. I suggested the topic of birding earlier, but that hasn’t been picked up so much, at least not yet.

@RepeatPan, that is instantly favorited.

@Swift_Cube, although I don’t quite agree with the message and I am a little worried about my public perception on this forum if this keeps up, I must admit I did like that video as well. Pretty funny and very relevant.


#14

Good gracious the comments on there.

Honestly, the elitism in language seems to me to be slowing things down entirely from progressing, with the comments on that video showing evidence to that fact. One such was in response to a comment that pointed out that the use of ‘literally’ was deemed incorrect, when in fact the word was added to the Oxford dictionary recently with literally ( :wink: ) that meaning. Now, it does irk me somewhat that such a useful word has garnered such a contrary alternate definition, but dictionaries do no more than record the use of words and if such a word is being used so commonly in a new context, as it is, then that is its meaning, whether those commenters agree with it or not. It would be like me saying that I don’t like one definition of the word ‘even’ as in ‘to flatten or smoothen’ as opposed to a way of expressing equality “there was an even amount of boys and girls within the class” - it really doesn’t matter that I don’t like it one bit if it is widely used in that context. It’s certainly not the first word to have two contrasting meanings, though I can’t remember a few examples I knew off the top of my head and would be grateful if others could think of any.

Similarly, I don’t understand people’s points that internet culture encourages laziness. I mean yes, the use of language informally should certainly be kept to the internet, but I personally think it should be encouraged in this domain. People seem to look right past one of the biggest points of language. I saw a comment that said “So you want to change a language that has existed for hundreds of years just because you’re too lazy to write things out fully?” to which I thought to myself “Absolutely!” The whole point of a language, avoiding those who write for pleasure (who would and still could write in their pleasant, roundabout ways), is to be able to communicate coherently and efficiently. The faster we can communicate with one another, which is the most common way we use our language, the better. Personally, whilst I prefer to use ‘you’ instead of ‘u’, I would take no issue with the spelling being changed entirely. If everybody understands what it means then where does the issue lie? And if there’s no issue, well why not change it so that we can write faster?

I don’t mind that people wish to write correctly - I do too. I’m not a huge sympathiser for those of whom (I really hope I used that correctly considering the context of the previous posts, it’s certainly how I would speak it aloud) are irked by others’ mistakes and correct them supposedly because of it; it comes across to me as one-upmanship in order to make the person feel inferior and is a very cheap tool to use in an argument, which is a very common use for it. And those who claim it is an OCD of theirs are just annoying people in general quite frankly - OCD is a serious issue and I very much doubt the vast majority of those who say they suffer from it over other people’s spelling are anything more than pedantic.

@Phagocytosis just a note, none of my rant was aimed at you, merely internet culture in general. I am completely fine with the idea of this forum game, I just disagree with the widespread internet idea that people should care and type things out correctly instead of ‘u’ and ‘sum1’; I personally don’t write in such a manner but if others wish to then who am I to say their style of writing is worse - it’s certainly faster. If they are participating in some things, such as writing a CV or participating in this forum game, then it does matter and they should care. But on the internet in general? Why on Earth should they have to care?


#15

Yeah . . . this isn’t a forum game.

This is a discussion on the elitism of the english language and Stephen Fry.


#16

On the contrary, Mr.Dwarf.

I don’t believe elitism is on the table.
The posts have been calm, reasoned, informative and lighthearted. The invocation of Mr. Fry is inevitable as he is a very public lover of language and I would urge a calm interaction with what has been a fun and considered discussion so far.

Also I believe you might be looking for a comma rather than an ellipsis unless there was a large amount that you edited out before typing. (This last was of course a joke :wink: )

As for my two pence; language is going to evolve whether we like it or not, though I have a soft spot for a more anachronistic mode I hesitate at doing a Cnut in this regard. However I think that context is terribly important and the ability to flex ones language style depending on audience and purpose is essential and helps greatly with credibility.


#17

By elitism I meant people being grammar nazis.


#18

Which on a topic such as this is always a remarkable thing :stuck_out_tongue:

I appreciate that this thread will not be for everybody, but as discussion thus far has been fine I will leave it open and see where it ends up.

As I’ve mentioned to you previously, if you don’t wish to be updated on this thread then please click the muted button:


#19

I wasn’t being threatened or annoyed in any way.


#20

…?

I didn’t say you were being…? The muted button can be used for any reason, you don’t have to be threatened or annoyed, you just perhaps don’t want to receive notifications about this thread?


#21

Well, the last time you told me to use the mute button was because of me being annoyed on that last thread.