Monday, 8 October 2007

Living Politely

The other day, after a lovely elliptical machine session, I was walking home and I passed a homeless man on 14th Street stretching out for the night; propped up next to him was a cardboard sign reading "Live Politely". At the risk of sounding even nerdier than I already do, I thought that I definitely agreed with him, that we should all be more polite, especially nasty border officials. After all, courtesy is the jelly that makes the pb&j swallowable, right? And I patted myself on the back for being, in my own opinion, generally quite polite.

So imagine my shock and dismay today on the elliptical machine, happily listening to a Grammar Girl podcast, when Mr. Manners came on to instruct listeners about the most polite way to correct someone else's grammar. Mr. Manners emphasized that you should make sure that the person whose grammar you are correcting would "welcome and appreciate the correction". This, I must confess, is something I am very, very guilty of neglecting.

It's not that I'm some sort of expert; in fact, I'm not even sure if I placed the period correctly in the penultimate sentence of the above paragraph and until I read it over I didn't notice an extremely egregious error I'd made regarding the proper spelling of "whose" in this context! (Swallowable, on the other hand, I looked up: it's correct.) And while bad spelling irks me to no end (especially if the person writing to me is writing in THEIR native language which is not MY native language), small grammar mistakes and pronunciation idiosyncrasies really don't. So why do I keep correcting? Have you guys noticed that about me? Does it bother you like it bothers another Norwegian I know?

Maybe because it makes me feel smart; maybe also because I feel like I would wish to be corrected if someone knew my wording to be incorrect. But maybe I should learn to respect other people's wishes to live in ignorance, I mean, not be corrected. It's important, after all, to live politely, and not step on too many unnecessary toes.

(PS: Sofie, a couple of weekends I lost a game of Scrabble drastically!)


Sofie said...

shane, i think you should take pride in being able to correct people's grammar. i agree with mr podcast guy that the person you correct should be open for corrections, but you never really know if they will be, so it's better to take the chance, don't you think?

feel free to correct my grammar/spelling any time. i especially need help on my punctuation. eats shoots and leaves!

i do hate it when someone english make grave errors, like the other day, an english guy in my class did a power point presentation about his project, and he spelled "model" as "modle"!!!

that is grave and annoying.

Sofie said...

"when someone english make grave errors"


Shane said...

oh i laughed so hard and made a scene in the computer lab! hey sofie, "what did your mom brought you?"

Sofie said...

she bring me lots of love and chocolate