Several years ago, I hosted a bridal luncheon for a friend’s daughter, and my hostess gift was a copy of the delightful book I Judge You When You Use Poor Grammar by Sharon Eliza Nichols (St. Martin’s Press, 2009). Nichols created a Facebook group by that same title, and she shares some of the best of the thousands of the group’s photos of misspelled and ungrammatical signs. One photo is of a clearance bin in a store, but it’s marked “clearence.” It reminds me of the new antique store I visited where a door had an arrow pointing to the “Enterance,” which I thought was rather a creative spelling.
Quite a few photos in the book show the public’s propensity for sticking apostrophes where they don’t belong, like the sign that read: “TRAY’S — Please return your tray’s.” Other photos show funny typos, like the “clearance” one or the school banner for “Homecoming Spirt Week,” which made the author say, “Wonder what they’re spirting.”
I do notice grammar errors, and I am constantly tempted to comment on them, but I rarely do because if people want my help, they’ll ask for it. (And some do. Some even pay me for it!) Besides, when you start to feel superior to others, in grammar or in any other sphere, you are practically begging for a takedown, and I have enough opportunities in life to exercise humility without begging for more. So when I saw in a public forum on Facebook last week that someone was making fun of the intellect of Christians and those who are homeschooled, I stared at my computer screen and sat on my hands rather than point out that the writer had in fact misspelled both “Christians” and “homeschooled.” If someone wants to be snarky, getting upbraided by a snarky commenter probably isn’t going to help matters, is it?
Recently I read an old interview with Miss Manners, aka Judith Martin, and she said, “I don’t believe in answering rudeness with rudeness under any circumstances.” I think that’s a great rule to follow, in grammar and in life. Do you agree?