In her recent comment on my post about possessive versus plural (and how even the media and government can’t get it right), Lori mentioned Grammar Snobs are Great Big Meanies: A Guide to Language for Fun and Spite, a book I bought recently.
Wow! To put it simply, my husband, who is dyslexic, doesn’t mind me reading parts aloud. In fact, he thinks it’s hilarious– especially the bit about “10 items or less” versus “10 items or fewer” (or why grammar sticklers won’t shop in the express lane!). And he gets it! This is good stuff, let me tell you!
See, the other books are written mainly to people who revel in good grammar, some of whom are grammar snobs. This book instead reaches out to the person who doesn’t have a good grasp on grammar. It sometimes mocks the stickler grammar snobs, reminding us that there’s more to life than grammar. In the end, each chapter comes around and explains the proper grammar methods in ways that non-grammarians can understand.
As someone with previous experience in grammar snobbery, let me tell you– it’s not nice! When I acted this way I exuded an appearance of superiority, and instead of winning people over with grammar, I alienated them. Grammar snobbery puffs you up, but it doesn’t help anyone else. In fact, it’s much like schoolyard bullying– it makes others feel really small.
Since those days (it was during one year of college), I’ve chosen instead to try to educate and help others understand how grammar works. I’ve found this to be more satisfying, as well as more helpful.
After all, that’s my goal as an editor and proofreader (aka word therapist)– to help others improve their own writing and understanding!
Grammar Snobs are Great Big Meanies: A Guide to Language for Fun and Spite, by June Casagrande
Eats, Shoots & Leaves, by Lynne Truss
The Grammar Lady: How to Mind Your Grammar in Print and in Person, by Mary Newton Bruder