Said a table companion as he complained about the use of a word in a television production. And then spent five minutes telling us what should have been said.
It is at times like this that you long for a sword-cane. Whether you plunge it into the other person or yourself is a decision for the moment, but both ideas are equally attractive.
I can speak and write well, when I put my mind to it. I can spout the buzz-phrases of the crowd when I put my mindless to it. I can make foolish mistakes in spelling, punctuation, and grammar at any point in time…and sometimes am grateful to be pulled up and corrected.
That is what the WordPress system does for me – my worst typos are underlined in red to alert me. The irony of it is, when I typed that last sentence, the word ” WordPress ” came up underlined…As it is, I would be grateful if the program would put similar flags on missed spaces and bad punctuation. I need several proof readings to weed these out.
On the other hand, having someone interrupt you during general conversation or a television play with demands that your language be corrected is nothing more than social abuse. It may seem to be intellectual, but it is really just posturing and bullying.
If some particular point in general conversation is obscured by bad word choice or phrasing, it can be corrected with a polite question. That same politeness can steer a conversation away from hearsay and bigotry and make the occasion much happier. It doesn’t need to be a lecture delivered from either pulpit or footpath.
Pedant is not a compliment, nor is it an achievement.
Note: My thanks to the memory of Walt Kelly for his illustration of Deacon Mushrat. Rowrbazzle.