August 01, 2012

Creepy, elitist, and yet clueless...

 ...yup, it's from Harvard.

If you misuse a comma or mix up "your and you're," don't expect to get hired by iFixit's Kyle Wiens. He's not the only stickler—a growing number of employers are adopting a zero tolerance approach to grammar. That means one mistake could cost you the job, even if you're otherwise qualified.


Lively Fark thread is here.


Blogger Laird of Madrona said...

August 1, 2012 at 2:07 PM  
Blogger The Other Front said...

Um, let's call a spade a spade. It's the krauts that like rules, and America's lousy with us.

You can be all left-handed, vegetarian, went to a girls' school and all that shit, but if someone cuts a German in line there is just this genetic thing where we go full Kessellring.

There's about 50 million of us versus about 80 million Germans, but I think we'd still win a straight-up fight because we randomize our behavior so well.

Still like rules though. A lot.

August 1, 2012 at 7:50 PM  
Blogger Laird of Madrona said...

I don't think that's it. When somebody cuts in line, that's willful inconsideration. When somebody breaks a grammar or spelling rule, usually y accident, nobody is actually slighted.

August 1, 2012 at 8:53 PM  
Blogger First Sea Lord said...

What drives me twitterpated is that the grammar Nazis are often simply wrong about grammar; rules in English are simply not as hard and fast as they are often made out to be- the entire history of the language, and its real world use by a bazillion (yes it's a word) living speakers, argues against this.

(Find, for example, the formal rule that allows you to begin a written English sentence "Um,".)

The desire for perfectly consistent rules is a defensible aesthetic interest in particular circumstances, but not a linguistic necessity.

If there is one real rule in English: clarity, force and effectiveness always wins over consistency and rule adherence, and eloquence trumps all.

1/4 of the people in the world speak English, and I will guarantee you that every last one of them uses "they" as a singular pronoun, particularly when they aren't paying attention, and especially when there is some ambiguity about the singular or plural status of "they." (See: that sentence. Is this "all of the people in the world" or "one of the all of the people in the world?")

Many language rules are of course entwined with social class conformity, and that cuts many ways. A brief experimental sojourn to West Oakland or West Virginia or West Hollywood, for that matter, to correct people's perfectly functional grammar in public would likely demonstrate that this sanguine view of the primacy of rules will result in actual blood flow, likely from the nose.

Vastly more than grammar quibbles, I'm offended by terrible, soul-gobbling, bloodless words, like "quirky," "inappropriate," and "branding"... appalling, cement-dust words, absorbing all the moisture out of language and any life nearby and turning the entire sentence into a dense gray paste in the gut.

In my view, the very super best of way more gooder English-using comes from the speaker's control of meaning, clarity, efficiency, and eloquence. Rules that enhance these principles are worth knowing and practicing, and respectful practice means understanding the norms of who you are talking to, but insisting on Germanic rule-conformity when it's not germane (get it?) is punctilious, pedantic, preposterously over-ponderous and pugilistically precious.

August 2, 2012 at 12:11 PM  

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