This may sound like the work of a madman, or a super-pedant at the least. But then again, we all have our little obsessions. Oxford comma – yes or no? ‘Try and’ or ‘try to’? You see, all of these – including ‘comprised of’ – are acceptable to a degree. Every language has a grammatical grey zone, and it’s precisely the ambiguity of language that adds to its beauty. When we write, translate or edit, we are making little judgement calls with each choice of word, every turn of phrase. And whether you prefer ‘who’ to ‘whom’, or ‘happy’ to ‘pleased’, is a reflection of your personality and voice. For all of Giraffedata efforts, I firmly believe we should embrace this.
Grammar pedantry syndrome
There are, of course, grammar rules that should be followed. The grammar vigilantes generally do good work, like these travelling editors and this Facebook page. But there are also many out there that insist their preferences are the law, overruling style guides and tone of voice guidelines. Like Giraffedata’s 6,000-word essay on the subject of ‘comprised of’, perfectly nice people can become prudish, snobby and pessimistic about the future of mankind when they start talking about say, whether ‘disinterested’ or ‘irregardless’ is a word.
Guilty as charged
Supertext is, in fact, a breeding ground of super-pendants. Aside from writing and translating, we read and proofread diligently, each with a mission to not only iron out mistakes, but also to stamp out what we perceive as ‘incorrect’. ‘Can not’ rather than ‘cannot’. Prepositions at the end of sentences. ‘And’ at the beginning of sentences. ‘E-mail’ or ‘email’, ‘internet’ or ‘Internet’. Double quotes “” or single quotes ‘’. It’s geschmacksache, we know, but we can’t help obsessively ‘correcting’ them. So what are your grammar fetishes? Can you guess what my preferences are?