Hello, my name is Tova, and I'm a grammar snob.
As you may know, I have a degree in writing. That means that I took quite a few classes in editing and grammar. It also means that I'm a tad bit particular about proper use of the English language. I even have a favorite punctuation mark. (I'm not joking; I love semicolons.) Around my office, I'm known as the Comma Queen. Any time we're publishing a new piece of informational literature, it's given to me first, and inevitably, I cross out 75 commas and then insert 75 more in different places. (One of my coworkers recently sent me the following email, which I am not making up, after he asked me to proofread something for him: "Excellent. You're like a grammar nazi. I love it!") It's a sickness. (In college, I got in an argument with a girl who was mad that I was dating her best friend's ex-boyfriend, and she called me "grammar b*tch." True story.)
Does this mean that everything I write is always 100% grammatically correct? Heck, no. I may be a grammar snob, but I'm not infallible. Does this mean that I judge you if you use commas or semicolons incorrectly? Definitely not. Does it mean that I judge people who speak using grammar that even a third grader knows is incorrect? Absolutely (unless the speaker is in second grade).
On Saturday, I overheard two examples of this, and I was so annoyed that I subjected Mr. Darling to a ten-minute-long tirade about how people sound like morons when they intentionally speak incorrectly. First, I was in line to exchange something at Target, and the woman in front of me was mad because she was trying to return some things without a receipt, and the store wouldn't take them back. In a fit of anger, she shouted, "Look! I brung you two things. I brung you this game, and I brung you this sweater. I want my money back for the things I brung!" I wanted to scream, "BROUGHT! You brought back two things!" But I didn't, because the woman was really mad and also a lot bigger than me. Later, Mr. Darling and I went to the movies, and the woman in front of us in the ticket line asked her friend, "Was you going to get popcorn before the movie started?" And again, I bit my tongue.
Here's the thing: punctuation can be difficult, but basic grammar is something that you can learn by watching Sesame Street. To learn all of the rules of punctuation, you need to go to school. To learn to use "brought" instead of "brung," you can just watch a few episodes of Mr. Roger's Neighborhood, The Office, or Gossip Girl. You can also learn proper grammar by reading People magazine or by listening to the radio. So when people speak incorrectly, it's really just sheer laziness, as far as I'm concerned. And so it really, really annoys me when people choose not to use proper English. Am I a jerk? Perhaps. But why do people insist upon speaking incorrectly when it's every bit as easy to use proper grammar? Your thoughts?