A study by AWeber Communications reported that 28 percent of high school seniors and college students check Facebook before they get out of bed and I am one of them. I find it more interesting to read about other people’s days when I do not want to start my own, so I’m often guilty of the wake ‘n read.
Imagine that, mid-browse, a light goes off in my head and I decide to type out a new status. Say this imaginary status is: “Pop-Tarts for breakfast? There the best!”
This harmless status might grab a handful of “likes” from those same-minded individuals who also can’t start the day without a toasted pastry treat. Clearly this is the best-case scenario.
The worst-case scenario is someone posting a comment under the status writing something along the lines of, “Don’t you mean ‘they’re?'”
If this happened to me, my initial thought would be “Oh no! I’m a journalist; my words are all I have. My sense of self is shattered before my feet have even touched the floor!”
That is, until that same person posts again soon after saying “Sorry, I’m just such a grammar Nazi.”
Whoa. All bets are now off. Instantly I transform into a gigantic eye-rolling monster, stomping around my room. All the shame I feel about my mistake slides away.
Grammar Nazi? Why would anyone call themselves a Nazi anything or associate themselves with history’s worst people?
Would you call yourself Grand Wizard of Grammar? Hopefully not. That’d connote the Ku Klux Klan, a group just as disgusting.
“Grammar Nazi” has been printed on T-shirts, dubbed over the Hitler scene in “Inglorious Bastards,” turned into a meme and is unfortunately often used as a self-descriptor.
The label has become desensitized to a point where “Grammar Nazi” is the accepted, playful way to describe a person voraciously committed to proper language rules.
And it’s all Jerry Seinfeld’s fault.
“Seinfeld,” the seminal 1990s sitcom that gave us idioms like “yada, yada, yada” and “master of your domain” also gave us the infamous character, The Soup Nazi.
Based off real-life vendor Al Yeganeh, The Soup Nazi was an instant classic character with his Stalin-like mustache and forceful command “No soup for you!”
The Soup Nazi was so memorable that the actor portraying him, Larry Thomas, received an Emmy nomination for the role in 1996.
Thomas tours the country in the Seinfeld Food Truck, with “No Soup for You!” emblazoned in large red letters along the side. Thomas still signs autographs, in character, almost 20 years later.
Words often change meanings over time. Whether certain words should ever evolve, and what it means if they do, is unclear.
To me, Nazi should not mean anything other than “senseless murderer.” There are no benefits to letting the word change in meaning.
So if you so-called “Grammar Nazis” are sincerely committed to clear language, throttle it back on the hyperbole. Try “Grammar Enthusiasts” and see if your heart rate doesn’t come down a little.