Stupid details and the brain farts who point them out.

This is sort of inspired by the thread entitled “Orientate is Not a Word”. I was reading that thread and just kept thinking to myself, “who the fuck cares?” I mean, he knows what the guy means when he says it, so why does it matter?

Think about it, how many times have you been in a serious discussion, a nice little exchange of ideas, when your partner points out some mispronounced word, or some slight misquote, and then smiles smugly as if he’s scored one on you. Now, if he knew the word, then he obviously knew what the word meant. And if he knew the original quote, then he must have known what you meant. So why point it out? It doesn’t help anything and it doesn’t further either side of the argument. In fact, all it does is give him a chance to feel superior.

Okay, so it’s a battle of wits. But does it hurt to have some honor? I can’t believe it bothers you that much when someone uses a double negative. If it does, then it’s not his problem, it’s yours. Why can’t you just let it slide? I mean, there are some times when grammar is important because it makes people easier to understand. But if you can understand what he’s saying, then why quibble over such an inconsequential detail? We put way too much emphasis on what words a person uses, and not enough on what he’s actually saying. When you get right down to it, words are just a way to convey meaning. And if the words convey the correct meaning, then they were used correctly, right?

Then you have people who say “Swear words are the last refuge of a weak mind.” Yeah? Well criticizing someone for their use of a swear word is the last refuge of someone who’s losing an argument.

Or the people who point out that you misspelled something. Why? If he knows that you misspelled it, then he must know which word you’re trying to use. In which case, he must know what you meant. In which case, saying you misspelled something proves nothing. It only proves that you can spell. Which doesn’t mean squat. My uncle is a perfect speller. He’s still wrong. And just because you can spell better than I, it doesn’t make you right.

Or when you’re making an argument about something and someone criticizes one small insignificent detail of your argument in a way that suggests because of this one small false detail, your whole argument isn’t worth shit.

It seems like people always use one of the above strategies when they can’t think of anything better to say. So if you don’t have anything good to say, why not just shut the fuck up? So just run along now, the big boys are trying to talk.

I only have one question …

Can you light a brain fart?

Hey guy, don’t look now, but I think you had some sentence fragments in there…or is that “sentance” fragments?

Often I’ve had the urge to correct people simply because I’m proud that I know the “right” answer. I try awfully hard to fight it, and usually succeed.

I think many people do not try to fight the urge–correcting grammar, usage, syntax, and spelling, when it’s not essential to meaning, seems to me to be simply a way for people to feel good about themselves or better then the other person. Or both.

The fact remains, of course, that the common rules of grammar, et al. are extremely important to communication. Especially in a purely written arena such as this, it is very important that others understand one’s meaning. As such, I don’t think that it’s too awful to get frustrated about artificial words like “orientate.” From context, I assume it to mean “orient,” but it could mean something completely different to the person who created it (however inadvertently).

I agree that it’s silly to complain about minor grammatical or spelling errors, even if they bug the hell out of me (their/they’re, lose/loose, etc). But it’s a different matter when those errors make comprehension difficult (hey, where is Bj0rn these days?).

I never point out to someone during a conversation that I believe that they have used a word in error. That’s just plain pompous and rude (and I consider this Board as conversation, not formal writing). However, other written errors and errors during more formal speaking get under my skin. I heard someone on the national news last night use (again!) the word “heighth”. The word is HEIGHT! With a t-t-t-t-t-t-t-t-t-t-t-! No th’s in height!

I feel better now.

Well, when I am carrying on a conversation, face to face, I don’t correct grammar. But when I’m on the computer, it drives me crazy. Especially on this board. There are typos, I understand. But I am not going to sit idly by and watch people make gross grammar/spelling errors. They drive me crazy.

Ahem. …there are some times when grammar is important because it makes it easier for people to be understood.

I have had several articles published in trade magazines.

I thought I had seen nit-picking by some of the editors of those magazines.

Those nit-picking editors could take advanced degrees in nit-picking by studying some of the SDMB posters nit-picks.

I usually only point it out when someone is trying to point out how superior they are. You know the kind. The “I’m so wonderful, I’m so smart, I know so many quotes and I can use long words” kind of person.

It is so nice to be able to point out that, no, they didn’t know the quote, and maybe they should look up pronounciation and meaning before trying to impress me with their vocabulary.

Otherwise, yes, I do usually overlook a lot of stuff. Usually, I know what you meant, and take what you’re saying for it’s meaning, and don’t get too tied up over the wording.

But gee, if you’re going to say that something is NOT a word, maybe you should look it up first…

Oh, Jack, don’t be silly. Of course you can’t light a brain fart, because there is no such thing as a brain fart. A fart needs a hole to come out of, and the only openings in your skull are your eyes (which would be an eye fart), your ears (which would be ear farts), or your nose (which would be a nose fart). There is also your mouth, but the explosive bad-smelling gas that comes out of there is never termed a “fart”, but is rather referred to as “political commentary”.

I have to confess I did that to Oldscratch in an argument, but I apologized afterward.
Correcting another person’s pronounciation or use of grammar is extremely rude, and instead of showing one’s intel- igence, rather tends to show the opposite. Pedantry is unattractive.
On the other hand, clarity is an important part of communication, and the proper use of grammar and vocabulary help achieve clear understanding.
I’'m paid to be a grammar expert, but I still make typos when I post because I don’t always take the time to proofread my post carefully, so I try to take a casual attitude to errors when I’m off the clock.

Last month we had a 20-minute discussion on whether we wanted to use “obtain,” “get,” or “receive” in a survey question, and the subtle meanings each one brings to the phrase. I work with people who actually enjoy that sort of thing…So keeping that in mind…

I think many people have a raging pet peeve that they find hard to let go. Ricepad, for example, hates split infinitives. I commit them all the time and never notice. However, I abhor apostrophe errors. They keep me up nights!! I have at times carried a permanent red marker in my purse and whipped it out to correct sales banners and menus in public. Seriously. It’s just my quirky oddball thing, and it’s VERY hard to let go.

HOWEVER, I was indoctrinated into the internet norm of letting most errors slide–we assume, in chat and on message boards, that people are speaking informally. And when you type like I do–you can’t help but endorse a policy of leniency on fuck-ups.

When people nitpick, I assume it’s because they feel so strongly about the error they can’t help themselves, OR they are resorting to nitpicking as a way of showing up the other person, to try to demonstrate superiority, etc.

That’s my take on it. And, having outed myself in this way, I guess I can’t indulge in ripping some jackass a new one over his lousy grammar next time I get frustrated, can I?

Word, freak.
But check this out. Sometimes it is necessary to point out someone’s mistakes, just to take them down a notch.
If someone is going to get up on a soapbox, or start lecturing in a thread about how smart they are, and how much they know, and how perfect they are, blah blah blah, then they better have their ducks in a row. Otherwise, they’re going to make a good target instead of a point.

Besides, it just makes you (in general, not you personally) look stupid. Imagine, there you are, ranting and raving and shit, with all kinds of misspelled words, and poor grammar, bad capitalization and shitty punctuation.
In manny(sic) people’s eyes, you will look like a buffoon.

I don’t care how many times anyone uses the excuse “Yeah, but you know what I meant,” it’s still a cheap cop-out excuse. When you don’t pay attention to spelling, you come off like some kind of slack-jawed yokel who’s fresh from the trailer park, all pissed off with no idea why, and with no way to express himself other than saying someting like
“Well, uh-yuh, dam, see, thats bullshit cuz, um, you know what I mean?”

Sometimes people will say “English just isn’t my specialty,” or some other such shit. So what? If you are talking about cold fusion, then you should be able to express yourself fluently.
Unless you’re some kind of autistic savant, or some foreign professor who knows little of the language, you should be able to express yourself in a manner consistent with your brains.

All I’m saying is that most people who are intelligent and/or educated were able to at least get a C in high school English, which is about all you need to be able to form coherent sentences and spell correctly.
If you can walk the walk, you can usually talk the talk.

Anyone who says “Oh, you know what I meant,” is just copping out. When having an argument, I won’t correct anyone, but I will say
“I’m having trouble following you because you keep butchering the language you’re trying-and failing-to use. Try to keep it simple if you can’t do it properly, okay? When you try to sound smart you only sound like a shmuck.”

But I see your point.

This is awesome, I couldn’t have said it better myself. You don’t mind if I borrow this, do you?

You know what? The more I think about this OP the more upset I become.
Fuck you. If you don’t know how to speak like a coherent person, I have every right to correct you. You don’t know how to spell? I will tell you. You don’t know how to properly use a word? I’ll correct you. You don’t understand the difference between there/their/they’re you can damn well bet I’ll point it out.
Why should I sit back and casually watch people butcher the English language because they are too lazy to speak properly?

It’s sick that this is how you look at things. I am not a perfectionist, and I will let things slide, especially in chat, but that attitude is disgusting. It’s a close enough, so let it go? Hmmm, does that apply to everything?
“Well, that is UL, but I know he has a good point. So I won’t point it out”
“Well, those statistics are fucked up, but I know what he’s trying to say, so I won’t find real evidence.”

You may enjoy looking a like a fool in front of people, and therefore, disregard grammar rules and misquote people. But you know what? Most of us do not, and we are bright enough to know what we are talking about before we open our mouths. If you are too lazy to make sure you know what you are talking about, maybe it’s a good thing people take the time to correct you.

It most certainly is NOT my problem. I paid attention during 5th grade English, I learned then not to use a double negative. If you slept through grade school, and you don’t understand that double negatives change the whole meaning of a sentence, then it’s my responsibility to correct you.

Well, lets say that I don’t use no double negative when we talk, and theirfore, I am very easy to understand. Whose to say that your better then me, just because y’all know how to talk?*
You probably know what I’m trying to say, yes? I’m trying to say that if I don’t use double negative you’ll be able to understand me. But that sure as hell isn’t what it looks like, right?

Well, why don’t we just throw the dictionary out completely? Who cares if we misspell words, right? We’ll be able to decipher all the posts eventually. How about we start now? We’ll change “decipher” to “decifer” that way, it’ll be so easy to spell, even lazy people could figure it out.

If you don’t like people correcting you, don’t make mistakes. Double check your spelling at, it takes about 2 seconds. If you want quote somebody, go to, and make sure you have the quote verbatim. Don’t get pissed off at other people for correcting you, just don’t give them any reasons to correct you.

I agree with Pepper. Do it right or don’t do it. I don’t mind when people correct me, that’s how I learn. If I’m using something wrong I damn well want to know about it so I don’t look like an idiot. I still can’t keep “affect” and “effect” straight so I don’t use them, how simple is that? I don’t just randomly use a word because it’s “close enough.” Jeez. Have a little pride in the way you speak and write.

Lexi, I would be honored if you would steal that bit. And I say steal because in the words of some really smart guy “Amateurs borrow, professionals steal.” And you’re anything but an amateur.

And I see your point, it does make you look like a buffoon if you consistently make glaringly bad spelling mistakes. The way I see it, writing and speaking are two very fluid forms of communication, the more fluid the better. Which is to say, when done right they flow very nicely. But when you have too many spelling mistakes and painfully bad grammar, it’s hard to read. It’s like throwing speed bumps into the text, you just keep stumbling over it. So it’s important that your words have a sense of rhythm, that way your point becomes so well phrased and so fluid that it’s almost subliminally creeping into their heads. Making your post easy to read is just being considerate.

And yes, people should put thought and consideration into their posts. But sometimes a post is really well phrased, and spelled, but it just has an error in it. And then some dickwad points it out because that’s his only defense available. But if that’s his only defense, then there’s probably a reason it’s his only defense. Such as, he’s WRONG! But what’s even worse, is when he does have another defense to use, but he uses the spelling one instead/as well, just for an extra jab to the ribs. Or to feel smart. For instance, I was having an argument with Libertarian, when I made the mistake of saying “eachother” rather than “each other”. And “therefor” when what I meant was “therefore”. Neither of these were very big mistakes. And since he was able to correct me, then he obviously knew what I meant. So what was the point?

When you correct someone, it’s just plain insulting. And I try not to insult someone unless they have it coming. Because, like you said, some people need to be taken down a notch. But sometimes correction is just another form of dirty pool. And to these people I say “Do you feel smart now? Good, now shut up. Because you’re still wrong.”

Sometimes I think we spend too much time fighting ignorance, and not enough time fighting the assholes who deserve it the most.

Pepper, VV, the mistake lies in assuming that there’s a right and wrong way to say everything. Especially when everyone has a different idea of right and wrong.

And what’s wrong with “good enough”? I think that’s a perfectly fine goal to shoot for.

I defer to Ralph Waldo Emerson: “Foolish consistencies are the hobgoblins of little minds.”

That’s nice…I’ll let you have the surgeons, pilots and detectives who only aspire to “good enough.” I prefer to have the ones who know what they’re doing.

If you’re good enough at brain surgery to be a brain surgeon, then that sort of implies that he knows what he’s doing, yes? Besides, if you think that posting to this board is as important and dangerous as being a brain surgery, then perhaps you’re taking this just a bit too seriously.

Oh, and VV, I haven’t done anything to deserve your condescending attitude. Take it somewhere else.