Are You Pedantic if You Stick to Your Standards?

FB Post

I saw the above statement on Facebook. I posted a reply pointing out the grammatical errors and in response I was accused of being pedantic! Now, to me being pedantic means being excessively concerned with minor details. In consideration I do not think that my criticism was pedantic and I will explain why.

When it comes to forum posts I am not overly concerned with obvious typographical errors. We all make them, often as a result of rushing to respond, and if they do not in any way alter, subvert, or make the meaning of the text difficult to understand then I rarely, if ever, point them out to the person who made them. That said, when participating in a public forum, like Facebook, I do expect a certain standard of written English from other users. The key word here is ‘standard’ because that is the basis of my criticism for the above statement.

Someone went to the trouble of getting a picture and over-typing it with the statement, putting it into a 30 second video, and then publishing it. Quite a bit of effort was involved on one or more person’s part, but they failed to do a spell and grammar check on what they had written.To some people this might seem a little thing, and in the great scheme of things it is, but some people also have standards that they set for themselves and, invariably, measure other people’s work by. Is not that the reason why we usually try our best? Is it really too much to ask for someone to follow the basic rules of the written English language when putting their work into the public domain? In what other areas do we accept less and not comment on it? When a scholar translates a piece of literature from one language into another does the editor tell them not to worry too much about the accuracy? When scientists report their latest discovery do they opt for text-speak because it is quicker than writing in the more formal style of an academic paper?

Clarity is an essential consideration of good communication. If you have something important to say to the rest of the world then the onus is on you, the originator, to achieve clarity. It is not the responsibility of the prospective audience to constantly lower their standards and make allowances for basic mistakes that could be avoided, especially when there are others out there who are constantly trying to raise theirs.

Of course the internet is awash with such pieces as the one at the top of this page and maybe, just maybe, the originator was being a bit clever, perhaps they thought that by getting the grammar wrong they would get more attention? That, however,begs the question, did they want to make a positive impact in helping people achieve their heart’s desire or did they just want 15 seconds of fame?

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