Saturday, April 14, 2018

grammar-police mode: when you're assaulted by an idiot

Good Lord. Jeff Hodges blogs about a comment he just received from a presumably female commentator who flaunts her utter inability to write decent English. I had written a comment to be appended to Jeff's blog post, but my comment was longer than 4096 characters, so I'm posting my reaction here. Go read Jeff's post in order to understand the context for my reaction. And my reaction is...

Wow. This comment just drips with illiterate idiocy. A good portion of it is ad hominem garbage, and once you remove that, there isn't much substance left over. My concern, as someone who is now paid to pick on the quality of other people's English, is with the technical sloppiness of the writing. The aversion to commas strikes me as a British tic, given how even educated Brits seem to hate placing commas where they're needed. The lack of apostrophes could be chalked up to one of those cutesy feminine affectations... I dunno.

What I spotted as I struggled through this daffy person's prose:

Yes clearly Eve is the "Hero" though not in Milton's Poem.

• comma after "Yes"
• comma after "clearly"
• comma between "'Hero'" and "though": "the 'Hero,' though"
• lower-case "poem" (Wir sprechen Englisch und nicht Deutsch!)

I am not sure what you actually read to come up with that rather bold assertation.

Snotty tone, but I'll give this sentence a pass.

Milton went so far as to roofie Eve when the Arch Angel was bestowing all the wisdom of past and present on Adam because obviously that bitch couldn't be trusted.

• Does Milton spell "Arch Angel" that way? I thought it was "Archangel."
• I'm tempted to surround "obviously" with commas, but as a matter of style, I'll grudgingly let this go. The modern take is to smooth out the rhythm by eliminating commas, and as this trick is becoming increasingly common, it feels less and less like a "real" sin.
• That said, stylistically speaking, the sentence feels like a run-on. Technically, it could stay as it is, but I'd prefer to break it into shorter sentences.

In fact, from the moment that they "fell" all culpability fell onto Eves shoulders despite being a mutual fault.

• comma after "'fell'"
• apostrophe needed for "Eves" (cutesy feminine affectation? I say this because I'm pretty sure the writer knows an apostrophe goes before the "s" here)

You are supposedly a history/politics buff, bully for you.

• Rewrite: "You are supposed to be a history/politics buff. Bully for you." Don't misuse your fucking commas. It's fascinating and frustrating to see how the writer omits commas where they're needed and adds commas where they aren't. Incredible.

Me too.

• I go back and forth on the whole "comma before 'too'" thing. I'll give this a pass, but I'll chalk it up to British hatred of commas.

I have taken the same plank of classes you have only I went one step further and got my English Degree as well because politics as of late seems to be a fools errand.

• odd use of "plank" (Googling the exact phrase "plank of classes" brings up only one* result: this blog post!)
• comma between "have" and "only" to mark the start of an independent clause
• Why is "degree" capitalized? This is English, not German. We don't normally capitalize common nouns.
• apostrophe in "fools"
• Jeff Hodges has a degree in English literature, dumbass. I guess you didn't bother to read his bio, which is right fucking there on the blog's sidebar.

If you were such a History buff, perhaps you knew (sic "would know") that Milton had woman issues, not marrying until his mid to late 30's and when he did he married a teenager.

• good catch re: tense control
• "history buff"—lower case "h"! ("history" is a generic topic/concept, so as a common noun, it doesn't need capitalization; if, however, we were talking about the specific title of a university course, then we'd definitely capitalize the term)
• "30's" should be "30s"—no apostrophe.
• Put a comma before the phrase "and when he did": use a comma-conjunction to separate independent clauses. True: the locution "when he did" is a dependent clause, but immediately after comes an independent clause such that "when he did + [indep. clause]" together form a complex sentence, all of which must take a comma-conjunction as a separator.
• Put a comma after "when he did"—as I mentioned, this is a complex sentence, and it's one in which the dependent clause comes first, which means there needs to be a comma after the dependent clause. Examples of how this rule works:
If you do that again, I'll kill you. (dependent clause first = comma)
I'll kill you if you do that again. (dependent clause last = no comma)

He carried an over idealized idea of marriage so it lasted a whopping six months.

• should be "over-idealized" (add hyphen, especially as this is a phrasal adjective modifying the noun that comes after it)
• comma between "marriage" and "so" to separate independent clauses

Eventually they reconciled after years and years but my points the same, he was an interesting mess of weirdo who thought marriage was the perfect institution until reality slapped him in the face.

• comma after "Eventually"
• comma after "years and years"
• apostrophe needed in the phrase "my points"
• colon or em dash, not comma, after "the same" (comma splice)
• "interesting mess of weirdo" should be "interesting mess of a weirdo" ("weirdo" is countable)
• This again feels like a breathless run-on.

This reality is rather spelled out into Paridise Lost.

• I'll forgive the spelling error and chalk it up to a brain-fart typo.
• This particular use of "rather," along with the obvious comma hatred, is further evidence the writer is probably British.
• "spelled out in Paradise Lost," not "into"

He vilifies Eve much like he vilified his wife for years.

• Who is vilified for years? Eve or the wife? This is a misplaced modifier.
• "Much as," not "much like": use "as" in front of clauses.

History is an interesting thing, it's all there for you to find, you don’t need to try to read into long winded over glorified text to get into the inferiority complexes of it all.

• comma splice between "thing" and "it's"; replace with semicolon
• second comma splice between "to find" and "you don't need"
• This is definitely a run-on sentence. Chop into smaller bits for sanity's sake.
• Hyphenate "long-winded" and "over-glorified."
• Insert comma between the above two phrasal adjectives because they're functioning as coordinate (not cumulative) adjectives modifying "text."
• The final part of the sentence is sloppily ambiguous. I suspect the writer knew what she was trying to say, but she botched the execution. "Tripping over one's dick," as they say.

I'm saddened, Jeff, that you were assaulted by someone so obtuse and incompetent. She's obviously hilariously unaware of her incompetence, which makes her a great example of the Dunning-Kruger effect.

*On Google, one result has become two because I quoted the full phrase in this post.

ADDENDUM: the woman's Blogger profile places her in California. This doesn't mean she doesn't have a British background and/or Anglophile pretensions.


Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Thanks, Kevin!

Jeffery Hodges

* * *

John Mac said...

Everytime I post on my blog I live in fear your will shred me like this for my inevitable (for me) grammar and puncutation mistakes. Thanks you for your forebearance!

Kevin Kim said...


Over the past few years, I've been trying to discipline myself—to prevent myself from leaping into a friend's comment section to publicly post corrections. Psychologically speaking, it's not all that helpful, and it just makes me look like a dick. So my apologies for publicly harping on "sam-gyeop-sal." Heh.

Kevin Kim said...

Also, John:

I'd never accuse you of suffering from the Dunning-Kruger effect. You have admirable self-awareness.