Almost every time I tell a stranger that I’m an English professor they get this look… A look I am fairly certain that preachers also get when they share their occupation. People feel judged about the way they communicate, and the English teacher epitomizes this experience.
However, I would argue that most people I know who study language are some of the least
judgmental. Wait, wait, hear me out!
First, people who study language, especially those who study rhetoric, understand that context and audience matter. So, when I’m talking to someone at a party with a beer in my hand, I am not judging your grammar. When a friend texts me, “When U get here?” I don’t judge their grammar. However, when a student submits a formal research essay – grammar matters. In that context, I’m not just a person out in the world. When I receive an essay, I am teacher whose job is to help students become effective communicators.
Or, prepare them to combat all of the real grammar nazis out there. When I finally left the UP for college, I encountered people who felt the need to correct my grammar. My reading ability outpaced my speaking ability, and I often got things wrong. I felt a deep shame – for my grammar, for my accent, and for the importance we put on speaking well in public.
Like a priest or a minister, I sin too. I am not above making a mistake. So, the next time someone corrects your grammar just paraphrase the Good Book – “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone!”