It turns out the world is a really big place and that there aren’t as many “right” answers as everyone would have you believe.
What prompted this little observation?
A few things.
One is the current thread about alright versus all right over on a certain writing forum. When I first started writing I sat down and read The Elements of Style like the good little writer wannabe that I was. And in there S&W say that all right is the proper usage. Now, to me this seemed wrong. I viewed alright as different from all right.
But, wanting to impress others with the care I took with my words, I dutifully changed all my alrights to all rights before submitting my work anywhere.
And then I got over it. Because I decided that language changes over time and that if I was thirty-plus years into living, well read, and thought alright was alright, then by golly, I’d use it the way I thought it should be used. And any grammar nazis that came along and decided that I couldn’t write because of that could, well, ya know.
Spend their time elsewhere.
What offended me about that thread was the vehemence with which people reacted to the use of alright. One said the choice to use alright was a sign of bad editing. (It’s not. It’s a stylistic choice.) Another said anyone who uses alright should be killed.
Really? I mean, really?
But that’s not the only reason I’m in a “why the hell is everyone so opinionated and judgey” mode.
I also recently saw an author make a snarky remark about another author and how they’d take the person’s post more seriously if they hadn’t seen spelling errors in the post.
Um, well, here’s the problem. Either the post was corrected by the time I read it or the person making the snarky remark didn’t realize that not everyone spells English words the way Americans do. I think the word in question was prioritize. Well, in British English that’s spelled prioritise. Many words we Americans spell with a z the Brits spell with an s.
It’s not wrong. It’s just not the way Americans do it. (A hard concept for many of us to grasp.)
(And one of my British readers feel free to correct me if I got that wrong…I found that link above and am almost 99% sure I’ve seen it done regularly, but I too could be screwed up on this.)
Honestly, we all just need to take a moment to check ourselves before we get all high and mighty and start telling others that they’re WRONG. Because the world is not that simple. And it changes all the time. Language evolves constantly. (See how the definition of MILF evolved, for example.)
I’m guilty of judging myself. When I was in New Zealand there was this sign that encouraged students to “Enrol in college.”
What did I do? Realize that I was in another country and that maybe they spelled things differently? Nope. I rolled my eyes at the fact that a college couldn’t even spell the word enroll.
This is also why I rarely worry about how words should be pronounced. When I was younger my mom and brother gave me no end of grief for how I pronounced words that ended in -ag. Like tag or gag.
Well, I’ve now traveled to enough countries and enough parts of the U.S. to know there is no “proper” pronunciation. There’s just regional pronunciation of a word. (Again with a NZ example–get someone from there to pronounce six or cervical sometime.)
So, anyway….This is where I come out on this: I get annoyed when people use their instead of they’re instead of there. And to instead of too. And who’s instead of whose. But beyond the sort of basic words? I say let people slide.
And if you are going to be publicly rude and judgmental, make damned sure before you’re 100% right before you call someone out.
(And, because irony is such a vital part of life, I’m sure that because I sort of kind of called people out for calling people out that I’ve made at least one glaring error in this post worthy of a snarky comment.)