Language Victories

from Tuesday, March24th of the year2009.

I got a comment on my blog the other night that reads, “never had you down as a grammar fetishist nico. Language yes, but isn’t grammar just a little mundane to complain about?”

Interesting, the distinction here between language and grammar. I am such a grammar fetishist, and being in Iceland, my entire day is made up of planning little grammatical moments which, when added up, equal, for me, language. Today at the wine store I successfully declined the idea of not needing a bag for the bottles of wine versus the box (yes, a box). I bought a swimming card with ten points on it and managed to answer all of the questions regarding did I want it punched right now for me as well as for Nadia and whether or not I needed a receipt and everything turned out great; it was Six Little Grammars strung together by Smiling and Confidence.

Anyway, point being, for me, grammar is the opposite of mundane. It’s filaments, ligatures, bundles that need to be cherished and played with. Fucking up grammar just seems to me like brushing a cat the wrong direction: is anybody happy then?

Speaking of which, via Liner Notes Danny comes this unspeakably weird YouTube Clip:

14 Comments

  • What about when the rules of grammar are played with and/or destroyed? Like in Wilson’s tribute to Glass?

  • well shit. thank you very much. my future life as an old gay cat lady just flashed before my eyes. Is this truly all that I have to look forward to????

  • I enjoy the YouTube tags on that video, as well as Danny’s apparent homage to them.

  • You’re so right about grammar! I love your blog. It cheers me up. What’s more lovable than that?

  • hey, no big deal, it””s just I’m used to you having far more interesting things to say than to complain about an errant apostrophe, which, where I come from is the domain of nerds and pub bores (:
    Just keeping you on your toes old bean.

  • Well, then, Patrick- as- an -old -gay- cat lady, may I be one of those pretty kitties in your future? We can chat about Nico””s love of grammar until the wee hours. . .

  • Nico,

    You may already be aware of these blogs, but if you appreciate the sinews and innards of language then you’ll probably fall quickly in love with Language Log and Language Hat. They’re both highly entertaining sites.

    http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=1266

    http://www.google.com/reader/view/#stream/feed%2Fhttp%3A%2F%2Fwww.languagehat.com%2Findex.rdf

  • Our cat (Tyger Tyger) is NOT a talker, so I’ve actually begun making a huge noisy production of feeding her just in the hopes that she will become super-excited and meow for us. Which works, but also makes me a pathetic gay cat-lady x 1,000.

  • …and the creator of that video just sent me a really, really nice note asking me to take it down, so I’ve done so.

    It will live forever, in our hearts.

  • As evidence of the importance of Nico’s observation, see Exhibit A, the NYT’s removal of said error by completely restructuring the sentence.

    Grammar 4evah.

    Is an “old gay dog lady” not a thing becauze it’s cooler than an “old gay cat lady,” or becauze it’s not a thing? I’m the former for sure. Or zure.

  • for those who weren’t quick on the draw and therefore missed the cat video … what happened in it?

  • @craig: it was a montage of cat owners saying “she’s a talker,” with varying degrees of loving affectation.

  • I am delighted to read your blog but I think I have to disagree about the grammar issue. All cats hate being stroked in the wrong direction but in the current age there just aren’t that many that give a hoot about grammar. I think it’s good to keep in mind that grammar is not static whereas cats will probably always hate being stroked in the wrong direction unless some wacky shit happens to kitty DNA in a some years. blah blah. I think it’s a little great to fuck with grammar. It makes things interesting–it certainly draws my attention when I read a book and find an error or two (over two and I just think that the author is stupid or had a really lazy editor).

  • “Fucking up grammar” is always an interesting concept to deal with. Let me precede this with saying I’m a descriptivist (and fellow grammar fetishist) and that I think that “fucking up grammar” is a concept resulting from prescriptivism and cranky grammar nazis.

    Isn’t it fun to play with language and to toy with innovative structures that represent language change in progress or catch someones ear in a particular way, or represent poetic license? Why is it okay to do this when it is wrong for someone to stop making a distinction between ‘who’ and ‘whom’, or ‘that’ and ‘who’ as a relative pronoun? Both of these things could be considered ‘fucking up grammar’ by different crowds, but only one gains acceptance.

    Just some thoughts. Love the blog— I’m attempting to get my own rolling (on general topics of language, linguistics, programming and local news), but it’s taken some work. Check it out, anyway. 🙂