Are you a grammar snob… The Guardian blames older white people 42



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The guardian has called older, white people grammar snobs in this video designed to provoke discussion and it has us wondering what you think. The clearly modern view of grammar, borne from an era when “creative spelling” has been embraced in schools and social media language pervades is likely to rile some of us who believe that language is a foundation not just for communication but also for respect.

“Grammar snobs are patronising, pretentious and just plain wrong” the video opens with, a baiting statement, inviting you to wonder if you are one.

“Put grammar in front of the word snob and some people are strangely proud”. According to the presenter, “they shouldn’t be”.

We have to ask you today to share your views on this.  Could it be considered an ageist, contemptible view or just a journo looking for a fight? And do you agree or disagree with her?  Is grammar snobbery outdated or a foundation of society?

Rebecca Wilson

Rebecca Wilson is the founder and publisher of Starts at Sixty. The daughter of two baby boomers, she has built the online community for over 60s by listening carefully to the issues and seeking out answers, insights and information for over 60s throughout Australia. Rebecca is an experienced marketer, a trained journalist and has a degree in politics. A mother of 3, she passionately facilitates and leads our over 60s community, bringing the community opinions, needs and interests to the fore and making Starts at Sixty a fun place to be.

  1. Oh for God’s sake. It is the English language which is supposed to be taught in schools. It is a discipline not a ‘near enough is good enough’ lesson. Teachers are too bloody lazy to teach it properly and students are encouraged to be lazy and write it the way it sounds. Yes I am a member of the grammar police and proud of it! Oh and yes I am over the age of 60!

    2 REPLY
    • and I agree with you wholeheartedly! Accepting poor spelling, just fits in with every other aspect of today’s society. Nobody give’s a damn about anything and mistakes are considered just mistakes. No excuses! Teach our children to spell. Language is a wonderful thing when done properly and is the basis of good communication as well as escapism through reading. Correct spelling is the foundation of everything worth learning.

    • Totally agree Rhonda. Teachers these days seem to follow the rule that if it’s nearly right it should be marked correct. I’ll never forget when my youngest was in 6th classs and his teacher gave him a mark for a math problem which he got wrong. When I asked him why, he replied that he nearly got it right had just made a mistake in the workings. I told him that he wasn’t doing my son any favours by doing that . I said that when he goes into the workforce his boss isn’t going to say, it’s OK, you nearly got it right.

  2. OK I’m a snob. I do not care about few or lesser or literally but I do see red when I see or hear :should of, could of, somethink, anythink, seen instead of saw etc. I cringe when I see it on FB especially when written by a teacher and a trainee teacher (both of whom I know).. How do they expect the children to learn? I am always correcting my grandchildren as does their Mother. I am proud to be a snob.

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    • I agree wholeheartedly with Cheryl. So much importance was placed on English lessons when I was a youngster (now 70). In addition to Cheryl’s comments about ‘should of’ ‘would of’, etc I can’t believe that I actually receive letters, sometimes governmental, with the words ‘thank you’ written as one word ‘thankyou’ and ‘a lot’ written as ‘alot’. The worst grammatical errors I have seen are in Sydney newspapers. They are journalists for God’s sake! Dont get me started on blackboard menus! I could write a book on them!

    • Agree totally Cheryl and the other respondents. Why is it considered snobbery to know a few grammar rules? I think this is yet another example to ‘dumb down’ a tradition/custom to the lowest level instead of lifting it or keeping it for the next generation. The French are rightfully proud of their language and always proudly speak it well.

  3. It is an ageist, contemptible, and ignorant view. Grammar is important, all the more now when so many non-English speakers are living here. Do we want our language to be respected and to be vital, or shall we just let it degrade to the level of the kids who can’t spell or even think because all they ever do is text?
    English is the most wonderful language, and while it should be allowed to grow, letting it degrade is not growing.
    If most people who are careful of grammar – and that is NOT being a snob, FFS – are older, it is probably because they were taught grammar, whereas most young people know nothing about it. A sad commentary on our education system.

  4. There are no short-cuts to correct spelling and grammer when it is being taught, what people do after education is up to them. At teaching level all languages have to be learnt correctly. I suggest this person didn’t pay enough attention at high school and consequently belittles those that did.

    2 REPLY
    • Mal

      It would help, when making a point about the correct use of grammar and spelling, if you were actually able to spell the word “grammar” correctly.

      Glass houses and all that.

    • It’s “learned”, not “learnt”. Otherwise I agree with you.

  5. I’m a grammar snob. While learning French I realised just how much English i missed. I wish I could be better and I say to youg people just remember who will give you a job.
    Journalists are always inventing a word to fit onto a news paper head line or column and that is where is stays.
    If ever one has listened to correct English in an old english film it is delight to hear.
    I’ve said my piece .

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    • I love the English language so expressive, I love using descriptive words, often getting a blank look from the younger University educated generation who ask me ‘what does that mean?’. My primary and secondary school English education has stood me in good stead throughout my life. Coincidently, my father’s name was also Roy Parfitt.

  6. Why do you have to be white?? May be you could be black , yellow or pink for that matter!,

  7. I am an old fashioned over 70 white male and definitely believe correct spelling and grammar are important.

  8. Why should we butcher English Other languages have their rules Are they being butchered too?
    American English is a disgrace and too many are using their way s with spelling , pronunciation and grammar. I recall when Victorian schools tried to drop the “u” from words like colour etc (Just got a spellcheck for colour) my year 5 students at the time always put the u in these words I never corrected them. They did question why the change. I cringe when I read many Email/ fb pages

  9. There should not be a problem with using our language correctly and spelling words correctly. That is not being a grammar snob.

  10. There’s so many useless letters in the English language, the logical thing to think is why use what’s not needed.
    It’s probably the last vestige of common sense left for us to embrace.
    Bring on Esperanto.

  11. Isn’t it racist and agist to say older white people are grammar snobs? Doesn’t that accusation, in the same breath, also accuse young and non-white people of grammar ignorance? What a stupid suggestion!

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