Grammar memes. You see them everywhere. You know what I’m talking about, right? Those images shared on Facebook that show some cringe-worthy picture and then list out the kind of grammar mistakes that have many of us mentally whipping out a red pen. You’ve seen them, the ones that tell us the difference between using they’re, their or there (or your and you’re). There’s even one to tell us how to use the correct punctuation so that we don’t eat grandma. (I see you grammar nerds nodding your head.)
We wear our ability to correct grammar better than others like a badge of honor. I mean, we even create T-shirts to let everyone know how much better our grammar is than their grammar. If we could throw ourselves an amazing grammar parade complete with floats and crowns, we totally would. We’re grammartastic (just ask us).
Not long ago, I had a revelation while emailing with someone who started the correspondence with, “I’m sorry I’m not a writer so my English won’t be that good.” I often get emails from non-writers with some variety of that statement because they assume that I’m editing their emails. (I’m not, by the way.) However, as I exchanged emails with this person, I realized how much of her story must’ve been quieted by others who made her feel bad about her grammar. I thought about how much there is to learn from people who have so much to share and teach, but may not be able to say it, or write it, or share it in a way that lives up to our standards of how things should be said (or spelled).
In my line of work (and also while volunteering), I meet a great deal of people who are considered uneducated by today’s standards. However, it never fails to amaze me how much I learn from these people—history, faith, personal inspiring and motivational stories. Many of these people, who may use the wrong spelling or the wrong word, who may not know the correct tense of a verb to use, are able to weave these amazing stories, sometimes passed down from generation to generation, that leave you on the edge of your seat.
All of this makes me wonder: exactly how much of history is being lost or how much are we failing to learn from others because we can’t get past the fact that they say pitcher when they really mean picture?