Pet Peeves Breed Like Rabbits

If peeves can be pets, I have a menagerie.  I don’t keep them in cages, though; I have a free-range peeve menagerie.  A peeve preserve, if you will (not to be confused with peeve preserves, which is delicious on wry toast).

That’s not to say I’m a negative or angry person.  On the contrary; I’m usually pretty positive, appreciative of the proverbial little things, and fairly hard to ruffle.  But, goddamn, I have a lot of pet peeves.

I love words, when they’re used correctly, so most of my pet peeves are related to grammar and spelling.  Now, my grammar isn’t perfect (though my spelling very nearly is).  I’m overly fond of parentheses, ellipses, and asides separated by dashes, for instance.  I also sometimes write sentence fragments (GASP).  But I see these more as stylistic things rather than actual grammar problems, and I’ve never been called on it by anyone who knew a damn thing about the rules, so I’m not too concerned about it. 

I’m actually a lot less annoyed by it than I used to be (in most cases)–and, therefore, less likely to correct people without being asked.  I attribute this partly to learning to prioritize as I’ve matured, and partly to the internet systematically wearing me down through repeated exposure.  It’s like immersion therapy.  Or maybe that numbing thing “they” like to say video games causes in kids. 

People I care about have a much higher irritation threshold when it comes to this stuff, too, I have to admit.  And it’s all a matter of context.  A good friend accidentally saying “your” instead of “you’re” in a private conversation is a lot more acceptable to me than someone who puts it on a sign.  Theoretically, that sign had to be approved–why did no one catch it?

What it comes down to, though, is just a general annoyance that so few people seem to have paid attention in school when this stuff was repeated year after year after year after year after ye…you get the idea.  I can understand not being very good at it–after all, I’m kind of terrible at math–but that’s why schools in the US go over it multiple times.  Barring disability, there’s no excuse for anyone with a high school diploma not to know that an apostrophe is meant to replace missing letters in contractions or show possession, not denote a plural. 

As communication gets more and more text-based, grammar and spelling become more important, not less.  You could be talking to anyone, from anywhere, at any given time.  Clarity of language is what binds us.  It’s your first impression to the world.  Why would you want it to be so terrible?


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