White People and Grammar
Stuff White People Like has finally added grammar to its exhaustive catalog of priveleged liberal shibboleths. Unfortunately they’ve completely missed the point of why white people love grammar.
White people love grammar because they enhabit a world in which there is no one defining attribute separating them from what the site calls ‘the bad kind of white people’. They are a completely self-defined class of people That means that they must gird their society with mental bulkheads and lock themselves behind them. Good grammar is the last vestige of the old education system which once taught proper ways to do a lot of things. It’s the last bastion of objective truth in a completely relativistic world, something that people can say for sure is right when the rest of it all is up for interpretation. You can dress however you want, eat whatever you want, act however you want despite your education or income level but having good grammar is perceived to the the last true tip-off of where you stand in society.
That’s why I’ve always sensed a certain desperate social-climbiness in grammar ghouls who troll for semicolons and misplaced apostrophes. It’s the patina of education that bespeaks true ignorance. I liken it to my Korean students who quibble about the pronunciation of the word ‘the’ (thuh or thee?) but can’t actually speak English. This is likely why there are so many urban legends about language, because there is a demand for factoids about language. Here’s a list of some of the stupidest factoids about grammar and langauge that make the people who cite them feel great and the victims feel abashed. The best one, and the most ridiculous in my estimation, is the claim that the word ‘hopefully’ is ungrammatical in sentences like ‘Hopefully John’s having a good time,’ because it means ‘full of hope’, and the intention of the sentence isn’t to imply that John is full of hope.
To sum up, white people (ie human beings) would like to appear as smart as they possibly can.