In defense of grammarianism

This MetaTalk thread illustrates something I’ve often noticed: people can be terribly defensive about their grammar. And their spelling, too. I’ve seen many people get very huffy when either is corrected, which puzzles me: if you know you’ve got it wrong — and many people do when they follow their misspelled word with “(sp)” — then why the surly behaviour when someone shows you the right way?

For a professional grammarian like me, this is puzzling. If you simply don’t care, then don’t care — by which I mean don’t react, either. But I think it’s because most people simply don’t like being corrected, and take grammar and spelling corrections as an implicit critique of their intelligence, viz., if you don’t know it’s from its, you’re dumb.

Well, you’re not. While I learned it’s/its in the fourth grade, it took me until university to figure out colons and semicolons. And I had to do it on the fly; I wasn’t taught. We have to learn sooner or later, and later is better than never. I don’t mind ignorance — that can be dealt with — but defiant, stubborn ignorance pisses me off. If I’m correcting your grammar, I’m trying to help you, not rub your nose in it.