Sunday, October 29, 2006

Scold me Gently

When, if ever, is it okay to correct someone when they use a word incorrectly? Does it benefit a loved one or a coworker to know the truth, or does it embarrass them too much for it to be worth it?

People take word choice very seriously, and people judge others on the way they speak, period. But the type of person who corrects grammar and/or word usage is rarely the type to carry with it enough tenderness so as not to hurt the incorrect person too much. Not sure if the trait of being the type of person who corrects and the type of person who corrects in a condescending way can ever exist separately.

And you may ask yourself why that person is using a word incorrectly in the first place, because he or she is on a secret mission to speak in a way that is beyond their understanding in order to impress people out there.

So, if you are part of the grammatical elite, do you let these incorrect usages just burn up as they leave the atmosphere, or do you catch them on their way out? Should you drag the puppy by the collar over to the poop it left on the carpet and scold it gently? Are you the better person because you know the truth, certainly not, but chances are you might think so.

1 comment:

  1. I have a simple rule. If the speaker lives outside the United States I correct him or her in a direct way. If the speaker lives in the United States, outside New York City I correct him or her diplomatically. If the speaker lives or works in New York I say nothing. All this relates to the level of neurotic defensiveness I expect.