I’m a grammar snob. I judge people based on their grammar and whether or not their word choices are appropriate for the given situation. When I see “ur” instead of “your” or “you’re,” a little piece of me dies on the inside (unless it’s in a tweet that would otherwise be longer than 140 characters). When I see “there” used as a possessive adjective, I have a minor palpitation and odd compulsion to read an MLA handbook. In short, I have issues where language is concerned.
But Resa, you’re such a hypocrite. Just look at your blog! Inappropriate period placement, incomplete sentences, shit, you even use profanity!
Yep, not to mention that I have theoretical conversations with no one. But take a step back and re-read the first couple lines up there. My judgment of grammar is absolute, but my judgment of language use is contextual. Basically, I’m totally fine with colloquial language in informal settings like blogs or conversations or really anywhere BUT academic writings or business dealings. Even then, my contracts are written in a conversational tone without the pretense of unreadable legal jargon and I think it’s totally acceptable because I’m the boss and I say so.
That said, I do believe there are certain words that should never be used in a paper, proposal, business presentation, or any other important written document, words so colloquial that the grammar police should shame anyone who uses them inappropriately.
One such word is “get” or “got.” Honestly, I think “get” and “got” should be phased out of the English language altogether, but that’s neither here nor there, and really, who am I to say? I use it, too.
Anyway, consider any situation where you use the word “get.” Now find a word to replace it. I’m willing to bet that the meaning of the sentence or expression you are thinking of suddenly became much more clear AND it sounds more intelligent. Don’t believe me?
I get ice cream every Friday after work. I go out for ice cream every Friday after work.
He got a new car. He bought a new car.
Get the ball. Fetch the ball.
get understand the idea.
Now I have to be honest: I hope this is a source of contention.
Yes. I think the reign of anti-intellectualism is sad, horrific and a blow to thousands of years of human progress. I believe the acceptability of colloquialism in academic work is a part of that movement. I know “get” & “got” seem benign to many of you, perhaps even nit picky, but they’re conversational shortcuts. Emphasis on conversational, by the way. Yes, they’re a large part of the vernacular, but trivial though they may seem, they’re words for a specific time and place (one which does not include works which are intended to represent your authority on a matter).
So could you humor me and just give it a try (especially if you’re a student)? And if you’re the defiant type who’s going to try to work the word “get” into your next paper (because you’re writing in active/present tense, so you’re not going to use “got” anyway, right?), tell me why- I’d LOVE to know.