British grammar nazis

GrammerDisclaimer: the adjacent — and colored meaningfully yellow — graphic piffle is not intended to mean the Union Jack proper. It is the British Grammar Nazis logo on Facebook.

British grammar nazis header




The logo dubious pulchritude may be seen in its full form on the right here, also with a click.


Much has been written about WWII. Evidently, mere gathering orthography and other detail does not make one capable of text interpretation. The Daily Mash got misread, same as Thomas Weber: some guys focus on the words “rhetoric” and “confirmed” too much. 


Without going into matters like the meaning of life, or the spoken lore on WWII and British losses — invaluable for those hard of reading — let me think text, statistics, and implications.

Daily mash

Daily Mash

British grammar nazis shares

GN (Grammar Nazis) Facebook



The Daily Mash article appears full size, when clicked.



The GN (Grammar Nazis) reactions page does the same. Should there be visiting GNs,   I promise a brief primer on irony after this indispensable piece of advice on living with them on the same planet.



The site has about 50 thousand “likes”. Taking the British population alone, that would make about 50 thousand functionally illiterate, among about 63 million people. Some might say it is not so bad, it is not even one percent. Still, you’d better think literacy, going to the UK: the guys wouldn’t have had the UK flag their capriccio, if it were not permitted. More, such odd types tend to occupy big towns.



Try for a plain passport photo, that is, without brooches, scarves, ties, anything you do not always carry. The piffle shows the guys’ attention to picture specifics. ;)


Remember to wave your hand, getting a taxi. It is a simple, therefore legible gesture. Try to get a map with statues and other tourist attractions in large icons. It is better to take a walk from the National Museum than end up the Piccadilly, owing to small print. ;)


In hotels, always tick the boxes. Ask for those straight, should you be provided with a form without boxes to tick. ;)


Mailing letters, get the recorded: they have ID strips. Seeking directions, approach people with newspapers: there are odds they can read them. Never ever leave your books or papers open: they might be taken for other utilities. ;)


Now, the primer on irony. The basics are in the affirmative and the negative. You do not take them for a yes or no merely. Let me quote the Mash:


In no way are any of these people vain, arsey pedants.


A GN, do not take this for a refutation, as Wikipedia explains.


Naturally, life cannot be about statements only. Let me continue with the Mash.


The way they selflessly dedicate themselves to correct punctuation, for example by pointing out to the staff of a chip shop why the term ‘chip’s’ is a sloppy obfuscation, confirms they are bold and righteous individuals.


Apply antonymy, to grasp the gist. The rest becomes plain with the close synonymy nobody would use for a complimentary note.


Laying all that out in detail to a GN looks discouragingly big a task, hence the handful of thoughts and the primary color, yellow (adjective, reference 3).


Grammar Nazis evidently do not have the courage to admit that picking on people’s works has no chance to bring in anything creative, sophisticated. They do not offer own blogs or websites, especially with serious language work, for evaluation.

Apples grow on noses: two languages – two minds?

Two minds_Speaking a second language can change everything from problem-solving skills to personality. It is almost as if you are two people, says Catherine de Lange.


We can read “Mon espirit paratage — My two minds”, in The New Scientist of May 5th, 2012. Ms. de Lange compares monolingual and bilingual children. Washington Post has her article.


Ms. De Lange reports she tested children on syntax. Both monolinguals and bilinguals could see the mistake in phrases such as “apples growed on trees”, but differences arose when they considered nonsensical sentences such as “apples grow on noses”. The monolinguals, flummoxed by the silliness of the phrase, incorrectly reported an error, whereas the bilinguals gave the right answer, says Ms. de Lange. 



Picture 1. Is there even one nose in the picture, if we do not know what noses count?

Monolingual or multilingual, children get fairy tales. It does not matter, if the kid speaks one or more languages. It it important that the child comprehends the language in which he or she can hear, there was a fairy land, a long time ago, where apples grew on noses.



Picture 2. Do apples grow square, if we have Big Apple Corners?



No matter if in one or many languages ― but dependent on pragmatics ― we could or could not count any noses in picture 1; the Big Apple Corner in picture 2 only might have apples. 




Talking the science, the task was deictically misconstrued, if the account is accurate. The children evidently did not know if they were to tell the syntax or the pragmatics. Further, we can doubt nonsense for a good test on syntax.



Ms. de Lange says she speaks English and French. All languages have spellings. What we write as bread in English is un pain in French.


To a boy as in the picture below, eating bread, a test to neglect semantics might be un mal a l’oreille, seriously sick, you know. This would influence results, as a test during which you would not say a word could be only awfully awkward. You cannot expect to find many boys ― as well as girls ― who do not eat bread, never went shopping with parents or carers, and have no idea how to spell the word.


I believe there is such a “language interface” among many languages. Either the spoken or the written forms happen to have some similarity. It is a natural reaction to distance oneself from ambiguities and “surf” the language form, which seems to be the case with Ms. de Lange results. Multilingual persons are well able to be pragmatic in language use. Monolingual persons are well capable of abstract thinking. The “surfing” is not a linguistic developmental stage: it is enough you are showed how to do this and you can, whether you speak one language or many.


Boy eating bread


To work on syntax, we can use virtual or invented words ― regardless of age. Students might not show if they are monolingual or multilingual, on task.


Phimos can bimo.

A car rolls, a doll dances, a troll hops, and a ball bounces. Toys are things. They can be phimos. Every phimo can bimo. Before long, a kid may tell easy if we are correct saying, The phimo bimo now. :)


Not only syntax, also speaking rewards a degree of autonomy. If we make our virtual words with speech sounds which learners need to exercise, we avoid the flummoxing that verbal associations might bring.

[th] is the sound in mother;

[th] is the sound in father

[th] is the sound in brother;

[th] is the sound in … pother ;)

Virtual words do not have meaning. They can help exercise form.

Bread is always bread; there are many languages.

Multilingualism is becoming an everyday thing in more and more countries and cultures. I like that. I do not like bias about an ability to comprehend, speak, write, read, and communicate in more than one language. It is not true that multilingualism makes one prone for nonsense. Multilingualism does not require any unusual wit, on the other hand. 


The bias in Ms. de Lange’s experiment implies that multilingual kids do not mind if something is real or true, and look to syntax only. Monolingual children would be presented as literal in all language use. Another ethical and linguistic concern comes with Ms. de Lange reporting infant brain scans for experimental purposes.  There is no way to obtain informed consent from an infant. Washington Post has more.

Click to enlarge

Read why I cannot see sense in such scans.