Last week, a treasured family member mentioned in passing that she had long ago stopped worrying about her grammar and spelling when texting me. This concerned me but I neglected to ask her what had changed and why she worried about it in the first place.
Under no circumstances would I consider editing her or anyone else who is close to me. When they were young, I might have corrected my kids, but only in my role as a responsible parent. Likewise, when I am in the classroom, I consistently edit my students for spelling, grammar and punctuation, but in a constructive manner.
Being competent in the English language does not entitle me or anyone else to correct others. That reality doesn’t mean that I won’t notice. Please don’t ask that of me; I’ve spent too many years as a reader, writer and editor to become oblivious.
In order for that to make better sense, we can leave the context of English grammar/usage/punctuation and consider other endeavors. What would happen if you were walking through the Louvre and encountered the Mona Lisa? It’s been there since 1797, in its timeless perfection.
As you get close to it, you see that some misguided curator or director decided to embellish Mona’s frame with large pink ruffles and velvet bows. Are you kidding? Who would dare to profane art in this way?
Or find yourself in a symphony hall, listening to Beethoven. All of a sudden, a percussionist forgets his role and common decency. He begins banging incessantly on a bass drum. Think you would notice?
Obviously, most of the work or texts that I see don’t have the prominence of DaVinci or Beethoven. But training to find imperfections is critical to my craft, not a tool I use to criticize.
While I may be conscious of glitches in the language of others, they make no difference to me at all. Perhaps, the lack of concern is the realization that I am a loving family member, not a grammatical fanatic. My eraser, real or digital, is reserved for those who request it. Shalom.