Over the weekend I had the following text message conversation:

Her: Maken sure you got home safe

Me: Yeah, I’m home safe. Thanks for the check-in. You get home safe too.

Nothing here to draw the eye… except maybe the the grammatical mistakes. In the exchange she uses the word “safe” when the correct grammatical word is “safely.” The adverb is used to describe the form in which I am to get home. In my response message, I used the same incorrect form. After I sent the message I paused to think about what I had just done. I couldn’t think of a good reason as to why I hadn’t used the proper form and it bothered me. It still does, even now.

Occam’s Razor states that the most obvious answer to a problem is usually the correct one. In this case, that answer would be that I wanted to fit in and not have this girl judge me as odd for my proper use of grammar. But that can’t be it. At my age, I’m not concerned with being judged as odd by females. I’m confident in myself and who I am such that I don’t need to seek approval from strangers. However, the reality is that this wasn’t the first time I “dumb-down” my use of language, and it won’t be the last.

My command of English grammar puts me in a rare group. It’s a group of people that appreciates witty wordplay and unique turns of phrase. It’s also a group that bristles at a lack of verb tense agreement and superfluous adverbs. I’ve been called a grammar snob. I’m not. I’m just elitist.

Be that as it may, it doesn’t keep me from wanting to fit in when I meet new people. We all have an innate desire to be liked, and in the pursuit of that, we hide those things that might make us unlikeable. I was no different; when responding to her text message, I made a choice to mimic her use of language because it sounds familiar. Plain and simple.

I’m a little ashamed. I should, at my age, be confident enough in myself that I’m not concerned about seeking the approval of strangers. But I’m not. These things still concern me and, in some instances, affect my behavior. I think it’s a way of life. I guess I have to accept the fact that I sometimes am embarrassed by my knowledge of English grammar. Once I do that, it should be easy to get over.

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