Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Confessions of a grammar Nazi

 I am a grammar Nazi. A language snob. A linguistic bitch, if you will. I offer the following as proof:
  1. When I was ten years old I once took a red pen to a letter my best friend had written me. I had every intention of mailing it back to her with all my corrections. Luckily my mom got to it first and advised me it would not be good for the friendship.
  2. Over ten years later I completely ruined what would have otherwise been a special moment by pointing out improper use of your/you're in a very cute note left for me by a special someone.
  3. I read Eats, Shoots, and Leaves and Mother Tongue. For fun. And loved them. And would read them again right now if there weren't so much else on my reading list.
I really can't help it. Often times a "You mean this" will escape my lips before I've realized it when someone misspeaks. My fingers start typing on their own to correct people on facebook. But luckily I usually get to the delete key before my fingers get to the enter key (But not always).
I foolishly think that everyone cares about proper grammar, spelling, and punctuation as much as I do. I know that I take my Naziism to a higher level, but I do think that everyone should be able to speak and write in their native language to a relatively error free extent.

I'm not completely unforgiving in my opinion. English is a complex language which makes spelling, pronunciation, and grammar rules only so that we can break them. We are a mishmash of languages from all over the world and have adopted rules and vocabulary from others the way that the media follows Republican presidential candidates: what ever is sparkly and popular, whether or not it makes sense.
I don't claim to speak and write the language perfectly. I love my spell check as much as anyone. There might even be mistakes in this very blog (If you see any, please tell me). However, I have to draw my line of toleration somewhere, and all of the following definitely fall below it:
  • there/their/they're & your/you're- Learn them. Don't confuse them again. Please.
  • definately- Does the word finite have an "a" in it? NO! Then when you add a prefix and suffix to the word, it still doesn't have one!
  • could of/should of- This irritates me like nothing else.
  • apostrophe-ed plurals- No, you did not buy some book's. That curvy thing is used in contractions or to show possession. Go back to second grade and learn about it.
  • there's books over there- "There's" is a contraction for "there is." Would you say "There is books"? I hope not. So stop saying "There's books." It should be "There are."
I could go on for days. But for your sake I won't.

I'll leave you with a few things that simultaneously make me me smile, cringe, and worry for the future of humanity.
Wrong. I do too.
 Plea from this grammar Nazi: please use your spell check.

    Sunday, August 28, 2011

    The joys of laundry

    I'm sitting here grumpily avoiding folding my laundry thinking to myself that someone really needs to invent some sort of contraption that folds your clothes for you. Wouldn't that be nice?
    Ready, set, FOLD!

    But then I remember that it won't be long before I'm back in Spain and won't have the luxury of a dryer. I'll have a clothesline outside my kitchen window and the Andalucían sun, leaving all my t-shirts crunchy and my jeans a little looser with every wash. The forty minutes it takes for most clothes in the dryer will soon turn into a full day. Or three. Or five in the winter.
    Confession: this pic is from my semester in Rome, but you get the idea

    However, stiff socks, jeans still wet after 24 hours, and worrying about clothes falling off the line will all only mean one thing: SPAIN.

    As much of a pain in the butt the process of washing clothes is over there, just thinking about it makes me happy because it means Spain is that much closer. I can't wait to be pulling my non-soft, non-fluffy, non-warm clothes off the line. Afterwards I'll get to head down to the Malagueta for a beach day, enjoy a caña in Plaza de la Merced, meander down Calle Larios, or maybe even hop on a plane or bus to some other fantastic destination.

    But for now, I'm folding my clothes and counting down the days. (33)

    Wednesday, August 10, 2011

    My teacher, Facebook

    When learning a new language, there are a million and one ways to expose yourself to and study the language. You can take formal classes, move to a country that speaks that language, arrange language exchange partners, listen to music and watch TV in that language, or even just grab some grammar books and study on your own.

    Language learning tools you probably didn't consider using? Your Facebook. Your cell phone. Your ipod. Your anything-that-has-a-language-setting. Those little gadgets you use everyday, change them from English and learn their vocabulary!

    Sure, a lot of the vocabulary isn't terribly confusing. I could have guessed that notification would be notificación in Spanish, but it's nice to confirm, and to learn the words for link, tag, and home (it's not casa). You use your Facebook everyday, so why not read it as Juan ha comentado tu estado, and Carolina te ha invitado al evento "Fiesta" rather than the same old notifications.

    Learn the configuración of your móvilResponder to your mensajes. Remind yourself that today is martes, not Tuesday. Review los meses del año.

    This may not sound like much, but languages are learned in baby steps. Every exposure you have to words used in context increases your understanding of them, and understanding words and phrases better means they will more naturally slip into your speech. Think about how many times a day you use your phone, computer, and ipod, and what you could possibly learn each time. Even if it is just Pedro te ha etiquado en 3 fotos, it's something.

    Wednesday, August 3, 2011


    What exactly does an English teaching assistant do over the summer when school is out? Come back home to suburban southern California to mooch off her parents, convince old jobs to rehire her, and replenish her travel funds, of course.

    I'm afraid I'm back to a very un-Spanish life. I stepped off the plane and straight into 40 hour work weeks (A step up from 12 hours in Spain) at my old job as assistant manager of a movie theater, which graciously took me back for the summer. What I do isn't terribly exciting, but I work with fantastic people. I also get unlimited free movie tickets, which my friends and family definitely take advantage of.

    It's been strange coming from Spain, where the concept of customer service is nonexistent, to here, where my job is to bend over backwards to make each and every customer happy, because after all, they're always right.

    Why yes, we oversold the auditorium and it's my fault only the front row is left when you showed up five minutes late to a Friday night movie on opening night. You asked for 17 pumps of butter on your popcorn and then it leaked onto your pants? No shit, Sherlock! Oh, you have your 3D glasses from last time? That's nice, you're still paying the surcharge. None of the following are acceptable substitutes for an ID when buying a ticket for a rated R movie: telling me how old you are, tattoos, facial hair, being tall, or my personal favorite, being pregnant. (All of these are true stories).

    Observe an ordinary day at work:

    Customer service in Spain isn't too far off from that. If what you're asking for is completely ridiculous, they will laugh in your face and tell you so. To many foreigners this comes across as rude, but usually it's just brutal honesty, which I would love to give my customers. Here, I have to hold my tongue, smile, and somehow make this person happy. Having a shiny name tag with the word "Manager" usually helps.

    But like I said, I have awesome coworkers and employees and at the end of the day we all get to laugh at each others customer stories, and share funny videos of things we would love to say.