A Little Grammatical Rant

The other day I was reading an article online which, quite frankly, angered me.  Then, the masochist that I am, I went to the comments section and wound up staring, gawking and stuttering at the wretched gaffe I came across. It was the word “reverse”.  Now, that alone does not cause me to turn purple with rage and make my eyes narrow and focus such that they could cause things to burst into flames but in conjunction with something like, say, “snobbery” it does just that.  I’ve ranted about similarly fussy things with subjective terms like “best” in the past but this is a bit different.  This is about just plain ignorant usage of words.

As always when I discuss words here I talk about the meaning and so, I present to you the word “reverse” according to the freedictionary.com people:

1. The opposite or contrary: All along we thought Sue was older than Bill, but just the reverse was true.
2.a. The back or rear part.  b. The side of a coin or medal that does not carry the principal design; the verso.
3. A change to an opposite position, condition, or direction.
4. A change in fortune from better to worse; a setback: suffered financial reverses.
5. a. A mechanism, such as a gear in a motor vehicle, that is used to reverse movement.

b. The position or operating condition of such a mechanism.
c. Movement in an opposite direction.
6. Football An offensive play in which a back running in one direction executes a handoff to a back running in the opposite direction.
Note how all those definitions imply some kind of fixed measure.  If you’re going a specific direction, to go in the reverse would be to go the direction opposite of the one you were going in before.  Simple, no?
Now let’s take the word snobbery: Snobbish behavior or an instance of it.
Using the definitions courtesy of freedictionary.com I cited can you tell me what reverse-snobbery” means? No?  Well, the best I got was more of an antonym really.  Say, something like humble or accepting which really doesn’t work because if that’s what was meant I should think that’s the word they would have chosen.  Besides, contextually it was used to indicate a snobbery from an uneducated standpoint as opposed to someone high brow who was just snobbish.
The implication of such terms is that only “the elite” (whoever you define as elite) are the only ones who could be snobs.  That makes just about as much sense as only Caucasians being racist and anyone else with separatist views being “reverse racists”.  If you greet the “elite” with derision and as though you, yourself having superior intellect/morals/ethics then you are…..  TAH DAH- a SNOB.  If you think another group of people, based upon their religion/color/planet of origin, are icky/wrong/inferior then you are that not so nice “r” word I mentioned above.
We have enough difficulties in just being human without adding grammatical ignorance (see: combining words that make absolutely no sense to combine) to the list of errors and sufferings.  Think of it this way- one less grammatical “oops-a-daisy” is one less slight against another person’s ears/brain!  It’s actually a kind of public service we can easily do EVERY DAY!  Yeah for thoughtful humanitarianism grammatical accuracy!  Perhaps that should be a new Federal holiday…

2 responses to “A Little Grammatical Rant

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