Is it racist to correct people on their grammar?

In a video uploaded by The Guardian, Mona Chalabi argues that grammar snobs are more likely to ‘be older, wealthier, whiter, or just plain academic’ and treat others with ‘condescension’. 

 

With any language, you will have elitist snobs biding their time, waiting for a chance to jump in and prove you wrong. I don’t think that this is exclusive to white, rich, English people. The English language originated in a white country, so perhaps that’s why Chalabi reckons that white people are more likely to treat others with ‘condescension’. However, I don’t believe this is a racial issue.

 

Not all ‘wealthy’ or ‘old’ people are going to be arrogant when correcting us though, and for those that are arrogant; instead of chastising someone for inappropriate use of language, why not try a different approach? By being supportive, we can help others refine their command of the English language. If I were to learn German, for example, I would appreciate it if someone politely pointed out a mistake. Like every skill, the only way we get better is by practicing and routinely reviewing our progress. I have been speaking English since I could talk, and even after almost three years of studying university level English, I still mess up and make silly mistakes, which is completely okay. However if I didn’t practice and get feedback, I’d still be speaking and writing like a five year old. I agree whole-heatedly with her argument that no one really cares about whether or not I use literally to mean figuratively, as in our everyday life we use countless figures of speech and colloquialisms. However, people need to be open to constructive feedback.

 

With this in mind, there is a huge difference between someone politely pointing out a mistake, and someone being rude about it. Instead of correcting someone’s grammar usage, she urges us to ‘spend more time listening to what others have to say and less focusing on the grammar what they say it with’. But where does this leave us? Chris Menahan argues that this video’s message is ‘don’t strive to improve yourself, accept mediocrity’.
What do you think?

 

Featured image sourced from informationliberation.com

Video sourced from The Guardian’s youtube channel

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4 thoughts on “Is it racist to correct people on their grammar?

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