Grammandos and more

From yesterday’s New York Times Magazine, in the “One-Page Magazine”, Lizzie Skurnick’s regular “That Should Be a Word” feature, appropriate for National Grammar Day:

GRAMMANDO
(Gruh-MAN-doh), n., adj.
1. One who constantly corrects others’ linguistic mistakes. “Cowed by his grammando wife, Arthur finally ceased saying ‘irregardless.’ ” See also: Dictaplinarian (enforces correct pronunciation); Spellot (takes a red pen to all documents).

(As usual the exemplary grammando’s complaint is not actually about grammar, but about word choice. What the hell, It’s All Grammar, right?)

In a note on her website, Skurnick explains the rationale for the entry:

Because I have always HATED the term “Grammar Nazi,” as it makes NO SENSE, unless Jew-killing means an adherence to precision

On Language Log and this blog, we’re inclined to talk about peevers rather than Grammar Nazis (though we’ve posted on the X Nazi snowclonelet; see, for example, here, here, here, here (specifically on Grammar Nazi), and here).

Skurnick’s invented words are mostly portmanteaus, as in this column:

grammando = grammar + commando; dictiplinarian = dictate + disciplinarian; spellot = spell + zealot

There’s a small industry in word inventions (see, for instance, Barbara Wallraff’s 2006 book Word Fugitives: In Pursuit of Wanted Words). Very few are likely to catch on (for discussion, see Allan Metcalf’s 2002 book Predicting New Words), but then that’s not their point — which is to demonstrate cleverness and entertain people.

 

7 Responses to “Grammandos and more”

  1. Tom Christiansen Says:

    I’ve always called the disease of having an inflated and inflamed urge to take a red ped to every bit of text you run across “corrigitis”. Disabling bouts of this affliction can be triggered by your publisher telling you that you have just three days to proofread a 1200-page book. Recovery time can be well over a week.

  2. Lizzie Says:

    Hi Arnold — thanks for the comment! I try to avoid simple portmanteaus — my words usually have a few words embedded in the rhyme, such as smearch (search, smear, besmirch) or shpitz (spits, pits, shpritz, shvitz) or skinjecture (skin, inject, conjecture). Grammando is (in my grand imagining), both grammar and commando, but also remand, demand, amend, do, and command! All crimes visited on those unfortunate enough to live with grammandos.

  3. mignonfogarty Says:

    I sometimes call them “Kittys” because of the following exchange from “Through the Looking Glass,” but I don’t see it catching on:

    “Kitty, dear, let’s pretend–” and here I wish I could tell you half the things Alice used to say, beginning with her favorite phrase “Let’s pretend.” She had had quite a long argument with her sister only the day before–all because Alice had begun with “Let’s pretend we’re kings and queens;” and her sister, who liked being very exact, had argued that they couldn’t, because there were only two of them, and Alice had been reduced at last to say, “Well, you be one of them then, and I’ll be all the rest.”

  4. mignonfogarty Says:

    I sometimes call them “Kittys” because of the following exchange from “Through the Looking Glass,” but I don’t expect it to catch on:

    “Kitty, dear, let’s pretend–” and here I wish I could tell you half the things Alice used to say, beginning with her favorite phrase “Let’s pretend.” She had had quite a long argument with her sister only the day before–all because Alice had begun with “Let’s pretend we’re kings and queens;” and her sister, who liked being very exact, had argued that they couldn’t, because there were only two of them, and Alice had been reduced at last to say, “Well, you be one of them then, and I’ll be all the rest.”

  5. Jim Says:

    What’s wrong with “Grammar Cop”? That’s what I use all the time

    • arnold zwicky Says:

      “Grammar Cop” isn’t bad, but it suggests that the grammandos actually have authority. “Self-appointed gramar cop” gets the sense, but it’s a mouthful.

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