My State of Being a “Grammar Nazi”

I’ve faithfully kept a diary since I was nine years old.  I read a lot.  I also grew up with a complicated last name that no one could spell or pronounce.  Mostly because of that last one, I quickly developed a need to know how to correctly spell and pronounce words and names.  This soon expanded into correct punctuation and perfect grammar.  I know I’m not perfect, but always learning.

Hubby actually bought me this patch.
Hubby actually bought me this patch.

I’ve considered myself, and been called, a “Grammar Nazi” for several years.  For a good while, I really was — to the point of correcting my husband’s everyday speech when he ended a sentence with a preposition or simile.  (Thankfully, I quickly realised I had to nip that in the bud.)  Yes, improper grammar tends to bug me.  (Especially when people say things like “I’m very particular about correct pronounciation,” when it’s “pronunciation.”)

In the last couple of years, some things have come to my attention about the language — it’s always evolving.  It used to bug me that Americans pronounce hummus as “HUHM-uhs,” when it’s supposed to be “HOOM-uhs.”  Or that even other Grammar Nazis would say “I’m good” instead of “I’m well,” or end sentences with prepositions.  However, in looking into not only the history of language, but the history and origin of words, I’ve come to realise that it’s all perfectly natural.  Yes, there are still intolerable grammar errors when it comes to professional stuff, like interviews and written work.  However, I think the only truly important part of grammar, when spoken in everyday language, is to make sure our children are taught what’s right.

GRAMMAR

On one hand, I know that all the grammar aspects of English class in school always came naturally and excitingly to me, and that not everyone is like that.  I remember that when I was sixteen, even “the smart girl” was so confused by the things that were exciting me.  I also personally know people who have never had any skills in phonics, and still struggle with it later in life.  (I equate it to my absolute lack of problem-solving skills.  No matter how old I get, I still have to be told what’s wrong and how to fix it.)

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On the other hand, there’s no reason to be atrocious, especially on purpose.  For instance, spelling according to how you speak, except in a text.  Nobody wants to take extra time to have to slowly read your Facebook status.  “Wez gt lotz a dem tingz n hrr.”  (I have several friends who’ve done this sort of thing a lot.)  However, I understand people who have no spelling skills or have dyslexia.  One of my best friends has dyslexia.  (And it’s SO much more than reading backward; even more than just general reading trouble.)

In learning more about languages, I’ve learned that they have evolved through things exactly like this — made-up words, mispronounced words, slang, and altered grammar.  Thomas Jefferson himself was a Grammar Nazi.  It annoyed him how people were mispronouncing words that came to America from other countries.  “Balcony” is an Italian word pronounced “bal-KOH-nee,” but in America the accent was switched to the first syllable: “BAL-koh-nee.”  It made me giggle at first, thinking about him being annoyed at the pronunciation of a word about which no one thinks twice these days.

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The word “coffee” alone is a HUGE example.  It’s spelled and pronounced differently in pretty much every country (caffè, kahveh, kaffee, コーヒー, et cetera), but it all has a single source (“koffie” in Dutch).

My other two favourite examples are today’s “asshole” and “douchebag.”  (Excuse my “French.”)  Both started out with different spellings and completely different meanings than they have today.

Yes, certain things do annoy me, whether a little or to no end.  However, I’ve learned to accept so much.  As long as I understand what you’re saying, I won’t correct your grammar to your face.  (I’ll still do it in my head as a reaction, but it’s for me, not at you.)

Perfume

I apologise ahead of time… When I started writing this post, which favours Japan, I didn’t think about the fact that I’d be posting it on Pearl Harbor Day, the anniversary of the Japanese attacking America during World War II! LOL my bad.


I’m not talking about the oils or artificial scents that one sprays on themselves to cover up whatever it is they think they smell like. Nor am I talking about the UK band from the 1990s. I am talking about my favourite J-pop group. (J-pop is short for “Japanese pop,” though the group’s technical genre is techno-pop. This is not to be confused with K-pop –Korean pop– or C-pop –Chinese pop.–)

I know what you might be thinking… that Asian music is strange. The lyrics don’t make sense, and the videos are even worse. (My thoughts go to the recently famed “Gangnam Style,” which I actually had yet to see until I started writing this post.) For the most part, I would agree with you. I admit, I myself still don’t really understand Japanese poetry or figures of speech. (I figure as I continue to learn the culture and language –and I need to be more devoted to taking my lessons as I should be fluent by now– I’ll eventually figure things out.) I get the gist of some songs, fully understand very few, and probably most of them I like purely for how it sounds.

This group Perfume currently consists of three girls (all around the age of Hubby): Ayano Oumoto (“Nocchi” – the one who seems to be the “tomboy”), Yuka Kashino (“Kashiyuka” – the adorable one that looks the youngest, but is actually the oldest), and Ayaka Nashiwaki (“A-chan” – the pretty one, my favourite — not to say the others aren’t pretty, but I’m not sure what other word to use to describe her as separate from the others). Originally, the band had Yuuka Kawashima (“Kawayuka”), who was quickly replaced by Nocchi. (Kawayuka withdrew because she wanted to pursue her studies.) The group got its name because the three original girls had the Japanese character (香) for fragrance in their names.

Left-to-right: Kashiyuka, Nocchi, A-chan.
A very basic history, these girls attended the Actors School in Hiroshima, in its charter year of 1999, beginning in sixth grade. They released their first single, “Omajinai Perori” (or “OMAJINAI★ペロリ” as it appears on my iPod), in Hiroshima in March 2002, and their next single “Kareshi Boshuuchuu” (translation: “Looking for a Boyfriend”) later that year.

I’m not going to go on with facts and leave no room for why I like this band or how I came to know of them. Back in 2007, I randomly came across a J-pop video on YouTube called “Super Jet Shoes.” I don’t remember what group it was, it wasn’t Perfume, and the video has since been removed. I was strangely intrigued by it, and there were related links to more J-pop videos by a group called Perfume. I watched maybe ten of their videos before I realised that I really liked how they sounded and I had to own some of their music.

After listening to them for about a week, I started looking online to find the lyrics. I came across Perfume City, an unofficial fansite but my number one Perfume resource, and they have the lyrics to their songs in Kanji (the more famously known written form of Japanese), Romaji (Japanese transliterated into English letters), and also in English! I picked some of my favourite songs at the time to learn. I printed the Romaji lyrics for “Computer City,” “Electro World,” and a couple others (but I only got around to learning those two at the time), read them aloud several times to myself, and even typed them until I finally could sing along with them. The lyrics in English are what helped me find out if the words were actually the kind of things I wanted to be singing, and simply to understand what the songs are saying.

My personal favourite song, “Dream Fighter,” is amazing. It actually makes sense, LOL! The poetry is understandable, it sounds great, and it’s encouraging enough to have gotten me through many tough days at work. This song is about keeping your dreams in sight and no matter how tough it gets, no matter how many times you get knocked down, never let go — get back up and keep fighting for your dreams!

They finally made a music video after months of me returning to YouTube in hopes of finding it. The video is a bit strange for the song, but it’s very classy compared to most of their stranger earlier ones.

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Have you seen the movie Cars 2? Then you’ve already heard Perfume! Their song “Polyrhythm” plays in the scene when Lightning McQueen and Mater arrive in the Japanese club. (See that clip again by clicking here.)

With the recent popularity of “Gangnam Style,” I know that the general (or at least younger) populace of America can understand that songs (or at least music videos) can be enjoyable even if you don’t fully understand it. (Although, the song “Gangnam Style” is about making fun of the lifestyle in the region of Gangnam in Seoul, Korea. You can read more about that here.)

I’ll finish up with two music videos. First, “Dream Fighter,” because it’s my favourite song:

Second, “Nee” (translation: “Hey”), because it’s actually a really cool video. It’s my sister’s favourite song. And I really want A-chan’s black-and-white striped jacket! (Also, the random cat cracks me up.)