Debbie Does Disambiguation: Talkin'
With the privilege of grammar comes the responsibility to not be a schmuck
Imma try not to turn this into a dissertation, because I think it probably is one; I hope that dissertation is being busily written RIGHT NOW by someone who isn’t me. I further hope the author uses the word “schmuck” with progressive abandon, but that’s just a suggestion.
Here’s where I’ll go with it: Grammar is not a weapon.
It’s a clarifier, a liberator, a nuance to make language one’s own, a tool.
Like many beautiful tools, alas, grammar is often weaponized. It’s one of those legal violences one group uses to assert its superiority over another group or individual.
And Debbie believes that’s a crappy flexing of power:
(Wait, is she writing a dictionary? She really might be.)
NB: This includes grammatical structure, vocabulary, and accents.
Without doing the slightest shred of research, I’m going to boldly declare that grammar is inextricably linked to privilege. If we give it 1/10th of a moment’s consideration, we can see it’s a dad-blamed luxury to have the time, inclination, and support to be able to devote one’s energy to such a thing.
Grammar is a luxury when compared to shit we need to survive.
It is something many folks can’t afford to indulge in when faced with huge, actual problems of daily living, including but not limited to navigating systems designed to exclude and disenfranchise them.
Discounting a person’s message because of the grammar package it’s wrapped in is short-sighted and unimaginative. Discounting a person because of the grammar they use is cruel. Using one’s own command of grammar to discredit, discount, and exclude a person because of their grammar is an abomination.
Debbie and I dream of the day when every person in grammar power has a safe opportunity to be a foreigner or outside of the language mainstream, and to feel discomfort and exclusion that results from their speech patterns.
Perhaps then they will stop being tools.