Friday, April 19, 2013

What's that? A flock of frugivorous Cerulean Warblers, you say?

As a masterful birderer, I am regularly dismayed and disappointed by how birders conduct themselves. This, of course, provides much of the reason for birderering in the first place, as you all know. As I've stated numerous times, one big reason birders get into birding is because they don't get along with people. Normally birders behaving especially strange or bizarrely aggressive do not get under my skin, but there is one frequent habit birders have on listservs/forums/Facebook that has led to this post.

To get into it simply and succinctly...when it comes to spelling and grammar, it's time for some of you to pull that huge stick out of your butt and lighten up. When birders whine and bitch about the misspellings or bad grammar of others in public forums, it typically comes off somewhere between incredibly pretentious and profoundly pathetic. If you have the type of personality that requires such a shallow level of oneupsmanship that it warms your frigid heart to spitefully correct people's spelling and grammar errors...then it's time you take a good hard look at yourself. This widespread trait is one of many, many reasons why birders will always be NERDS.

Is the world going to end when someone wrote "their" when they meant "there"?  If someone abbreviated Barn Swallow to BASW instead of BARS, is the sky going to fall? Next time you work yourself up into what is probably a first-world-white-male-self-righteous rage, realize that you are making ALL BIRDERS look like very small and insignificant people. Your friends can often see what you are posting on Facebook, and there are always new and curious birdwatchers who are just getting their feet wet in the other online venues we prefer to communicate in. Don't turn them off!

Your snarky spelling or bird code correction isn't going to make the world a better place, believe it or not. If someone writes me about the big flock of CEWA they saw eating berries in a tree, I don't make some insipid comment about how unusual it is to see a flock of frugivorous Cerulean Warblers*...I'll tell them I'm glad the CEDW flock was so abiding and go on living my life.

I consider myself relatively well-versed in the spelings and them grammars, which is great and all, but I also am painfully aware that I often type without thinking. I make mistakes! So what? I wish I didn't, but my editor Booby Brittany is not always on hand to help. Some of us have better internal editors than others. I'm not trying to glorify being a poor communicator by any means...I just believe there are much more disturbing things out there for us nerds to get completely butthurt about.

To be fair, this dickish habit is surely alive and well in many types of nerd circles, not just birders. You are not alone. Of course, it is perfectly understandable to be bummed by a vulgar display of grammatical failure, but there are ways to address this without being an asshole. For example, share it with your nerd friends, instead of telling the writer that they are dumber than a bag of hammers. Hopefully, you don't require further instruction on how to avoid insulting someone.

This rant has been gradually building up over time (and no, not because of the flak I catch for my neverending spelling mistakes), so I just thought it should get out into the Birdosphere where it can cause damage at will. Of course, it will probably just alienate and disenfranchise me to a staggering proportion of my people, but ol' Number 7 needs to get the flock in shape now and again.

That's all for today, bring on the trolls!

* - Yes nerds, I do know CERW, you can relax.

15 comments:

  1. Ja, whatzup wid da spel chek pulice?

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  2. I've seen this happen SO MANY times. Thank you.

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  3. Good rant. I will take some small exception, in the fact that it's not general enough.

    You are deep in the bird nerd community, so you see bird nerds grammar peeving. I submit that ANY nerd community has people grammar peeving. You're just seeing a special instance of a general class of "I got me a little bit of education, thus I am an expert at language."

    (Incidentally, this drives linguists nuts, until they just learn to accept and ignore it. What really drives them nuts is when people learn that they are a linguist, they assume they must themselves be a huge grammar peever - "oh, wow, I guess I better watch my language, or you'll correct me!." When in fact, all of a linguist's training steers them away from this.)

    I actually don't see this a lot on the Washington list ("tweeters") - occasionally a rant about telephoto lenses or about revealing the sooper-sekrit nest you've uncovered, but I can't recall a lot of grammar peeving.

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    1. Regarding your submission, "To be fair, this dickish habit is surely alive and well in many types of nerd circles, not just birders." Totally agree.

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  4. Doesn't butthurt have a hyphen?

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    1. Nope, without a hyphen is both the proper and popular use. It only exists as slang, and slang knows no rules. And yes, I know that's a joke....at least, I hope so.

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  5. Yowza!
    There's some righteous furry going on here. I'll back your corner too. The rampant, pompous indignation from esoteric grammar nazis, so often used as a proxy for intelligence and expertise, is very off-putting.

    From the sound of it, you've seen more bristling stuff than I have lately, but it's the motivating pretentiousness, even when it's irregular, that dumbfounds.

    That all being said, I still find myself, personally, to be more irked by the listserv reports of who has what common birds at their backyard feeders every single morning.

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    1. Yes! A proxy! Good point.

      We must endure hell from the feederwatchers in order to get access to the occasional backyard mega. It is, indeed, a high price to pay.

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  6. YOU'RE dummmmer than a bag of hammers!

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  7. When comforting a grammar nazi, always say, "There, their , they're." That's snoopy's advice, anyway.

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