Living in this world. With the people that live in this world.
All the time.
Or possibly just being a heartfelt skeptic. Actually having to challenge people every time they use the word is, would be a bit irritating.
Or proof-reading the whole unstruck archive, that would probably be pretty tortuous
Or maybe just a typewriter without an apostrophe.
Or just a room full of other pedants. Being pedantic is fun, but being pedanted at is less so, particularly if you consider yourself largely pedantic. Each little irritation will be multiplied.
I wouldn’t risk it. I recommend not being a pedant too often. Except those times when you can’t resist.
I have the urge. I try to suppress it, but I correct people. Particularly on the most ridiculous one, pronunciation.
Possibly my worst habit is correcting people’s pronunciation of words that I have never heard out loud before. I just assume I’m more likely to be right than them, and say them before I catch my own arrogance.
I’m getting better at apologising, though. I swear.
It’s a strange feeling, that you’re about to spit out a smug correction. It seems almost involuntary, but it can’t be. Is anybody that addicted to rules of grammar, RP and technical engineering that they need to correct everything that is said slightly out of line?
It certainly seems so. It may be part of that naive lust for control and understanding that we people seem to suffer from. If you can understand the rules of language, for example, and then make people follow them, then you can create order out of chaos.
Although mostly you just irritate people, and/or make them feel a bit sheepish.
It’s a great way to stifle conversation, that’s when pedantry is at its worse. Perhaps a pedant’s worst nightmare would actually be trying to make a point that requires a poor use of grammar to get across.
And someone there, sticking their finger in mouth, just as the yawn is at full tilt.
(That’s possibly the most incomprehensible metaphor I’ve ever written. Win.)
Let’s get back to that skeptic. If you really are skeptical enough, then you have no right to be pedantic. The rules of grammar, syntax and pronunciation (to name but a few) are no more provably real than everything else in the universe. If you are going to challenge every innaccuracy, you have to challenge everything. When there are no rules, everything is incorrect.
Pedant’s probably wouldn’t go there, to be fair. I think pedantry is basically an expression or desire for certainty. An acceptance of the rules as solid entities, perhaps the most solid. A decision that rules are meant to be applied correctly and evenly, like well regimented butter.
I would rather not, actually.
But part of me niggles and bursts out occasionally. It’s hard not to shout about the things that you know. It’s just showing off, really.
Be less smug about it, at least.
After all, the pedants are revolting.
Illustration by Henry