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Monday, April 25, 2016

What’s in a Word? Guest Post

My community grocery store prominently displays a small selection of art created by students at our local primary school.  The engraved plaques beneath the frames read:  “This art presented by an Inspiring Artist.”  I cringe every time I pass the display.

According to a recent study from the University of Michigan, and relayed on NPR’s “Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me” radio program, extroverts are less likely to be bothered by small grammatical errors, whereas introverts report being more significantly annoyed.  Additionally, those likely to be bothered fell into the “curmudgeonly” personality traits as measured by the Big Five Personality Test.

Guilty as charged.  I have found myself editing in red pen poorly worded business flyers that misuse homophones and flagrantly disrespect the grammatical rules of a literate, educated society.  If cleanliness is next to Godliness, then with proper grammar we ascend to Nirvana.  I don’t actually do anything with my edits, mind you.  But I do become peevish when people publish poorly written English.  There are rules, people.

So I’m a curmudgeon when it comes to grammar.  Does being right bring me any happiness? Not really.  Just the opposite.  Dr. Richard Carlson’s classic advises us “not to sweat the small stuff.”  My yoga instructor guides me similarly.   And in no religion are grammatical errors a sign of the End Times, so maybe I can relax at bit.

Maybe the difference between an inspiring artist and an aspiring artist is in the eye of the beholder.  And these eyes are choosing to see the happier side of grammar.

Guest post by Rebecca Cannon, a GLISA member from Tyler, TX, who will graduate Fall 2016.


Carlson, R. (1997). Don't sweat the small stuff-- and it's all small stuff: Simple ways to keep the little things from taking over your life. New York: Hyperion.

Wait Wait Don't Tell Me [Radio Program]. (2016, April 2). Chicago, Illinois: National Public Radio.  Accessed 4/15/16 from

Boland JE, Queen R (2016) If You’re House Is Still Available, Send Me an Email: Personality Influences Reactions to Written Errors in Email Messages. PLoS ONE 11(3): e0149885.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0149885 accessed 4/15/16 from

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