Language Bully- Article on Slate

Language Bully Article on Slate

As I’ve aged, I have started to learn that arguing over language or words can be fun, especially if I learn something. One thing I hate about myself if I catch myself doing it, though, is being one of the asshats mentioned in the Slate article linked above.

As Matthew J.X. Malady writes: “Those who use their advanced knowledge to embarrass or humiliate others are the absolute worst. Yet, for whatever reason, language bullies don’t seem to get this, or they don’t care. Either way, they are out there at this very moment, lurking, lying in wait, ready to pounce. (They know you used the word nonplussed improperly the other day, and you will be hearing from them shortly. So prepare to feel dumb.)”

To avoid most encounters with language bullies, all you need to do is to avoid internet forums, comment sections, and similarly anonymous writing. I’ve learned that most language bullies don’t really practice their art directly to one’s face. Some of it is due to the realization that they know they are being asshats and the other part is that being clever in person is devilishly hard to do in real time. 

The goal for all of us should be to wait until a language bully emerges and lashes out. At this point, our efforts should be focused toward pointing out the stupidity of their attempt and making them feel as if they are on the defensive. Not because they are right or wrong, but whether they are behaving right or wrong.

It will make language more fun for us all.