Note to Pedants: GO AWAY!
Because free discussion and pedantry tend not to co-exist happily, and free discussion is dear to our blogging heart, it seems only fair to warn potential pedants that they are not welcome here.
Commentary on this blog is not posted from a position of power or erudition. This, no doubt, is obvious! The exchange is, however, meant to be thoughtful, thought-provoking, as accurate in its details as possible, exploratory, motivated by curiosity and interest, fueled by the assumption that intellectually honest and thoughtful people have important things to say (and wonder) about our literature and that our collective engagement in its exploration can only be a good thing.
What’s wrong with a pedant?
Let’s proceed, rather pedantically, with a definition or two:
pedant: a scholar who makes needless and inopportune display of his learning, or who insists upon the importance of trifling points of scholarship. (*)
pedantry: 1. ostentatious display of knowledge 2. undue and slavish adherence to forms or rules(*)
Key words of concern here are “inopportune,” “trifling,” and “slavish adherence.”
We shall strive for quality and accuracy and welcome comments that can help us achieve either. We will not slavishly adhere to, nor tolerate, fact niggling over “trifling details,” to the detriment of lively discussion. We will be particularly intolerant of haughty displays of fact niggling, clearly meant to establish the author’s ownership of a particular topic, thus acting in the service of ego rather than that of curiosity and exploration.
Not sure if you’re a pedant? Take this simple test!
(Note: if you’re worried about it you’re probably not!)
Your are being pedantic if:
- Your tone could be accurately described as “sniffy”
- Your real motivation in making your comment is NOT to contribute to the accuracy of our knowledge, but to point to further evidence of a sickening decline in standards, against which you fight a weary battle.
- You took far more malicious delight in noting the typo “your are” than you do in the humour in this particular question.
- Sloppy grammar irritates you more than sloppy thinking.
- You wish to enlighten the masses as to the ONE REAL TRUTH.
Your motivations are pure, and your comments welcome if:
- Your specialized knowledge will contribute to the truth and accuracy of a discussion, and that is, in fact, what you wish to do.
*Funk & Wagnalls Standard Dictionary, International Edition. Funk & Wagnalls, US 1970. 929.