This blog is highly personal, makes no attempt at being politically correct, will occasionaly offend your sensibility, and certainly does not represent the opinions of the people I work with or for.
Exposing myself as a grammar nazi

I have a (first year) student whom I used to teach during the first semester who has been sending emails to me over the past few months asking for various things [he is obviously preparing for the exam period, incidentally happening this month]. Some of them are very... funny. I do my best to reply to him but I also know that he is asking them because his lecturers didn't care (or didn't have the time) to tell him/them things that would have been my starting point, had I been in charge of the teaching.

Anyway, my answer today exposes me as a grammar nazi, and I only write this entry because just after replying to him I came back to the reading I was doing (a Masters course) and started to notice that the author of that course doesn't have the same standards as myself :)

Student's email

Regarding the notation there, isn't OK to replace the part of the definition where they say for all n, m greater than or equal to n_{0}, in the symbolic notation they used, by what I have written in the PIC? Seems simpler, so why didn't they use that if it's OK?

My Reply

Let me show you something....

You often hear black people (notably in the US) say things like "I don't believe you no more". Whereas the grammatically correct expression is "I don't believe you anymore".

Now imagine a foreigner (say a French pupil saying to his English teacher in France): "Why cannot I say the first sentence ? I hear it often in movies, and when I say it to my English friends everybody understands me, and it's simpler than having to remember to use _any_".

What should the teacher reply ? Probably that the fact that black people use it doesn't make it grammatically correct, even if everybody understands when they say it.

Anyway, in your case, the mathematical equivalent of black slang is fine during a first year exam :-)

Anyway, all this would not happen if we taught them correctly.

[ add a comment ]