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Dear Pedant… We have a Failure to Communicate

This morning it was pointed out to me that somewhere I’ve written the phrase “for all intensive purposes” instead of “for all intents and purposes.” A fair enough comment had it not been a personal attack over a private matter. Hey, I write rapid unedited blog posts and rant on Twitter. My journalism qualifications are hardly in evidence.

At my graduation from the Master of Business Administration degree in 2010

First, let’s deal with the phrase “for all intensive purposes” being considered an idiotic error that pushes me into the unfathomable bowels of illiteracy (in a country where around half the population are functionally illiterate and/or innumerate).

The phrase “for all intensive purposes” is what can be called an eggcorn – Grammarist has as short explanation of the phrase and The Word Detective has a more fleshed out explanation.

So, while it’s not the grammatically correct “for all intents and purposes” that you learned in High School this comes down to the evolution of language over time. Remember, dictionaries follow language use and not the other way around. There aren’t a set of rules that are immutable or we’d be talking and writing in a Middle Ages dialect. Only a few centuries ago the English language was vastly different to the ear from our current understanding.

So (a) I don’t really give a shit about pedants (b) let alone pedants with a personal motivation (c) or pedants who couldn’t be fucked reading a book to be sure they were on firm ground.

I especially don’t like pedants who will never accept that they’re wrong about their pedantic statements, or anybody who thinks I need an elephant stamp (from them) on the back of my hand before I can leave class at lunch time. So yeah… that get-fucked-hand-gesture thing is appropriate.

As for whether a typo or grammatical error would make me an idiot. That’s interesting. I’m another sort of pedant; I point to my qualifications.

I graduated from the University of Tasmania in 2008 with a Bachelor of Computing. My average mark across the degree was a fraction under 80% and I was placed on the Dean’s Roll of Excellence for the Faculty of Science, Engineering and Technology for 2007. During the early part of this undergraduate degree I also completed TAFE Certificate 4 in Website Design, TAFE Certificate 4 in Website Administration, Cisco CCNA 1 Networking Basics and Cisco CCNA 2 Routers and Routing Basics. Hardly the pursuit of ignorance.

In 2010 I graduated from the University of Tasmania with a Master of Business Administration (Specialisation)… my specialisation was coursework Journalism & Media Studies – Media Writing and Advanced Journalism. After graduation I studied more postgraduate journalism when I completed Investigative Journalism. It was taught by respected conflict journalist John Martinkus. He is what I would call dogged. Again, my average mark as a postgraduate student is almost spot on 80%. So yes, I’m actually qualified to spurt puffery like I shit business strategy for breakfast. I can tell by your current situation that you certainly do not (inserts loud exasperating sigh at your current business model, Mr Pedant).

I’ve always been a higher percentile student and refused invitations to join the Golden Key International Honour Society throughout my university education.

My point is that regardless of the above pedantry – I’m an educated man. I can send you a copy of my qualifications that you can verify. And writing online certainly doesn’t mean that I have to produce editorial quality output for your satisfaction. I have a computing qualification (and trade certificates) and an MBA with post graduate journalism on the board. All with high marks.

So I hear two things through my (proven) highly educated brain when you criticise my grammar like it means something (about winning and losing) re: intelligence: either (a) you may be six years old on some level, or (b) you are in need of a good education to see the meaninglessness of this level of pedantry outside an academic essay or a newspaper. Because it doesn’t matter. It’s a zero. We’re not playing Scrabble. And I dislike you (probably more than you dislike me) so I don’t give a toss that you feel bad today. In fact, I salute the Black Dog for not visiting me.

All you need to understand is that the World has changed. Pedantry won’t make this about winners vs losers. It’s just changed. All the points you make are moot. I don’t give a toss.

However, and even you would have to agree with the logic of this piece of wisdom, you can at least make 100% sure when you be petty about my writing that you understand the parameters of the conversation. This is a blog. That other is on Twitter. You’re dismissed.

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About the Author

Steven Clark Steven Clark - the stand up guy on this site

My name is Steven Clark (aka nortypig) and I live in Southern Tasmania. I have an MBA (Specialisation) and a Bachelor of Computing from the University of Tasmania. I'm a photographer making pictures with film. A web developer for money. A business consultant for fun. A journalist on paper. Dreams of owning the World. Idea champion. Paradox. Life partner to Megan.

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