10. It was the critic Alexander who put me on my guard against unnecessary fault-finding. People should not be sharply corrected for bad grammar, provincialisms or mispronunciation; it is better to suggest the proper expression by tactfully introducing it oneself in, say, one’s reply to a question or one’s acquiescence in their sentiments, or into a friendly discussion of the topic itself (not of the diction), or by some other suitable form of reminder.
This is something I need to work on, as I’m a great stickler about language and its correct usage. In The Waste Books Lichtenberg says:
Rousseau was right to call accent the soul of speech and we often regard people as stupid and when we look into it we find it is merely the simple sound of their manner of speaking.
But language is free to everyone and the rules are not that terribly difficult so why should a person choose to sound less intelligent to a majority of the population unless out of sheer bloody-mindedness?
As I said, I need to work on this one, though as I’ve grown older I’ve become less pedantic (outwardly, anyway), but that’s to be expected because, in looking for identity, the young are often more passionate about their opinions than the older, whose thoughts are tempered by confidence in oneself and one’s place in the world.