I am not ordinarily a grammar Nazi. Not of the spoken word, anyway. Today, however, the fragile sheet of paper which gathers collective human intelligence was threatened and I could not stand idly by.
I was with a group of people doing some site work for the approaching Renaissance Fair, and I overheard a conversation between two of my fellow volunteers. One of them, a grown man (I do use that term loosely, FYI) was counseling a 14 year old girl about her grammar. He told her… Are you ready? that “taut” and “taunt” mean the same thing.
I wanted to stay out of it, friends, I truly did. Of all the grammatical errors to make, it’s not that bad. But I didn’t want this poor girl to be embarrassed by using the wrong word because he’s an idiot. So I corrected him, tried to make a joke that we could all laugh at, together, rather than making him the butt of a joke.
He said, “Well, then, a LOT of people are using that word wrong! Even people with degrees!” <silence> “Degrees in English!”
I didn’t realize we were using the Dictionary of Popular Use.