Giving Back Profiles: Charleston Proper
A local writer schools readers in grammar through her humorous book series
In the South, we’re proud to be proper. Even our slang y’alls and ma’ams have precisely placed apostrophes. So in 2006, when Alabama- and Maryland-bred CofC student Sharon Eliza Nichols saw a King Street sign advertising “Applications Excepted,” she decided to put the incorrect usage in its proper place—on the World Wide Web. In the years since she launched Facebook group “I judge you when you use poor grammar,” Nichols has rallied 480,000 punctuation police, who reinforce the laws of the written word by posting photographs of comic offenders. And St. Martin’s Press has compiled the results into two hysterical gift books, available at Blue Bicycle Books and from national book sellers.
Last November, after 2009’s wildly successful run of I Judge You When You Use Poor Grammar, the local author released More Badder Grammar!, her second collection of language mix-ups, mistakes, and mayhem. In addition to the expected troubles with possessives and the triple whammy of to, two, and too, humorously captioned photos show ironic misspellings (“PTA speghetti dinner”) and careless commercial signs (“We are experimenting a technical problem…”). Thankfully, our resident grammar governor is always armed with her cell phone camera and an eye for errors, so locals can rest assured that the signs on Charleston’s properties will remain ever proper.
Photographs by Staci Wittenburg and Juan Fonseca