Grammar Nazi

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For some background on the X Nazi construction, see "X Nazi", 4/7/2004; "Birth of a Sentence", 2/10/2007; "Shooting down 'amateur grammar nazis'", 10/8/2007; "Grasshoppers and women on horseback as frogs", 6/15/2008; "The Health Nazi", 1/31/2010.


  1. Sili said,

    May 13, 2010 @ 6:52 am

    Hoist by his own putain.

  2. notrequired said,

    May 13, 2010 @ 8:16 am

    When I think of grammar nazis I think of Herr Flick and Herr von Smallhausen of ze Gestapo.

  3. Arnold Zwicky said,

    May 13, 2010 @ 10:23 am

    More discussion of grammar Nazi on my blog, here.

  4. Ray Girvan said,

    May 13, 2010 @ 12:04 pm

    It's a pity the copyright Nazis stepped in over the spoof-dubbed Downfall clips. The excellent one where Bruno Ganz's Hitler rants …

    "You guys are like some kind of grammar authorities or some, some kind of grammar… strict police… dammit! What's the word I'm looking for? I'm thinking of an authoritarian regime or something with the streets filled with like uniformed soldiers that arrest people for the slightest offence. It was on the tip of my tongue, god damn it. Well, you know what I mean."

    … would have been pertinent here.

    [(myl) Yes, I failed to link to "Some kind of grammar, um, strict police", 2/24/2009, for that reason.]

  5. Barbara Partee said,

    May 13, 2010 @ 1:15 pm

    Oh gosh, am I the only one who just couldn't watch that without getting knots in my stomach? I understand why it's funny in principle but I just couldn't …
    sorry …

    [(myl) That's a good example of why the Wiktionary entry for Nazi says

    3. (slang) A person considered unfairly oppressive or needlessly strict. (Considered an offensive usage)

    It's interesting that the dubbed Downfall version didn't (in my opinion) suffer from this problem.]

  6. Not Amused said,

    May 13, 2010 @ 2:31 pm

    Barbara Partee –
    You are not alone. Regardless of what dictionaries say, this video is highly offensive. Just in my opinion, of course.

    Reb Liberman, to post this was a major faux pas.

  7. blahedo said,

    May 13, 2010 @ 3:12 pm

    I definitely found it stressful to watch, but I think that's partially because it plays it *so* straight, with movie-type camera shots and production values. I have a feeling that precisely the same scene played out in Monty-Python-level sound stages and cameras would have lost that edge.

    Still, I kind of snickered a little at the "which stylebook" line and I guffawed at the final punchline (though I do think the last shot was needlessly graphic).

  8. Chris Brew said,

    May 13, 2010 @ 3:16 pm

    This is a direct riff on a scene from Quentin Tarantino's "Inglourious Basterds". The original scene depicts evil dead straight, for emotional impact, even though later in the film the director experiments with various forms of black humour. I am pretty sure I would be shocked and offended by the parody if I did not know about the original. It still disturbs me even when I know that it is a parody. I suspect part of the trouble is that the actors are really good at evoking the dark realities of the setting, so the rather silly humor feels particularly out of place. In the end grammar is usually not a matter of life and death.

  9. Olga said,

    May 13, 2010 @ 3:46 pm

    What Christ Brew said. The scene in the movie is sickening, and the parody here has a similar effect, even though I recognized the source right away. Possibly relevant here is the observation that a term like Grammar Nazi does not travel into German — a Grammatiknazi (or similar constructions) is not a word you can use, not even among left-wing linguists. Probably an interesting point about semantics, somehow.

  10. Andrej Bjelakovic said,

    May 13, 2010 @ 6:13 pm

    It's worth noting, though, that the original scene is by no means devoid of humor. It's the combination of the general horror and suspense of the scene and the little absolutely hilarious details that makes it so great. It's Tarantino through and through.

  11. Brian said,

    May 13, 2010 @ 11:38 pm

    For me, what was also really out of place was watching a Nazi (clearly intended to be the real thing, i.e. a German from the 1940s) discussing finer points of English.

  12. Stephen Jones said,

    May 14, 2010 @ 9:01 am

    Why don't I get to see the video in either Firefox or IE?

  13. Atrectus said,

    May 14, 2010 @ 11:51 am

    Me too – totally blank in Safari 4.0.2 and Firefox 3.0.1, both for Macintosh

  14. Not Amused said,

    May 14, 2010 @ 11:58 am

    @Stephen Jones
    You might want to check your Adobe Flash Player status.

  15. Stephen Jones said,

    May 14, 2010 @ 2:18 pm

    It's the Saudi censorship blocking the clip is hosted on. I'll try and access through an anonymous proxy.

  16. Stephen Jones said,

    May 14, 2010 @ 2:22 pm

    Just get a video not found message when I access through an anonymous proxy.

  17. K. said,

    May 15, 2010 @ 2:27 am

    @Brian said,

    In the original film the dialogue varies among German, French, Italian and English, depending on what is appropriate given the characters and the scene. In the original film, this particular scene takes place between a Frenchman and a German and is indeed spoken in English. The officer initially claims that the reason for this is because he has heard the farmer has some proficiency in English and he (the officer) would like to practice his own English. It is ultimately revealed that the real reason is because he doesn't want the French-speaking Jews hiding in the home to understand the conversation.

  18. Azimuth said,

    May 18, 2010 @ 2:52 am

    "It's a pity the copyright Nazis stepped in over the spoof-dubbed Downfall clips. The excellent one where Bruno Ganz's Hitler rants …"

    …is currently here:

  19. Aaron Davies said,

    May 21, 2010 @ 2:14 am

    i imagine the downfall clip is less offensive for multiple reasons. first, there's context–no one's being threatened in it; in fact, hitler's clearly at the end of his rope. i haven't seen the actual downfall, but it's fairly obvious from the visuals (and the prominent "Stalin!") (not to mention the general context of the film) that he's already well into losing the war. this is not a situation that tends to evoke stress from the viewer.

    second, there's familiarity–i doubt "grammar nazi" was most people's first downfall clip.

    for contrast, imagine, say, a mashup of triumph of the will proclaiming that world domination will inevitably follow from grammatical perfection. i imagine some might find that slightly sinister, if not as emotionally stressful as a good suspense sequence.

  20. Jordan Boyd-Graber said,

    May 25, 2010 @ 7:53 pm

    I enjoyed this clip, but what bothered me more than anything else was that the Grammar Nazi did not correct the line "see if it was her." (Based on either mood or case.)

  21. Silence Is Golden said,

    September 2, 2010 @ 1:48 pm

    @Jordan: Exactly!

    Oh, come on, people — I'm a German editor/translator and I found this clip funny. Some dark humor, anybody? [After all, the Nazi dies in the end. So all's well again.]

    That's me there, at work! (And yes, there are times I should shoot myself, too.)

    The Grammar Nazi is just like the Soup Nazi from Seinfeld — with the exception that his rules actually make sense.

  22. germanismus der woche: gauleiter « lexikographieblog said,

    February 10, 2012 @ 8:21 am

    […] hier eine Bedeutungserweiterung ergeben (ähnlich wie beim Nazi, den es ja mittlerweile auch als Grammar Nazi und in anderen Varianten gibt). Da es um den gauleiter seit Anfang der Woche so große Aufregung […]

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