AS someone who grew up with the internet, I’m no stranger to online discourse, and being a massive linguistics nerd, the way in which some people judge others for how they choose to express themselves will never not fascinate me.

Pointing out typos in place of addressing arguments, mocking accents and speech patterns rather than flawed logic or talking points, the importance often seems to be placed less on what someone is actually talking about, and more about how many “mistakes” they make while doing so.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not for one moment suggesting that I’m immune from a compulsion to disagree with people, as I am and always have been a contrary wee besom unable to shut my mouth, but I feel this gives me an insight into the ways in which I, and others, approach disagreement..

In a bid to appear both intellectually and morally superior, discourse often overlooks the actual arguments being presented, and instead focuses on the manner in which the person communicating is speaking, or writing those arguments.

A prime example of this is those who, unsolicited, go out of their way to correct the spelling and grammar of others. I’m a firm believer that if you can understand what someone meant to the extent that you feel qualified to offer a correction, and you proceed to do so, you’re just being pedantic.

I know, I know, some people base their entire existence on the art of pedantry, but it’s a well-known fact that trying to make other people feel small will never help you grow as a person. As a polyglot I adore studying the grammar of English and other languages, but when it comes to conversations with others, what someone is saying will always be the important part, not the way in which they phrase or spell their argument, conjugate their verbs or omit/subvert certain linguistic conventions.

Perhaps it’s because I am an atrocious speller, or maybe it’s because I regularly engage with a language which has no standardised orthography, but I simply do not see the need for people to go out of their way to correct the written expression of others.

A while ago, I put up a post about how far I felt I’d come from the shy, withdrawn person who would sooner shut herself in her room than engage with people. I spoke about my mental health and how I felt “infinitely” better. I’ve always struggled with that word, I’ve spelt it wrongly so many times, my autocorrect has learned it as an alternative spelling, which feels a little disloyal, but I digress.

I wasn’t writing an essay, or an article, or anything other than a happy, spontaneous post about the importance of not letting poor mental health preclude you from doing what you love with your life, a point that was lost on the people who swooped in to correct me. Would that a spelling mistake were the worst sin I had committed.

A perfect employment of spelling and grammar is a terrible metric for both intellect, and empathy. The most heinous bigots in the world can have flawless command over the written word, and most actually do. If you’re still of the mindset that a lack of grammatical mistakes has any correlation to being a decent person, ask yourself why some elected officials are the most articulate orators while also embodying the very worst bigotry that humanity has to offer.

There’s also a point to be made that correcting someone’s spelling without them asking fails to take into account any disabilities that a person might have, and it presumes a level of education that not everyone is privileged enough to be able to access. Intelligence comes in many forms and while having a good grasp on spelling and grammar is essential to learning a language, the way you utilise language to either uplift and support those around you or to demean them and make them feel small is infinitely more important.

Another area people feel qualified and entitled to judge others on is accent. A recent example of this was when Alan Brown, a Scottish member of the UK parliament was reportedly the first MP to be asked to provide a translation for the official record due to his Scottish accent.

Prejudices like this lead to the phenomenon of “uni accents” where people who attend university attempt to adopt a more “neutral” or “softer” accent than the one they grew up with. This change in accent is done in an attempt to fit into the culture and community of the university, or to avoid judgement, which inevitably leads to further negativity surrounding accents.

Cultural perceptions of accents get deeply ingrained within societies and are often developed over the course of many years. The judgement someone faces based on their accent or the way they speak exemplifies a complex mixture of prejudices, such as classism, racism and ableism

An example of the latter came earlier this year when Love Island contestant Tasha, who uses a cochlear implant, received undue ridicule for the way she expresses herself, using what is commonly known in the deaf community as a “deaf accent”.

Despite this criticism, Tasha has continued to be a fierce advocate for herself and others, vowing to work with charities which uplift and support the deaf community. It is only through better representation of the diversity of expression, that people can feel emboldened to speak up for themselves, in the way they want to speak. Despite this people often defend the homogenisation of accents by claiming that it aids communication, and avoids a barrier to understanding, however the onus never seems to be on those using RP accents to simply engage with accents outwith theirs.

The truth is that someone who speaks using a received pronunciation accent, with faultless spelling and grammar is no better than someone who uses “there” instead of “they’re”, omits apostrophes or uses what would be considered a regional accent.

You can, of course think what you want. If you’d like to cling to your linguistic prejudices like the rotting wood of a wrecked ship rather than endure the brief swim to a safe and inclusive island of mutual respect and tolerance, that is your prerogative. Consider keeping it to urself.