<Warning! I let my snob flag fly a bit in this post.>
I value the importance of spelling and grammar. I would consider myself quite the pedant in this regard. However, I would also acknowledge that I am only human and I have been known to make the occasional mitsake wen it comes to gramer and speling.
I believe most of my social circle are similarly keen on upholding the rules of the language in its oral and written forms as I don’t often see too many transgressions in blogposts or on Facebook and Twitter. I do see absolute howlers from clients and co-workers which surprises me as I tend to consider that most of them are very well educated. It just goes to show that a good education does not equal top quality literacy standards.
When I found out I was pregnant, I joined an online community of expectant mothers. It is a place where we come and vent our problems or ask others about what’s going on for them. “Is <insert embarrassing symptom> normal at X weeks of pregnancy?”…that sort of thing. I have found it difficult to understand quite a number of the posts and replies in this forum. I was absolutely shocked and appalled at the standard of written language amongst these women.
I’ve never been comfortable accepting the view that “as long as the message is conveyed, what does it matter if the spelling or grammar is wrong”. The rules of language are there to keep us on the right track. Just like on the road, if we follow the rules we can all get along. Stop signs, traffic lights and speed limits all serve a purpose and keep us from crashing into one another. Full stops, commas and correct spelling do the same for language.
I began to keep a log of misdemeanours for my own amusement. There are the usual suspects such as the your/you’re confusion and the there/their/they’re debacle as well as the than/then fiasco…and don’t even start me on lose/loose. I think I should buy a lotto ticket every time someone gets one of those right! Here are a few others I’d noted:
panflet = pamphlet
binnie = beanie
morology = morphology …ok, I’ll concede this might be a difficult word for some.
kneck = neck
lumber = lumbar …don’t you hate it when your back is as stiff as a board!
thort = thought
threw = through
witch = which
hole = whole
symiltaniously = simultaneously
…and I could go on but I won’t.
I think the ones that disturb me most and cause this to be an actual problem are those where the word supplied is a real word but not the intended word. Homophones. They’ll get you!
The problem, as I see it, is that the message isn’t being conveyed. I genuinely struggle to understand what they are saying. I can read pretty well and I can understand quite a bit but putting in real words out of context like “hole” when you mean “whole” can really change the sense of the sentence. Similarly, omitting commas and full stops really messes with my head!!! I want to tear out my eyes in frustration. I find that I can only read one or two of these garbled messages before I lose my rag…or do I mean loose my wragg?
There is famously a letter which, just by changing the punctuation, has two very different messages to convey:
I want a man who knows what love is all about. You are generous, kind, thoughtful. People who are not like you admit to being useless and inferior. You have ruined me for other men. I yearn for you. I have no feelings whatsoever when we’re apart. I can be forever happy–will you let me be yours?
I want a man who knows what love is. All about you are generous, kind, thoughtful people, who are not like you. Admit to being useless and inferior. You have ruined me. For other men, I yearn. For you, I have no feelings whatsoever. When we’re apart, I can be forever happy. Will you let me be?
Even as I write this, I can feel my temperature rise with anger and frustration at the plight of our language so I might move on to the Musical Challenge. To quote from one of the forum participants, I “nipped it in the butt”!!!!!
Speaking of Musical challenge, Jackie continues her winning streak. She has answered all three songs correctly. Can anyone stop this runaway winner? Here’s today’s offering: