Monday, May 07, 2012

Warning: grammar/spelling rant ahead.

 There's something pretty insidious about spelling and grammar. Insidious because in English, it can creep up on you in often-illogical ways, smacking you upside the head with an errant I or GH... And to me specifically, it is insidious in how well spelling in particular is embedded in my brain to the extent that I have uncontrollable reactions to bad spelling (and sometimes to bad grammar, but I can be more forgiving of that.

I'm a English prof, with a PhD in Literature, so one can imagine I write, speak, and spell well. I do. I don't do it all the time, and certainly don't expect everyone to do so. However, the rise of the internet has exposed me to far too many truly horrific examples of writing which demonstrates a not even creative way with spelling, but a careless way. It's not that people CAN'T spell; rather, it is that they don't think it matters, that their rants, raves, comments, blogs, etc, will be crystal clear to everyone, even if the audience doesn't live in the blogger's head.

This drives me batshit sometimes. My theory is that if you put your crap out there in public in a serious manner, as something important and worth saying, then treat it as worth expressing well. I understand when people are having fun, like with kittehs and goggies, but that's specific, intentional, and even has a grammar (for real). I understand dialect, jargon, and even argot-- but I don't understand lazy expression, especially when the subject seems of such great import to the writer.

Yes, in a way I'm ranting. But when I write a sentence on the board with no punctuation, no transitions, poor spelling, etc-- my students look at it and will say, "What's it say? It doesn't make sense!" We then try to figure out what the person meant to say, rewrite, and even if they persist in poor writing online, they understand that HOW you say what you say is very influential on its meaning. They know when they can hear and understand or read and comprehend then certain basic patterns have been followed and that is what makes communication WORK.

I'm not picking on any one person here. And yes, my own MS may impact my ability to spell (I don't use spellcheck, preferring to edit as I go). But seriously-- if you think your experiences and worldview is worth sharing on a widely public sphere online-- give more than a passing thought to its expression. It will help make your voice more powerful and, in some respect, more meaningful.

 Here endeth the lesson/rant.


Dabble and the Mad Sow said...

I'm with you!

Muffie said...

U R so write. i think these riters need a gud coorse in bassic english.
PS Are you scraping your nails down the board as you read that??

Doc said...

Nope. I've seen so much worse in those very Basic English courses you pseudo mock. Plus, it's all whiteboards now.:)