• Grammar: One Step Forward, Too Steppes Bak

    Posted Posted by Guest Writer in Rants & Raves     Comments 5 comments
    Jan
    18

    By Danielle White

    Instant Messenger taught me how to type. Maybe not entirely–fundamentally, Type to Learn taught me how to type, but nowhere near as efficiently as when I started chatting with my friends online. (Funny how in both cases it was a program rather than a person.) Type to Learn was structured and precise, following the rules of punctuation and capitalization. It taught me the correct mode of formal language. Instant messaging, on the other hand, was completely casual. Spellchecker was available, but always seemed misplaced, an absurd amenity. IM was a means to an end. Have idea. Form words to express idea. Repeat. Grammar? Punctuaton? See ya tomorrow in English class.

    What I was able to draw from these opposing teachers is that usage has a time and place. When composing a college essay, a company-wide email, or hell, even a blog post, it is necessary to correctly use the tools of grammar. Who wants to look like an illiterate jackass in front of a professor, coworkers, peers, or even a remote stranger perusing the Internet? Yet once we step into our comfort zones and communicate with the world via text messages, Facebook postings, and Twitter updates, our words become like a pair of well-worn slippers. Who cares how they look?

    It almost feels as though our language is devolving, as it becomes more attuned to the way we speak rather than the way we should be expressing ideas in written format. I sometimes wonder if we will debase the English language so much that it will become a series of grunts and shrieking noises to imply like or dislike. Why argue with your mate when you can just crouch in the corner and make hissing noises when he or she comes near?

    I have to say I blame our beloved technology for this rift. Devices such as Spellchecker fail to pick up on the misuse of homonyms. There, their, they’re. You’re and your. Somewhat recently, I received an email from a job recruiter that was signed, “Your welcome for the opportunity.” Honestly, I had trouble taking her seriously after that. And it isn’t only a fault of the individual. Another instance that struck me was on a company’s website: “Contact page is under construction. Thank you for your patients.”

    My personal favorite is this text message I occasionally receive from my cell phone service provider. I recently switched over to a prepaid phone and toward the end of the month I will get messages such as this: “Add a 750 min card to keep ur service active.” I get that it’s probably a marketing technique geared toward the texting generation, of which I am a member, but I just find it hilarious.

    I think the most appalling thing about our culture’s general deficiency with grammar is that it would take so little time and effort to double check ourselves. It literally would take a person seconds to pull up dictionary.com or Wikipedia on a computer or smart phone. In this age of instant gratification, why are we so careless with the words we are presenting to the world?

     

    Danielle White lives and works in central Massachusetts. She graduated from Franklin Pierce University in 2009 with a BA in English. She has since been published in 2 literary magazines, City Lines and Student At Large. Apart from reading and writing, she enjoys sipping a well-made martini, buying shoes, and sleeping in.

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    Laura Roberts

    Oh, man. Do NOT get me started on people and their continual misappropriation of apostrophes! I’d refer you to The Oatmeal’s excellent comic on the subject, but his website is currently blacked out in protest of SOPA and PIPA. C’est la vie.

    David Duhr

    Speaking of apostrophes, did you see that Waterstone’s is now Waterstones? Lots of Brits (and others) are irritated. Politely, of course.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/retailandconsumer/9007692/Waterstones-drops-its-apostrophe.html

    Leah Kaminsky

    Hey they’re just pluralizing their business. That’s called innovation.

    Leah Kaminsky

    Another problem with technology is that it trains us to process things too quickly. For a fast typer like myself, I often miss dinky spelling and grammar errors that would bother me in someone else’s work, simply because I’m reading it all too fast. I also rhyme or omit words, and exhibit classic speech errors, just written down. This I believe is a pretty common trait for writers, which is why every writing instructor since the dawn of time has suggested reading your own work aloud. Being in super-fast technology mode only worsens this natural problem, since we tend skim… Read more »

    haq

    i frequently get problem while writing formally. i could be learn from anywhere how to impove my writing skills formally. kindly help me in this regard




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