Grammatical pet hates.

The standard of written English seems to have taken a radical nosedive in the last few years. So much so that I begin to feel like written English is almost a second language to many on the internet.

So many times I see ANGRY SHOUTY PEOPLE who haven’t discovered that you can turn off the caps lock key. Others who write in lowercase and forget that occasionally the beginning of a sentance and people’s names might like the odd capital at the front. Then there’s tHe onEs WhO wRiTE liKe TheY ArE ransoming a Teddy. Yet more treat punctuation like a game of pin the tail on the Donkey. And a little grammatical note: there should not be a space between the word and the question/exclamation mark. I’ve also seen those who have heard about punctuation, but haven’t worked out that commas and full stops don’t like to be out on their own, but prefer to tag on the end of a word.

Then there’s the semi colon and the apostrophe – don’t get me started on them! The apostrophe denotes the possessive as well as standing in for missing words in contractions. Only a small number of unusual plurals might need them (like date numbers: 1980’s because there are ten of those pesky little years in there). The semi colon actually has some quite important uses. Remember kids: it isn’t just one half of a smily face 😉 Two halves of a sentance that are losely connected but not directly connected are seperated by one instead of a comma: “The man picked up his umbrella; it was a rainy day outside”. Then there is seperation of list items: Like this; from this. Actually, a semi colon should appear far more often than a colon does in written English; rarely it does these days.

Other pet gripes include mixing up of there, their, and they’re. Remember: ‘there’ does not cover all three, no matter how often people try to shoe-horn it in. Then of course there is also the rise of the evil of html emails. Really, I don’t think that an email message that flashes in red and green on a glitter background adds anything to the message. If you can’t say it in ASCII, then really it wasn’t worth saying at all.

I learnt all of the above at school. I remember being there, and remember a lot of other people being there. Have many people at large really forgotten how to communicate in writing?

2 thoughts on “Grammatical pet hates.

  • 27 November 2009 at 13:28
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    “Have many people at large really forgotten how to communicate in writing?”

    Most people never knew. I went to school with an almost entire school’s worth of pupils who never paid attention, so their ability to command the intricasies of our beloved language was never developed in the first place.

    You can’t forget what you did not know.

  • 30 November 2009 at 07:24
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    “The standard of written English seems to have taken a radical nosedive in the last few years. So much so that I begin to feel like written English is almost a second language to many on the internet.”

    That is because English is a second language for many internet users.

    Also, the internet is a democratic publishing format. In the world of published prose, editors serve the role of gatekeeper. They filter out less than acceptable writing. They also airbrush out imperfections. Your average internet writer does have access to these luxuries.

    Also, the democratic nature of the internet also means people who normally would not write or whose writings would be confined to personal letters, diaries, or other limited-circulation formats are now placing their writing where the world can see. Having read lots of personal letters, diaries, and journals for a sundry of historical research projects, I am amused at how bad the writing is. However, a letter in an archive rarely gets the same level of readership as even the most neglected blog, so nobody is there to call it out, or even feel that calling it out is a worthwhile endeavor.

    Finally, the Internet is a forum that values speed over perfection. Good-enough-to-understand grammar today is preferable to perfect grammar tomorrow. I’m sure you’ll gasp in horror and even weep at my writing, but my opinions are either to post quick and dirty or not-post. A random comment on a point of irritation is simply not worth the time it takes me to edit it. Being learning-disabled and poor, I can’t pay people to edit it and editing eats up time better spent elsewhere. So I toss it out as finished as possible and suck-up the occasional snide remark.

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