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Author Topic: A Rant, in which I express displeasure at the lack of proper English usage.  (Read 15695 times)
HAC
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« on: September 14, 2007, 01:15:43 am »

 Angry  Is it just me, or are there others who are beginning to be bothered by posts that border on the unintelligible?
I know that my typing is not my strongest asset, but I have at least started to use the spell check function a bit more regularly..
  If I'm in the minority, then juts tell me, and I'll go take my medications..

Cheers
Harold
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« Reply #1 on: September 14, 2007, 01:24:09 am »

You are not alone  Wink

(i hope this thread will not develop into a flame-the-gramatically-challenged party.)
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« Reply #2 on: September 14, 2007, 01:26:49 am »

The standard of english on this board is certainly somewhat higher than most other social forums on the web.

I must confess, I am too damned lazy to spellcheck, and drop apostraphes and capitalisations constantly. My years of using microsoft word have much to answer for.
Personally, I do not care too much about peoples simple spelling/typo errors, or missing punctuation of the minor sort. As long as my dear friends the comma, and the full stop are in evidence, and massive blocks of text are broken up into digestabilty by paragraph breaks of some kind, I find things to be perfectly readable.

If i were to be fussy, the most common gramatical errors on this forum stem from peoples attempts to use archaic vocabulary, or flowery turns of phrase without really understanding the definition and usage of the words in question. This is the kind of thing that a normal unspecialised education misses however, so it shouldn't really be criticised.

B thankfll dere isnt NE TXT SPK!!11!!1
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HAC
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« Reply #3 on: September 14, 2007, 01:38:45 am »

What I find annoying , is the post that has no attempt at punctuation, or style, but rambles along, or is in what I believe was called here "AOL-ish".  I suppose it could be worse, and degenerate into something akin to texting. No matter how good your contribution may be, if it's really hard to understand what you are saying, you might as well, not say it.
  Its even worse than an affected style that seeks to mimic what one believes is a regional or period form of speech.

Should I join you Sir, in the typing in a regional accent? My family is from Lancashire originally, and my granddad had a rather broad accent, or should perhaps use the Phil Harding school of speech? Jeffrey Farnol, would be fun, as well..(belike!) 
k? by thnks

Cheers
Harold
« Last Edit: September 14, 2007, 01:50:31 am by HAC » Logged
Lizbt Action
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« Reply #4 on: September 14, 2007, 01:40:56 am »

I completely and utterly agree.
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Sir Ratchetspanner
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« Reply #5 on: September 14, 2007, 02:01:22 am »

I am bi-lingual myself. Saaf lundun by blood, tyke by upbringing. My accent wanders from public schoolboy to broad yorkshire unconciously, or I can conciously adopt one or the other.

I once made my living as a technical writer, and i still have many writing habits picked up from that time. I write with my mind on the overall structure, and the careful laying out of the argument. Such trifles as spelling and semi-colons are left for the final editing. Of course, on a forum i frequently neglect this last step. It makes for a readable composition, but not for a moral high ground from which to throw slings and arrows at the english skills of others.

I strongly suspect many people attempting to affect a more period form of speach, or a more upper crust manner, have not actually spoken to any members of what remains of the gentry. Well bred types still exist, hiding in the home counties, and the wilds of north yorkshire. Not neccesarily just the chinless wonders from eton, or actual titled gentry, but also people with an old fashioned education and outlook, and old family.

In my experience, these people are some of the least snobbish people you could wish to meet. They clump about Harrogate in their green wellington boots, and their grandfathers coat, with great great grandfathers pipe between their lips. They do not suffer from yuppie identity crisies, or any need to accumalate status. This makes them some of the most down to earth people you can find. The modern english aristocrat is usually mistaken for his groundskeeper until he opens his mouth.
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Mad Maxine
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« Reply #6 on: September 14, 2007, 02:30:25 am »

I definitely have issues with poor grammar. Everyone makes mistakes, but those who apply no effort whatsoever are hard for me to take seriously.
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phineas sheridan
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« Reply #7 on: September 14, 2007, 02:42:14 am »

as is evident, i do not like capitalization. my psychiatrist might say it has something to do with a problem of uniformity or something, but i think capital letters are unnecessary. that, of course is imho.

oh well

d
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« Reply #8 on: September 14, 2007, 02:57:59 am »

No, you are not alone.  It irritates me that I regularly find errors in magazines, on-line news sources and on product packaging as well.  It does seem to have started (or, at least, I started noticing it more) about the same time as the internet boom.  Unfortunately, it is probably not a trend that will change as it seems most people don't have any idea how to spell correctly and no one is bothering to point it out to them.  Not that they would likely care, anyway.  I'm sure teaching and enforcing proper grammar and spelling would somehow oppress someone's freedom of personal expression or some such nonsense.  It won't be much longer before "texting" shorthand pollutes everything and us "old timers" won't have any idea what's going on!  Wink

JIT
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« Reply #9 on: September 14, 2007, 03:00:01 am »

While I may not be the most educated person here (only having an ATA Degree in Culinary Arts, and a second AAS thats focused in Philosophy). I do try to use proper grammer and sentence structure when I post.

I have to agree though that knowledgeable use of the common language seems to be heading south (and thats not just here either, but even people out on the street too). It is hard to understand a persons statement when all the words that make up the paragraph, are compressed into a single sentence, words are spelled incorrectly, and/or the posting format (how the sentences are put together) seem to be nonexistent.

While for the most part people here post using a sense of correctness. I do feel that as "Steampunk" becomes more and more popular, the understanding of some posts might need a linguists to figure out the context of meaning in them. Luckily things haven't gotten that bad yet.

Here's to hoping that things never will.
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Hex
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« Reply #10 on: September 14, 2007, 03:07:50 am »

When online I'm reasonably forgiving when it come to spelling and grammar.
 
Though being deliberately lazy or making a post difficult to read due to sentience or paragraph structure, colour, font etc means that I will most likely skip your post or thread. I read the forum for enjoyment, deciphering nonsensical drivel holds little appeal

BTW is it just me or does the thread's title seem... off?
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« Reply #11 on: September 14, 2007, 05:05:57 am »

I haven't been here long enough to say whether the forum's collective grammar is bound for one antipode or another, but I applaud Mr. HAC for broaching the subject.  My knowledge of grammar is instinctive; I could never identify such technicalities as past pluperfect suppository clauses based on some abstract rule.  When uncertain of my usage, I consult the work of Strunk & White, happily online.  It has become fashionable in certain circles to pooh-pooh this manual, but while artistic license allows rules to be broken, it is worthwhile to know when to break them to achieve maximum efficacy.  As for spelling, recent versions of Firefox have a spellcheck feature that works in text fields.  I warn all who read this that I equate poor grammar and spelling with immaturity, as the author's real age is rarely verifiable in Aetheric transmissions.  13375p33|< is ridiculous; "chatspeak" is a pernicious effect of truncated communication (never replace "you" with u), but I tolerate circumlocution in certain contexts, as when one effects the highfalutin palaver of bygone eras.  However, I find that rambling paragraph construction is as much a symptom of foggy thinking as inadequate grammatical instruction. 
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« Reply #12 on: September 14, 2007, 05:24:45 am »

Do be outraged, HAC!  Some postings are egregiously non-HM English!
I tend to be somewhat telegraphic and/or phonetic and/or 'gonzo' in my transliterations.
It's that consarned "flow of thought" thing (and 'thing' has no object, as my old magister used to retort when I told him his was showing).
« Last Edit: September 14, 2007, 05:32:36 am by Offlogic » Logged

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Vienna Fahrmann
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« Reply #13 on: September 14, 2007, 05:44:54 am »


     A small part of the reasons I post on this board is to keep my written English in practice. 

     Vienna

     (a bit off-topic, but please excuse my errors).
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GabrielCrimson
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« Reply #14 on: September 14, 2007, 09:34:26 am »

I only have problems with people that go out of their way to type in their local accent even though they probably have the ability to express themselves (even phonetically) in a manner that can be understood. It's even worse when they write it with knowledge they're leaving things out....... 'cause dey ar jus bein' lazy
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Clym Angus
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« Reply #15 on: September 14, 2007, 12:17:48 pm »

I have encouraged "outrage" over misuse of the English language... I am "guilty, with an exokanation", as many of "us" are!

This is extraordinarily apposite. Although I would argue that "outrage" is the emotion that some mispronouncers wish to get from you.

Quoting from my Times children's writers competition entry: "Word play these days is used as a dividing line, a weapon wedged between the generations. We are constrained by the absolutes of grammar and construction that the adults adhere to and the kids rebel against. Rigidity and inflexibility maybe necessary in the wider scene of things but children's minds don't think that way, original, innovative thought doesn't work that way."

Language performs a myriad of functions reinforcing a seance of self, us and them. One mans wrong is the hallmark of another mans identity. The diversification between form and meaning create code, restricted understanding and to wit; a sence of personal belonging.

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Outa_Spaceman
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« Reply #16 on: September 14, 2007, 01:35:50 pm »

I find some posts to be on the border of unintelligible purely through, what appears to be, the use of a "yoof spk" I am not familiar with...
AOLish ?

(In real life I speak with an untamed Yorkshire dales accent...)
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GabrielCrimson
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« Reply #17 on: September 14, 2007, 01:50:13 pm »

Then again the english language is pretty bastardised anyway and is formed massively on words altered form other cultures and languages. If we were all stuck on never changing vocabulary then we'd all be speaking latin, but still it pisses me off too so ignore my objection.
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Thalesia Turnblood
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« Reply #18 on: September 14, 2007, 02:16:28 pm »

I have encouraged "outrage" over misuse of the Engllsh language... I am "guilty, with an exokanation", as many of "us" are!
By definition, "language" is how people (or robots, or anything else) makes it's meaning known to others.
(Some arbitrary rule for this exchange of ideas: you gotta have sentax, etc....).

Howver, a loophole exists, whereby folks don't have to be universally understandable (in that as long as those they want to understand them do understand them, etc) whatever they say is a language!

"Alsmost" by definitiion, that is.   But if you know what someone else is trying to tell you,  they are communicating, and if you pretend not to understand tem, well you, are really one of the "flotson/jetsam/ crouds.....


It is an old observation that the best writers sometimes disregard the rules of rhetoric. Unless he is certain of doing well, [the writer] will probably do best to follow the rules.
~ William Strunk

Stephen King, in ON WRITING, follows up that thought with:
The telling clause here is Unless he is certain of doing well. If you don't have at least a rudimentary grasp of how the parts of speech translate into coherent sentences, how can you be certain that you are doing well?

And the rest is me:
So, how do you know that people understand you? How can you be certain that you're communicating effectively when you willfully OR ignorantly misuse the rules of language? For instance, I don't understand several things about your note. What is "guilty, with an exokanation"? Who are the "us" in the following sentence?

How is it that you can spell "jetsam", but not "flotsam"? In addition, those words are used improperly. Had you used your extensive natural vocabulary to its advantage, your post would be much more understandable -- and useful in making your point. As it is, I'm struggling to form a clear picture of your meaning. You see, you used a couple of $2 words (flotson [sic]/jetsam) when a few simple 64 cent ones would have done the job more effectively. By the way, there's nothing snide intended -- any average person with an average education has an amazingly extensive vocabulary. Trust me. If you can read Verne and Wells and Gibson and Fforde, you have more than enough tools in your linguistic toolbox to accomplish the task of clear communication.

The rules of language aren't truly all that arbitrary. They exist over every linguistic code in the world, human or binary. And the rules have some flexibility, as Strunk noted above. Vocabulary, too, is flexible and ever-changing. I don't think that the addition of new words to the lexicon is at issue here.

Clear communication isn't just about rules. It has a significant subjective component. As Clym noted in the previous post, language defines who we are. It's part of the social order. (I'm sure there's room at this juncture for an entire course on the sociology of communication. I'm not going there now.)

All of that said, and whether you believe it or not, I'm really not unbearably picky about how people post. Everyone mistypes sometimes. Everyone has trouble finding the right word. And I'm all for having fun with a little purple prose or colorful usage. Style and voice are great -- they're a huge and personal part of getting to know each other in situations where written communication is all we have.

But if you consistently misuse the language, then don't be surprised when 1) fewer people read your posts and 2) they don't take what you say in them seriously, no matter your intent. If you can't be bothered to communicate clearly, then the assumption is that your idea is as muddy as your words. "Not fair!" you may cry. That's right. It's not. But then if you won't play by the rules, why should anyone else?

I do find it remarkable and comforting that many of our non-English speaking compatriots write such excellent English. It took a good deal of effort to learn to navigate our complex structure and I appreciate that. But then I have to laugh in disbelief when our native English speakers complain because not everyone understands their indecipherable pidgin.

Yup. Clear speaking. A total buzzkill.
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« Reply #19 on: September 14, 2007, 03:25:00 pm »


Language performs a myriad of functions reinforcing a seance of self, us and them. One mans wrong is the hallmark of another mans identity. The diversification between form and meaning create code, restricted understanding and to wit; a sence of personal belonging.


I had a seance of self the other day. It was very interesting to speak to my own ghost!  Wink

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Duncan Hawthorne
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« Reply #20 on: September 14, 2007, 03:26:58 pm »

I agree.  While language is something that is supposed to evolve, it is also something which has a very basic function of communication.  I know I make mistakes - the most common being my bad habit of interrupting myself.... and being a bit too elliptical in my sentence structure (ha!) - but I also try to at least be aware that written language lacks the visual cues that allow spoken language to be a bit more free in usage and style.

Honestly, the grammar and vocabulary of this board are very good contrasted with many boards I am on for other hobbies, notably music forums.  Go to a non-classical music forum for a day or two and you will breathe a sigh of relief when you return here.  

What amazes me the most about the misuse of words is that it is so easy to look something up online.  The dictionary is your friend if you are in doubt of the spelling or meaning of any word.  Yes, sometimes I get lazy, but generally I try to utilize the spell check and dictionary available on computers whenever possible.  

Generally speaking, I overlook the occasional error but with multiple infractions I give up on ever understanding someone.  I do try to keep in mind, however, that this board has people from all over the world, and that not everyone grew up speaking the Queen's English, such as silly people like myself who refuse to dignify that extra "i" in aluminum.  Wink
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« Reply #21 on: September 14, 2007, 03:27:57 pm »

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Clym Angus
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« Reply #22 on: September 14, 2007, 04:04:16 pm »


It is an old observation that the best writers sometimes disregard the rules of rhetoric. Unless he is certain of doing well, [the writer] will probably do best to follow the rules.
~ William Strunk

Stephen King, in ON WRITING, follows up that thought with:
The telling clause here is Unless he is certain of doing well. If you don't have at least a rudimentary grasp of how the parts of speech translate into coherent sentences, how can you be certain that you are doing well?

If I may lightly (and more than a little tongue in cheek) defend "my angle." So, rebutting the quotes: So William, to have an unshakable belief in your abilities as a writer is a must? I couldn't agree with you more. Now then Mr King! That (as you well know) depends entirely upon your audience. Please understand me, Thalesia. In this, I do not cock a snoop at those I respect. Oh no, I merely show the problem of "quoting Wilde".

On to your own mind where there is per chance, more furtile ground for debate.......

So, how do you know that people understand you? How can you be certain that you're communicating effectively when you willfully OR ignorantly misuse the rules of language? For instance, I don't understand several things about your note. What is "guilty, with an exokanation"? Who are the "us" in the following sentence?

Define "effectively" within this context. Text speak is effective when used to those who understand the code.

How is it that you can spell "jetsam", but not "flotsam"? In addition, those words are used improperly. Had you used your extensive natural vocabulary to its advantage, your post would be much more understandable -- and useful in making your point. As it is, I'm struggling to form a clear picture of your meaning. You see, you used a couple of $2 words (flotson [sic]/jetsam) when a few simple 64 cent ones would have done the job more effectively. By the way, there's nothing snide intended -- any average person with an average education has an amazingly extensive vocabulary. Trust me. If you can read Verne and Wells and Gibson and Fforde, you have more than enough tools in your linguistic toolbox to accomplish the task of clear communication.

This is why I have always preferred face to face meetings. A much better guage of intelligence than the mere, inferior, written word. They limit the boundless possibilities of the imagination, still, they would appear to be the most durable.

The rules of language aren't truly all that arbitrary. They exist over every linguistic code in the world, human or binary. And the rules have some flexibility, as Strunk noted above. Vocabulary, too, is flexible and ever-changing. I don't think that the addition of new words to the lexicon is at issue here.

True, your talking ignorant or malicious misuse. Difficult sometimes to tell between the two, however correction, has always and always will breed contempt. That's just humans for you. It isn't right but it's just the way it is. I think it's the reminder of the correction more than anything else. But then this is something of a departure into psychology, punishment, reward, social status. Usual stuff. To be corrected on the same subject repeatedly becomes a weapon, a statement, a code, contempt. 

Clear communication isn't just about rules. It has a significant subjective component. As Clym noted in the previous post, language defines who we are. It's part of the social order. (I'm sure there's room at this juncture for an entire course on the sociology of communication. I'm not going there now.)

It is sticky ground. Smiley


All of that said, and whether you believe it or not, I'm really not unbearably picky about how people post. Everyone mistypes sometimes. Everyone has trouble finding the right word. And I'm all for having fun with a little purple prose or colorful usage. Style and voice are great -- they're a huge and personal part of getting to know each other in situations where written communication is all we have.

But if you consistently misuse the language, then don't be surprised when 1) fewer people read your posts and 2) they don't take what you say in them seriously, no matter your intent. If you can't be bothered to communicate clearly, then the assumption is that your idea is as muddy as your words. "Not fair!" you may cry. That's right. It's not. But then if you won't play by the rules, why should anyone else?

I do find it remarkable and comforting that many of our non-English speaking compatriots write such excellent English. It took a good deal of effort to learn to navigate our complex structure and I appreciate that. But then I have to laugh in disbelief when our native English speakers complain because not everyone understands their indecipherable pidgin.

Yup. Clear speaking. A total buzzkill.

Language. It is a dangerous thing to be misunderstood. In select situations of course.
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Clym Angus
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« Reply #23 on: September 14, 2007, 04:16:17 pm »

I had a seance of self the other day. It was very interesting to speak to my own ghost!  Wink

Why thank you for correction, but to a dyslexic the victory is something of a hollow one. Like saying;

"Your blind, I'm sorry. Oh! Look at that!"

"Oh only got one leg? Fancy an ass kicking contest?"

That said, I would not be the man I am today if I were not able to laugh at my own faults.

My favorite one was done by the Comedian Jasper Carrot:

"I took the piss out of dyslexics the other day, MY GOD the letters I got!

Dir Jusper Purgot,

Leeve us dislexicx alone you winker.

Yours fullyfly" 


Classic.

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Pheobsky
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« Reply #24 on: September 14, 2007, 04:21:59 pm »

I am inclined to agree with the majority of opinions here, none the less I am not free form all the criticism presented here: I am truly abysmal when it comes to spelling, I have a tendency to ramble (and therefore be unclear) Also I have rather anarchic grammar (as opposed to archaic grammar)

On the other hand I think that I sit upon the other end of the  spectrum to «AOLish», in that I rather overuse all punctuation -save full stops.

I feel that it important to bear in mind the purpose to which one is writing for; for example within this forum it is quite acceptable to write such a manor as I do (despite flaws) However, when I write like this in an essay, my teacher may often criticise my indirect style. Another important thing to bear in mind is the context -ie the «text language» used ironically in this thread is quite amusing while if posted into another thread where it was out  of context it should prove to be most irritating!

^^
« Last Edit: September 15, 2007, 12:54:26 pm by Pheobsky » Logged

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