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Author Topic: A Rant, in which I express displeasure at the lack of proper English usage.  (Read 15839 times)
Drake White
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Airship privateer & clockwork technologist.


« Reply #25 on: September 14, 2007, 05:10:53 pm »

I'm with most people here, extremely bad spelling/grammar is just painful to read and quite often I just don't bother, If someone can't be bothered to take a few seconds to check over what they've written or check it with a spell checker, why should I bother? Its not like spell checking is hard, Firefox has a spell check built-in and I'm fairly sure there's IE spell checker plug ins, and if all else fails copy-paste into Word or an online spell checker.

I know not all people speak perfect English, heck I am English and I'm miles from being perfect but atleast give it a try for crying out loud. I know my grammar isn't top-notch, I know I abuse commas to a sometimes ridiculous level, I know my spelling is far from being excellent, buts that I ALWAYS spell check, being so easy and all (see too many commas).
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Ettie
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« Reply #26 on: September 14, 2007, 05:17:14 pm »

I know i make a few error here and there!
But there really shouldn't be any excuse because we have spell check and that is something we should put in practice because most message boards don't have any spell check to use and this one does!
I can only think of one reason why people don't use spell check and that is because they are just lazy!
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Sir Ratchetspanner
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« Reply #27 on: September 14, 2007, 05:37:53 pm »

I think it is important to make a distinction between permanant words, and more disposable words.

A text message is read once, by one person, then never referred to again. "C U in 10min" is good enough for the situation.

If you write a book, your words will be read for years. Possibly centuries. The standard of prose would hopefully reflect that.

A forum is something of a middle ground. Many threads dissapear in a few days. The audience number in the dozens, not millions.

I think the effort put into writing should reflect that. I fuss more over composition and spelling when i start a thread, because more people will read it, and the first post is essential to establishing the rest of the conversation. I would not put so much effort into a throwaway comment.

Not everyone can write to a high standard completely effortlessly. My own posts are never spellchecked, and rarely edited, before or after i click "post". But i realise that reaching an apropriate standard sometimes takes more time for others. I think everyone who lays claim to basic literacy can communicate almost perfectly if they put the effort in.

In my opinion, the more you use a higher standard of english than you normally would, the easier it becomes to maintain that standard. If most of your english use is text messaging, you will struggle on the rare occasions you want to use complete sentences. I found that using IM has wrecked my standard of english, by encouraging me to type in sentence fragments too often, and to neglect to correct any errors.

I don't think everyone is always aware of the standard of english they use. If you dont know what you have done wrong, and why, then how can you improve? I consider my english education to be an ongoing process. I have about a foot of bookshelf space devoted to dictionaries and books on the punctuation, grammar, and usage. I do read them occasionally too.

You dont neccesarily need formal education to see where you have gone wrong though. If you read at lot, you will be able to spot errors, just because "it looks wrong". Of course, the standard of english you habitually read is important too. If you stick to published books, they will set a fairly good example for you.

my keyboard batteries have just died, so i shall have to stop here.
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Anaesthesius
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« Reply #28 on: September 14, 2007, 06:46:54 pm »




I just realized what my mental reading voice sounds like when I encounter txtspk (for the brief moment before I stop reading): a Jagermonster with a bad cold, relayed over a crackling wireless.  Hyu sounds shtupid ven hyu talk like dot!  Hyu copy?
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« Reply #29 on: September 14, 2007, 09:17:03 pm »

It seems that there are a few different issues here:
(1) Proper use of words
(2) Proper sentence structure useage
(3) Useage of "Aolish"

In my last post here I already stated my issue with issues (1) and (2). So I guess I should weigh in on issue (3).

The Language of code, and it's use.

Codes can be a valuable tool when working on special projects, when communicating in short message signals (Text-messaging, Telegrams, or even when using the Morse Code system). These codes should not be used when communication is to be read freely by the masses, nor should a code be used when time is allowed for reading of such messages.

Which brings me to this


As funny as this image is. It reminds me of the time I was researching some Alchemic Tables (not for my use, but thats another story). While common English was used to write out the words, none of the words made any sense to people who tried to read it, but if you either knew the code or had the code's key you could figure out exactly what was being said. I had to figure the code out which wasn't that fun, Exciting yes, but not fun.

I wouldn't expect anyone who comes to this forum to spend weeks trying to decode what is written by the posters (unless that was the intention of the Original Poster). So when I wright, I wright in a simple to read style so that anyone coming here can read it. I kind of expect other people who post to wright the same way (I say expect mainly because sometime we wright something that makes sense to the writer, but not so much to the reader).

So be kind and type your thoughts, without resorting to "Aolish". If we are unable to quickly understand each other, then how are we going to continue to communicate in a timely manner?
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Flynn MacCallister
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« Reply #30 on: September 15, 2007, 02:07:38 am »

In the context of mere day-to-day communication, all that is really necessary is that the parties involved can understand each other. If you are able to pick over someone's spelling and grammar, and point out specific errors, chances are that you have indeed understood them and have simply chosen to criticise their imperfections in their use of language. Maybe that's fair enough, maybe it isn't. I don't want to get into that.

When, however, one is presented with something that really is nothing more than a wall of letters and spaces, one has cause to complain and to be irritated. I am not talking about the case of an individual whose English is rather garbled -- perhaps even to the point of being completely unintelligible -- due to it not being their first, or even second language. The type of post in which the writer ignores any and all grammatical structure entirely and looks upon punctuation (I will add "and capitalisation", as I do believe it to be necessary to the sense of a piece of text, though I have no wish to debate that here) with haughty disdain does vex me considerably when the piece of text in question is longer than something like a one hundred and sixty word text message -- as forum posts tend to be.

There is plenty of talk here about "language as a code". Well, yes. Fair enough. In the context of a text message, "cya a cwd stn 5 2 c brne ult" is fine. It transmits information effectively. However, extend that message further, perhaps into something like:

Quote
d brne ult isa 2k7 flm lsly bsd on d robert ludlum novl of d sme nme a sql 2 d brne sup n d 3rd flm of d Brne tri it stars mat damon rprzng hs r0l as ludlums sig char amnsc cia assn jason brne julia stiles david strathn scot glen pady considn edgar ramrz abrt finy n joan alen costar d key cast membrs rprze ther rols frm d 2 prev brne mvies w ads such as strathrn playn a cia dept hed pady considn as a pomy journo n edgar ramrz as a nu assassin sent 2 kil brne

(a mere 103 words of text lifted from Wikipedia), which really is quite nonsensical. Not much better is:

Quote
the bourne ultimatum isa 2007 film losely based on the robert ludlum novel a sequel to th bourne supremecy and the third film of the bourne trilogy mat damon stars riprising his role as ludlums signichur amnesic cia asasin charecter jason bourne. julia stiles david strathen scot glenn paddy considin edgar ramirez albert finney and joan allen costar and the key actors reprise there previos bourne movie roles from the two with aditons like strathen playing a cia department head paddy considine as a british jornalist and a new asasin edgar ramirez sent to kill bourne.

The style of the former of these two examples I have not seen on this forum. The style of the latter, I unfortunately have. My only reason for complaining is that I simply cannot understand the content of a post written in this style. Language may well be nothing more than a code, unfixed and ever-changing, but it does not change the fact that this code must be able to carry a message which the recipient can decipher. I cannot decipher that, thus it is not language to me. It is meaningless noise, and the poster is wasting their time.

Poor spelling and imperfect grammar I can live with, provided a post makes some sort of sense. I therefore throw my plea out into this developing maelstrom: please, make an effort. Even if you don't understand the difference between a passive and and active verb, and you have no idea what to do with a semicolon, punctuation and grammar are as important as the words themselves in making a forum post make sense.
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Dax
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« Reply #31 on: September 15, 2007, 02:48:02 am »

I'm a little unclear on the whole complaint here.  Is the main issue one of compliance with common English spelling and grammar, the seeming inability of some posters to clearly communicate their message, or an apparent inability of some posters to compose a coherent thought?

The first issue bothers me considerably less than the other two.  Like all languages, English evolves and its usage and rules should change.  Also, I'm not convinced that many rules of grammar have an actual purpose - except to comply with supposed rules of dead languages that contributed to the development of modern English.  And many of these rules are relatively new - as recently as the 18th century, we still have the double lowercase form of S, and the letters U and V were indistinguishable.  If past changes to the language are considered improvements, I fail to see why further changes would be detrimental to the language.

If a grammatical rule results in a clearer expression of a thought, I'm all in favor of it.  However, if a rule has no added value to a thought, then it should be disregarded.  I'm of the opinion that, if a rule has no apparent benefit, then it should be considered arbitrary and discarded - along with the person who first thought of it.  Frankly, I'm not sure that Dr. Samuel Johnson did us any favors.

On the other hand, I am deeply bothered when I see correspondence written by people who either can't effectively communicate their intended meaning, or seem to be incapable of organizing their thoughts well enough to present them in written form.  It seems that I am encountering more and more children left behind.

But, that's just me...
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HAC
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« Reply #32 on: September 15, 2007, 03:55:05 am »

I'm a little unclear on the whole complaint here.  Is the main issue one of compliance with common English spelling and grammar, the seeming inability of some posters to clearly communicate their message, or an apparent inability of some posters to compose a coherent thought?
...........
On the other hand, I am deeply bothered when I see correspondence written by people who either can't effectively communicate their intended meaning, or seem to be incapable of organizing their thoughts well enough to present them in written form.  It seems that I am encountering more and more children left behind.

But, that's just me...
My whole issue is more with your second and third points. I can accept poor grammar, (english may not be the native tongue of all our members), but when it's compounded by the inability of some posters to clearly communicate their message, or  even post in a reasonably coherent train of thought, well to quote Terry Pratchett, that's when I "'go spare".  I was not as clear as I could have been originally, I suppose, posting in the heat of the moment after having to wade through blather whilst catching up on threads.
  To make it worse, there is the incoherent posting  that only serves to increase post count, and adds nothing of any value to a thread. Those are trly annoying ...
   I think you've summed it up nicely..
Cheers
Harold
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« Reply #33 on: September 15, 2007, 05:49:16 am »

So HAC, was it the guy in Tactile that posted about painting pvc that got under your skin?  That thread devolved into this kind of discussion right at the beginning.
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HAC
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« Reply #34 on: September 15, 2007, 05:53:10 am »

That may have been the one that tipped me over the edge, but there were many more before that, in most of the sub-fora I follow here...

Cheers
Harold
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Don Ramo
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« Reply #35 on: September 15, 2007, 10:49:33 am »

I'll admit that seeing the length of the posts on this heady topic is a little daunting but I'd like to throw in my two cents because the thread is relevant to my interests.

The stratification of language used and the manner with which it is used seems to be connected with society in as far as the concrete printed word. I don't have a formal training on linguistics but I have studied a few languages with varying levels of success in communicating in them. To me it seems that formal language takes on a solid structure when it gets printed. If language doesn't get written down and then codified it will continue to change and shift as individuals impose their own style upon the noises we humans make.

In just reading posts at random I can only make the assumption that many of the members posting here come from diverse backgrounds that demand great amounts of knowledge from reading. Books are not read so much for pleasure as they are just tasks that "take up time" for the average person. Not having regular access to printed work puts people into a reliance upon the spoken word. Given the lack of actual verbal/aural components to online communications it seems to me that the compromise in language shift is made in writing. With technological societies pushing for greater communications the opportunity for breakdown of "proper language" in print comes into play as more and more is written with the developing online "language".
 
 The 1337 5p33K that drives me up the wall is someone else's move to make a new written language. I do not like it personally, in being face to face with it, but as a concept I'll stand to say that the online muck that passes of communication elsewhere might just be the nascent written for of language tomorrow. Unfortunately I think Vuk Stefanovic Karadzic is the bearer of that bad news for the future as he is quoted  as having said (translated) "Speak as you write and read as it is written". Can very many of us, the posters on this thread, be fully understood in regular conversation with those we find so much issue with if our written languages differ so notably?
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Dr von Zarkov
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« Reply #36 on: September 15, 2007, 08:50:25 pm »

Dax wrote
Quote
Is the main issue … the seeming inability of some posters to clearly communicate their message, or an apparent inability of some posters to compose a coherent thought?

These two issues trouble me. For example, it is disconcerting to attempt to follow DIY instructions which, while prettily illustrated, confuse the reader. There reasons for rules of grammar: clear and unequivocal communication is one.

I am particularly put off by prepositional abuse - double prepositions and needless prepositions. "off of" and "out of" are examples of the former; "print off", "read in", and "print out" belonging to the latter category.

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« Reply #37 on: September 16, 2007, 12:02:30 am »

That may have been the one that tipped me over the edge, but there were many more before that, in most of the sub-fora I follow here...

Cheers
Harold

Mr. Brazil's post was the only one I had seen.  Mr. Catchpole's posts, mostly the non-english ones, confuse me the most.
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Datamancer
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« Reply #38 on: September 16, 2007, 04:05:51 pm »

I used to be nearly autistic in my adherence to the rule of English grammar and spelling. I was in Honors English and a big Literature snob all throughout high school. As I get older I find myself growing much more accepting of spelling errors, but grammatical errors still irk me a bit. I think my acceptance of spelling errors stems from studying other languages and realizing how absurd the spelling conventions in this Anglo-Franco-Latinate clusterfumble we call English really are. What difference does it make if you write "flourescant" or flourescent", "acceptance" or "acceptence"? People still know what you mean. The only spelling errors that bother me are ones that effect the meaning of a word like saying "effective communication" instead of "affective communication" (considering both have been addressed thus far in the thread you can see how this would lead to confusion).

My biggest complaint with the current state of the English languange lies more in the "dumbing down" of it and the fact that most people have no grasp of the origin or true meanings of the words they use. They will use "spectacular", "fantastic", "outrageous", "awesome", and "wonderful" completely interchangably without realizing that each word has it's own subtle shade of meaning. Another big gripe of mine is that most people seem to be unable to separate the meaning of a word from its most common stigma. If I said "this whole 9/11 thing is all quite spectacular", I would mean "it's an absurd spectacle", but most people would read it as "9/11 is great!" Another example...have you ever tried to use the word "ignorant" to simply mean "to not have knowledge of". If you tell someone that they are ignorant of something, they will immediately react with anger and defensiveness because they've only heard the word used as an insult. "You're ignorant!" (which is an incomplete statement.....ignorant of what?)

-~D~-
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Bobby_Brazil
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« Reply #39 on: September 16, 2007, 04:33:15 pm »

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.

too true, money is just the same as you'll find the difference between the really rich and  not so rich, the not so rich will act rich when they should just be well off. i have several friends who are really rich and if you met them you'd probably either turn your noses up at them or pay them no mind at all, the actors if you will, will go out of their way to affect the "style" that they seem to find would fit. as for me i'll stick to jeans and t-shirts, as they are more comfortable, i am well off, rich in friends and family.
i have once allready appoligized for an earlier post, so i'll not do that again, however i will point out that when i did it, i really watered it down,( i was just trying to have a little fun ) i have several much younger female freinds who talk thus, it is not an act but rather a way to rebel against what they see as an oppressive society, is it right? for them yes, for most no but that is ok. also instead of looking at them being un-educated several of them are colledge educated with master degrees and own thier own businesses, i doubt that many here can say that. so in closing if any of you would like not to be judged please do not judge because appearances are never what they seem. sometimes i don't like to use spell check
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« Reply #40 on: September 16, 2007, 05:14:53 pm »

I'm not talking about money, that is irrelevant. The blue blooded are not neccesarily rich at all, they vary from the heavily in debt, to the moderately stinking.

My point is, its no good trying to copy these mannerisms and ways of speaking unless you are actualy familiar with what you are copying. Reading old books helps, but you have to read a wide range of material, not just popular fiction.

I think many steampunks with their top hats, flowery language, and affected mannerisms, are perhaps following a romantizised ideal of victorian england without really understanding the things they emulate.

It comes quite naturally to those brought up in an old fashioned manner, surrounded by the echos of that era. But that isnt very many of us.

Personally, I think it unwise to go too far in emulating an unfamiliar fashion, in writing, speech, or anything else for that matter. Regardless of wether you imitate a victorian gentleman or a 'po boy from the ghetto, it is just too fake. I use this forum as an excuse to exercise my most formal writing tone, but it is not any real attempt to copy an archaic form, it is simply a fairly timeless form which seems to suit the situation nicely, and which I am quite comfortable using.

It grates a little when people attempt to spice up their vocabulary, and don't quite get it right. It is certainly commendable to copy the carefully paced victorian style, and the courtesy too of course, but this can be done without adding half understood "victorianisms", which I feel detract somewhat from the sincerity of communication.

Affected manners of any kind seem insincere if there is the slightest crack in the facade. Sincerity is just as important on the internet as it is in face to face communication. Perhaps more so, since it can be harder to express properly.
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Bobby_Brazil
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« Reply #41 on: September 16, 2007, 05:34:00 pm »

please do not take this as a barb or an attack because it is not meant to be either, but do you yourself not do this?. we all do it to some form or another, and generally it is for fun. and you do know about fun, i've seen your motorcycles.
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Sir Ratchetspanner
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« Reply #42 on: September 16, 2007, 05:53:49 pm »

I dont do it to any great extent.. If I use an archaic turn of phrase or exotic vocabulary, I use it because I know exactly what it means (I am in complete agreement with Datamancer on that issue) and I feel it fits the need perfectly.

I am a bit of a word geek. I do not use fancy words for their own sake, or for their image.. but simply for the satisfaction of finding exactly the right word, which slots into my sentance and into my meaning perfectly. Yes, I do it because I enjoy it, but the joy comes from getting it right.

I think it depends on the motivation. If the motive is to communicate better, either to carry across bald facts, or to evoke a particular feeling, then I feel positively about contortions of language. After all, poetry is an entire artform based on the careful use and misuse of language.

I consider myself a bit of a poet, but you shall not find me wittering on about daffodils. I enjoy the beauty of poetry in more utilitarian uses of language, much like I apreciate the beautiful ironwork that supports a victorian sewage pumping engine.

I think my views on this mesh somewhat with my views on the relationship between form and function. The function of the words must always come first, and their form enhance the function, and the function contributing to the form. I feel this kind of balance and harmony is where writing becomes true art.
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Bobby_Brazil
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« Reply #43 on: September 16, 2007, 05:58:33 pm »

I dont do it to any great extent.. If I use an archaic turn of phrase or exotic vocabulary, I use it because I know exactly what it means (I am in complete agreement with Datamancer on that issue) and I feel it fits the need perfectly.

I am a bit of a word geek. I do not use fancy words for their own sake, or for their image.. but simply for the satisfaction of finding exactly the right word, which slots into my sentance and into my meaning perfectly. Yes, I do it because I enjoy it, but the joy comes from getting it right.

I think it depends on the motivation. If the motive is to communicate better, either to carry across bald facts, or to evoke a particular feeling, then I feel positively about contortions of language. After all, poetry is an entire artform based on the careful use and misuse of language.

I consider myself a bit of a poet, but you shall not find me wittering on about daffodils. I enjoy the beauty of poetry in more utilitarian uses of language, much like I apreciate the beautiful ironwork that supports a victorian sewage pumping engine.

I think my views on this mesh somewhat with my views on the relationship between form and function. The function of the words must always come first, and their form enhance the function, and the function contributing to the form. I feel this kind of balance and harmony is where writing becomes true art.
i think that one of my early posts was for me late night attempt at having fun, and as i've noted else where have not used it since, sir not that it has been anything else but in renewal i extend my hand in friendship.
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Sir Ratchetspanner
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« Reply #44 on: September 16, 2007, 06:17:26 pm »

Not a problem at all Sir. The strange style you used initially brought more confusion than anything else, since I know nothing about the dialect you were trying to convey.

Perhaps I should make myself clear. Despite the generally high standards I set for myself, I do not like to criticise anyone elses english skills directly. I have kept all of my comments as impersonal as possible, because I feel it is downright rude to nitpick at other peoples linguistic mistakes.

As long as a person is making an attempt to be understood, I shall not criticise. In the case of people from non english speaking countries, I will not criticise even the worst english. It would be the height of hypocracy for me to do so, since most of my countrymen (myself included, shamefully) can just about manage "parley voo onglay?" and no more.

Since we have managed to understand each other, I think language has served its purpose.
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Bobby_Brazil
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« Reply #45 on: September 16, 2007, 07:35:12 pm »

initially it was not you who caused offence, yes the style is really strange, and in reality it gets much worse and there are times in which i understand it but little. but 'nuff said on that. love the bikes though.
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Interstellar Machine
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« Reply #46 on: September 16, 2007, 07:59:15 pm »

Standardized spelling comes from a socialist mentality attempting to force everyone to operate on the same plane and limit creativity; it is legalistic at best. The point of writing is not to spell but to communicate. If the audience understands your thoughts, then you have achieved the intended outcome. More people should view styles of spelling as an individual's trademark, more like a preferred style of clothing rather then a standard of hygiene.

That said, a person willfully bucking the arbitrary academic standard should realize that less-practical, close-minded people may tend to judge his/her level of intelligence based on his/her preferred writing styles. Much more meaning and varied nuances could be derived from our limited English vocabulary if spelling standards were liberated.

If you want to stand out, like many at this forum want, spell how you like, no one is ever noticed for their good spelling.
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Sir Ratchetspanner
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« Reply #47 on: September 16, 2007, 08:18:03 pm »

Speak for yourself. I certainly notice good spelling, and adherance to the rules of grammar.

I say feel free to break the rules of language as often as you like, provided you understand them in the first place, and know what you are breaking, and why.

Declaring all standardisation as obsolete, and then refusing to even learn the standard, limits your creativity terribly. If you do not know your own language, how can you use it? You cannot add naunce to your communication by misspelling, unless you know how and why it is misspelled, and why that particular misspelling is so effective. Even then, the english language allows for this sort of thing. Simply apply a pair of inverted commas around the offending word, so it is clear that the misspelling is deliberate.

We need a totaly standardised reference, for when colloquial communication fails, as it frequently does. Should we be obliged to learn the dialects and ad hoc writing styles of every semi-literate in the world? Never. It is only polite for the writer to use as much standardisation as neccesary to be sure that their entire audience can understand them fully.

Spelling does not limit creativity in the least. It enables better communication, which fans the flames of individual, and collective creativity.

Language is not something that usualy exists for ones own self. If you write notes for your own use.. feel free to write them in any code you please. When you write for an audience of more than just yourself, the needs of the audience must be the first consideration. Would you attempt to speak to a german in french? Not if you had any better option. Thus, it is no use attempting to defend ad hoc spelling from the point of view of the value of communication. As noted, there is precedent and procedure for the use of careful misspellings, so that argument is totaly invalid I am afraid.
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Outa_Spaceman
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« Reply #48 on: September 16, 2007, 09:31:28 pm »

I once had  a teacher that I respected....
His name was Mr Grundy...
He once said to me...
"Mr OSM.... You have a fantastic vocabulary... sadly, you can spell non of it"
I am not proud of this..
I wish I had paid more attention....
All of this is "lost.... like tears in rain" Sad Sad
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JingleJoe
Zeppelin Overlord
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United Kingdom United Kingdom


The Green Dungeon Alchemist


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« Reply #49 on: September 16, 2007, 09:50:39 pm »

If I'm in the minority, then juts tell me, and I'll go take my medications..

Did anyone else notice this? HAC, You typed juts instead of just in a post about bad grammar and spelling... Sorry, but I'm loling Cheesy
I do agree that it is annoying when a message is intelligable because of over use of short-hand abbreviations, I admit to using a few (like lol or wtf or brb) but not in such excess as to make my messages incoherant Smiley
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Green Dungeon Alchemist Laboratories
Providing weird sound contraptions and time machines since 2064.
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