top posting (off-topic)

Bart Silverstrim bsilver at
Fri Nov 23 13:42:33 PST 2007

David Benfell wrote:
> On Fri, 23 Nov 2007 11:31:51 -0500, Bart Silverstrim wrote:
>> We have adults who can't be bothered to tell the difference 
>> between lose and loose in writing. Wonderful things encouraged by people 
>> justifying their lazy writing styles.
> This might be slightly unfair.
> A large proportion of the population has *never* been able to spell correctly
> or to use proper grammar.  

"has never been able to" is not a valid excuse in my book when it comes 
to writing without a significant number of qualifications.  The vast 
number of people I see misusing common words are fully educated and are 
very able to use most of the other words in the same message just fine, 
yet never stop to fix proper usage of "loose" vs. "lose."

I'm not saying writing must be perfect, and I'm well aware of my own 
grammar shortcomings and I fully understand typos and mistakes.  But 
there are also trends that I run into ALL THE TIME that are simply a 
case of people not taking a bit of care.

>A difference between now, and a few years ago, is
> that we are more often encountering their expressions in a written form, as
> they, too, gain access to the Internet.

AND they don't care enough to take a few moments to edit or put thought 
into their writing.  That was my point.

We have small businesses in the small town I live in.  Many of them have 
typos in their signs.  Constantly.  Now, if I go to a fast food joint in 
my town and they screw up my drink, bleh, it happens.  I can accept that 
mistakes happen.  But when a place screws up my order three or four 
times in a row, as our local Burger King did, I stop going there. 
Period.  When there are businesses with a mistake on their sign, well, 
maybe it's a plain whoops.  When I see mistakes consistently in their 
signs, I wonder if they really care about their business image, and if 
they're lazy or not willing to take care in their image, would I trust 
that they are careful in doing business as well?  I avoid them.

> As a graduate student in communication, I write a lot.  As a teacher of public
> speaking, I see grammatical and spelling errors in the outlines my students
> turn in.  These errors irritate me, but having also worked in the technology
> sector, and having seen memos from my fellow technology workers, prior to
> outsourcing and the importing of people who have an excuse, I know my students
> are not alone.

There is making mistakes and there is plain "I don't care."  The ones 
that make mistakes try not to repeat them.  They care about trying not 
to look like ignoramuses.  If I were to point out that "loose" and 
"lose" mean to entirely different things they would make a note not to 
do that again in the future.

The ones I SPECIFICALLY refer to are the latter.  They DON'T CARE. 
These are the ones that treat email as a substitute for instant 
messenger.  They care nothing for crafting messages to deliver a message 
rather than a mental fart.  They are the ones that think communication 
reached a zenith by reading, word for word, a set of PowerPoint slides 
to the assembled napping crowd.

> Dyslexia and other learning disabilities that impede mastery of spelling and
> grammar may be much more common than is often reported.  Underfunded public
> schools don't help.

Yeah, I work in a US public school.  My wife is an English teacher.  She 
has more students than she cares to have claiming, upon having mistakes 
pointed out, "I'm just not a good speller."  It's an excuse.  She knows 
what these kids are capable of and quite frankly they are simply not 
being careful, and I'm tired of coddling them and enabling their 
laziness further by dismissing their mistakes as being okay when they 
simply don't put effort into fixing the problem.

It's also an insult to those that do work hard to overcome their 
problems.  I know a couple of dyslexics who spell words rather well 
because they worked to overcome the problem.  How is it fair to ignore 
the ones that just don't want to put effort into doing better?  They 
didn't just passively accept a limitation, they worked at making their 
situation better.  Others do them no favors in just nodding a smiling 
and telling them it's okay to just be sub par when they are capable of 
at least trying to do better.

> And an insistence on grammatical and spelling correctness is its own form of
> elitism.

No, I'm insisting on not being lazy and passing it off as just the norm. 
  I've clearly acknowledged that I don't expect perfection, and mistakes 
are more than acceptable.  What I DON'T accept is when they are no 
longer mistakes, just a simple I-don't-give-a-damn attitude.  The 
writing is untrimmed, the grammar is sloppy, and the excuse is that it 
saves THEM time and effort.  Quoting isn't trimmed.  No effort is put 
into crafting a message.  Email is turned less into a communication 
medium and more into a very very poor form of instant messaging. 
Messages in the archive consist of non-linear messages piled on top of 
each other with redundant headers re-quoted just so someone could burp 
out a short "me too" or other one-liner mental pop.  It's a waste of 
space and time, and it reflects on the author and their lack of care in 
how their communication reflects back on themselves.

What you point out is that there are cases where it is legitimate to 
accept communication problems.  True!  Never said there weren't 
exceptions.  However, this is NOT the majority of the cases, and the 
reasons you're citing are more used as excuses rather than explanations 
in the vast majority of cases.

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