RE: Spelling Police?
> So I imagine those of us who don’t normally use English,
> find this pedantic nitpicking even more offensive.
My apologies to any non English-speaking natives whose spelling or grammar I
have ever corrected. I have not intentionally, and will not complain about
them (unless they are professional lexicographers). My ability to write
understandably in any language other than my native English is basically
My complaints are about native English speakers who should know better, and
should take the opportunity of all this newsgroup or forum writing to become
better writers. Sloppy spelling or grammar to me indicates a lack of
consideration for the reader. Everyone makes mistakes, and I don’t think
that’s the issue here. Some people spell better than others, and I don’t
think that’s the issue either. It’s up to you if you want to improve your
communication skills in the written form of your native tongue.
Some of us have spell-checkers built into our software. I do not recommend
my own Microsoft Outlook (unless you’re into viruses), but all I have to do
is remember to press F7 before I press Send, and many of my mistakes get
corrected. But you don’t need a computer to fix your writing, and I’d
probably consider it a hassle to cut & paste messages before sending them.
What everybody should do, before sending to this public forum, is read
what you wrote first, before hitting Send. It’s a basic rule of all forms
of writing. If you are instant-messaging your friend, or sending any other
form of one-on-one or private communication, this is up to you. But for a
public forum with hundreds(?) of readers, I consider it a common courtesy to
at least glance at your message before sending it.
Some of us do still read this newsgroup in the form of email. That means
every newsgroup and forum message eventually hits their inbox. If you are
not writing to the entire group, or at least to an audience larger than the
author of the original message, you should be sending a private email.
> Language is about sharing ideas, concepts and experiences. If
> you read a post and can get the jist of what is being conveyed,
> then does it really matter if the writer has dropped a letter,
> infringed a grammatical rule or plainly has fat fingers and an
> overenthusiastic way with the keyboard?
No. It matters if they think their own variations on the language we use
here is more convenient for us to read. Take the opportunity to proof your
writing before you send it, and you’ll be a better writer for your trouble.
This will only serve you well in other parts of your life.
I used my involvement in this part of unicycling to improve my written
English. First as editor of On One Wheel in the early 80’s, and later with
the IUF magazine, and as a writer of many articles and letters about
unicycling. The advent of email only increased the amount of writing most of
us do, so it is an even more important part of how we communicate, and how
we are perceived by others.
It is your choice if you want to send a neat and readable message, or if
tossing something off as fast and sloppy as possible is good enough. It’s
like how we treat other parts of our lives. Would you rather go to lunch
with the co-worker with the clean car? Or the one who has to clear off the
seat, has papers, garbage, crumbs, spills, cups, wrappers all over the
floor, dashboard, and seats? And what’s that sticky stuff? To me it’s a
variation of the same thing.
Sorry, I’m long again. But to sum up, please assume people will make typing
mistakes. Please remember some of us did not grow up speaking English. Sure,
Yuichiro Kato’s English raises a smile. But he’s a voice from Japan we never
had before, and most of us don’t know how to talk to him, do we?
But at the same time, show some consideration to the people reading through
tons of posts. If we all use the same language, it’s faster and easier. Save
the slang, and the z’s instead of s’s for people who think it’s cool. And
learn how to spell! When I worked with high school students, I used to tell
them, “Every American should be able to speak, read, and write at least
one language.” This as a joke on our tendency not to be multi-lingual, yet
not even know our own language that well.
Stay on top,
John Foss, the Uni-Cyclone
“I am never riding the wrong way on a busy street again, esp. when on the
phone.” - David Stone, on survival