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The demise of good english and spelling things correctly

Posted by esh_ga z7 GA (My Page) on
Mon, Sep 27, 04 at 21:54

I am looking for kindred souls, people who are as alarmed as I am at what passes for the written word. Bad enough are the deliberate short cuts that people take (How R U today?), but must we write with such lack of regard that people must read it twice to get the meaning? Don't people proofread what they write to make sure they didn't leave out important words like "is", "the", and such?

And spelling! How can you post a message on the Azalea forum and spell it as "azalia" in the message title? How long does it take to look up how to spell something properly? Internet dictionaries abound! Is it a lack of pride or pure ignorance? It wasn't Hurricane Francis, it was "Frances". On the Name that Plant forum, someone posted that they wanted something from "Cali" identified. Once you read the post, you realized that they meant "California". When did Cali become the abbreviation for such a beautiful word?

Thanks for letting me rant. My family is not sympathetic.

P.S. I hope I didn't make any typos ....


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: The demise of good english and spelling things correctly

I am definitely sympathetic, but shouldn't "english" be capitalized in your thread title?

Sorry, but it's almost a given that a critique of others' grammar will contain one or more grammatical errors. :)


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RE: The demise of good english and spelling things correctly

You're right, Eric! "English" should have been capitalized.


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RE: The demise of good english and spelling things correctly

esh, I'm in agreement with you. I have read posts that are so riddled with horrid spellings and grammatical errors that it's hard to get a sense of what the poster is saying. I won't name names or be too specific, but there is a prolific poster on another forum whose posts I just avoid because they are so hard to read.

An occassional typo or mistake is not an issue, and I'll even take some of those short cuts, LOL!

V.

PS - Eric, so what was my mistake?


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RE: The demise of good english and spelling things correctly

I am in agreement but you will find many on this forum who do not feel that spelling and proper grammar are important in today's world. As a former teacher I am appalled at the lack of knowledge and usage of proper English forms.


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RE: The demise of good english and spelling things correctly

I am in complete agreement esh. We all make typos and mistakes but there are those who can't spell and don't care and it is a shame as a literate population seems to be dwindling. I remember once proofing a specific newsletter where an author was chastising everyone for spelling it crape myrtle when it should be crepe myrtle. I did not point out his error as I thought it might be a good learning experience for him but someone else corrected his copy. Had it been a book and not a newsletter I would have corrected it.


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RE: The Demise of Good English and Spelling Things Correctly

Oh... that's a topic after my heart!
First, I ask for extenuating circumstances (or is it leniency?) because I'm an ignorant foreigner.
Second, as such I feel helpless when people write carelessly because it makes me misunderstand their message and it teaches me wrong.
I was so happy when finding the internet a great instrument to improve my knowledge of foreign languages and cultures. At the same time it makes me so sad when people don't see the necessity to show their best - though they could.
It might make a difference when people can not write better due to for example dyslexia, but there's a spelling help in almost every computer and even in forums.

Perhaps you're interested to learn that Germany has introduced a reform of spelling ("Rechtschreibreform") some years ago. The new german spelling is a hot topic since and has divided people in "old spellers" and "new spellers". Most teachers complied as the situation flattered them with attention and new powers. But some newspapers simply rejected to participate in the change, others proposed their own reform. Writers and editors cringed under the problem whether and when to change the spelling in books.

Just a few details from the "new spelling rules".
Composite nouns can now be written with 3 consonants of the same kind. Like bed + sheet = Bett + Tuch = Betttuch. Looks silly, huh? Old rules were "no more than two of the same kind, unless followed by a different consonant".
Our beloved '' which is actually a combination of 's' and 'z' has been deprived of its position. Instead the sassy 'ss' has achieved powers. While it was easy in former times to read the difference in between "Mae" (measures) and "Masse" (mass) people now are puzzled whether they are to appreciate a woman's measures or her masses.

After ten years of experimenting at the expense of millions of people, the two largest publishing houses have announced to return to the old spelling rules.
The chaos is now complete.

.

By the way - I remember learning in school that in headlines all nouns, verbs, adjectives, names and pronouns are written with capital letters. Wrong or right, my question.


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RE: The demise of good english and spelling things correctly

I don't know if it's really a demise of anything...maybe the folks who write sloppy were the folks who just didn't write before the internet brought the keyboard to the unschooled masses? I think some of it's just slang anyway, or maybe an anti-elitist mood, or even a predominance of a conversational style.

There's a book out now (I forget the name and author) about how our president mispronounces a lot of words in a "country/Texan" way, even though he was raised in a family that didn't speak that way.

Susanne: interesting stuff about the new German rules. I learned German before this happened, so I had been a bit worried about my now-archaic spelling. Was the es-zett removed to make keyboard use easier?


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RE: The demise of good english and spelling things correctly

Evolution is inevitable, whether in nature or language.
At what point do you select the grammatical rules as THE reference point? Five years ago, or four hundred?

Wel bi pam eorle e him on innan hafa,
reehygdig wer, rume heortan;
t him bi for worulde weormynda mst,
ond for ussum Dryhtne doma selast.
Efne swa he mid wtre one weallendan
leg adwsce, pt he leng ne mg
blac byrnende burgum scean,
swa he mid lmessan ealle toscufe
synna wunde, sawla lacna.

Old english. Ain't cha glad the rules changed?

For the translation: click here

Poppa


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RE: The demise of good english and spelling things correctly

Susanne, your discussion of the changes in German spelling was quite interesting.

I always have been lenient with those for whom English is a second language, because I know your English is infintely better than my German! It's sad to see that many who should have learned how to write well in English just can't be bothered to make the effort. At a former workplace I once very politely told a coworker that he had a typo in a fax he was sending to The Netherlands. His response was, "Oh, their English isn't that good anyway, so they'll never know!" He could not be bothered to change it.

Now in my mind, if someone's English is not that good, that's all the more reason to be careful of your spelling. Had I spelled "lenient" incorrectly as lienent, would you recognize the word, or would you wonder if it was another word that you didn't know?

OJ, I think you've hit the point with your mention of conversational style. When you are conversing face to face, you have the opportunity to add expression to your words, as well as the chance to keep explaining your position if you see that the other person has missed your point. Once I hit the submit button on this forum, my message is gone, and if Poppa doesn't understand my point, I may never know! Once again, in my mind that means I'd better think twice about what I'm saying and how I'm saying it so that my point is clear to the reader. Unfortunately, and this is not directed at anyone in this current discussion, this seems to be the minority opinion in the on-line world.

V.


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RE: The demise of good english and spelling things correctly

Johnny,
the '' wasn't removed, but the tendencies are to use it less often. Our keyboards are different from those in other languages anyway, so that shouldn't make a difference.
However, the '' is a strong point of cultural identification, therefore abolition of the letter would equal a cultural loss. I hope we'll never go there.

---

Poppa,
yes, "Evolution is inevitable", and I want to add that for this reason evolution should not be disturbed by forceful acts like "language reforms". I understand that in times when Old English was used, old rules applied, if any, but not the ones of today.


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Should I Be Resigned?

Susanne, I think you are right about capitalizing words in a headline (and I noted that you corrected yours as such). It is a shame that I, even as aware as I am of this topic, did not take the time to do format mine properly. Have I fallen victim to my own complaint?

I agree that we have probably moved into a rather conversational style of communicating. However, when we are verbally conversing, you (as a listener) do not know whether I said "Your looking well today" or "You're looking well today". But when I write it, then you know. And in this ever shrinking world, there may be people reading my post for whom English is not their primary language (as Veronica mentioned), and they may misunderstand me.

I think it is wrong to create text (whether in email or a forum, or anywhere) that you know to be grammatically incorrect. As my young children grow up with the internet and email, I don't want these examples for them, and I will hold them (my children) to my standards.

Yes, I suppose languages change (and you're right, Poppa, I can't read old English - or is that "olde English"?). To me, at least, this topic speaks of carelessness and ignorance, not of progressiveness.


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RE: The demise of good english and spelling things correctly

My local postal substation used to have a very good employee managing it. The mail was always sorted by 11 AM and the lines moved pleasantly and briskly. Unfortunately, she retired. The two women who have replaced her are a disaster. The mail isn't sorted and into the postal boxes until 4PM and sometimes not at all in a full day. Every day, in the middle of the day, the women lock the door for an hour and a half and stick a note on it reading, "We 2 lunch."
Sometimes I think that what's wrong with today's writing is not just a lack of pride or education but, more generally, a reflection of a lack of consideration for one's fellow man. "Tough nuggies" the attitude is.


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RE: The demise of good english and spelling things correctly

mysteryrose: A perfect example!

"tough nuggies" or "tough noogies"? Does it matter? Should you have looked that phrase up before you used it?
While i believe the original was the latter (it's the way I always said it!), the first seems to be more popular nowadays.

Now this stupid thing is driving me nuts. Anyone know the origin of that phrase? No, it is not Bill Murray on SNL. I remember using it as a kid, a bit before those days...

I also remember the days when using "ain't" would draw a look of ire. Now, I can't remember the last time I was chastised with, "Ain't isn't a word!". "Ain't" is now in the dictionary. I win.

The language changes. It grows and evolves. The world changes. Used to be you couldn't wear anything but white on the tennis court. Gas used to be $.19 a gallon. I lament those prices, but it ain't comin' back.

As far as the postal workers go, fire dey ass.

Poppa
(and if the tone sounds angry to you, please read it again with some classical music playing in the background and while sipping a glass of wine)


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RE: The demise of good english and spelling things correctly

Poppa, I have "Fountains of Wayne" playing in my head and strong coffee to sip, but you don't sound angry to me.

As for "tough nuggies", the original phrase was "tough nougies" and arose among a group of workers at a candy factory. They were have quality problems with their corn syrup supplier and the level of sugar in the corn syrup was fluctuating wildly. As a result, they would end with batches of nougat that were too chewy or tough to be sold. And so the complaint would be heard from time to time, "Oh no! More tough nougies!" The workers began using the phrase outside of work to mean tough luck and usage spread. Folks unfamiliar with the phrase's origin corrupted the spelling to the now-dominant nuggies.

Well, at least it makes a good story. Garden writers can try their hands at fiction, too!

V.


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RE: The demise of good english and spelling things correctly

In fact "tough, new guy" came from the assembly line of the model T Ford and was what was shouted at a new worker who couldn't keep up with the pace. In a true sense of growing and evolving as the assembly line grew the phrase evolved so that by the time SUV's were being churned out "tuf noogy" became a catch all for anything bad that was 'going down'. There was an example of the original phrase as scribbled on a Detroit motor plant wall, the plant long since demolished, a piece of the wall fetched several thousands of dollars at a recent auction at Sotheby's. When a reporter asked the buyer why he had paid so much for such trivia, adding "I could never afford to do that," the buyer replied "tuf noogy."


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RE: The demise of good english and spelling things correctly

Hey, I love Fountains of Wayne! What a coincidence.

Now, Poppa, I would've said "fire DER a**", not "dey". That's going too far .... And think how you've confused the people that don't speak English as their first language.

I hear what you're saying Poppa, but I can't let myself give in. I guess I'll just be "old school" until I'm gone.

But to talk about how phrases change over time: it often comes up at work whether the correct phrase is "flesh out the details" or "flush out the details". I happen to think the first one is the original. Unlike, "tough nougies", I am not sure there is a story behind that one.


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RE: The demise of good english and spelling things correctly

Yes, esh... I debated myself on that one and i lost. I mostly post without thinking, so the mere fact that i gave pause was sign enough to me that i knew right from wrong.

V: you were very close... I found this reference...

The origin of "tough noogies" is a bastardization of the french phase "touche nougat" and was documented in the description of the duel between one Monsieur LePrend and a Monsieur Pelland in 1512. In this instance, the duel lasted several hours and a frustrated Mr. Pelland (who was defending his wife's honor and considered Mr. LePrend unworthy of common coutesty) resorted to repeatedly whapping his opponant with his epee in a particulaly sensitive area. Each time he made contact he would proclaim "touche nougat!", claiming the right to a point (duels were won on a point system). According to the rules of dueling at that time, it was highly improper to stike on below the belt and the English referee, refused to record the points. In an after-duel interview to the English press, the referee explained the bad points as, "all tough nouggies for mr. Pelland" and the rest is history.


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RE: The demise of good english and spelling things correctly

I stand corrected, the phrase "t'aoof naoogies" dates back to the Viking invasions of the British Isles back in the days of yore. The Vikings, as is well known engaged in rape, sack and pillage of the poor Brits and their villages. What is not know is that there were three seperate long boats that were designated their duties before leaving the homeland. One expressly for raping another for pillaging and the third for sacking. On the occasion in question the duties were duly given out to much groaning and complaining from the crew who had drawn the rape boat. "Oah nufew nary agint da frendic assi chsiu." which roughly translated means "Oh no not again that's the third time this week, we are tired." To which the other crews responded with a rousing "t'aoof naoogies."
Apparantly it was not until Eric the Red discovered America that the phrase reached these shores, it is said that Bill Murray is indeed a direct descendant of Eric.


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RE: The demise of good english and spelling things correctly

The phrase, in all seriousness comes from the 22n'd century. Time travelers from that era are used to all sorts of technology we aren't currently accoustomed to, but are only starting to acquire. One of the more popular pastimes to come is playing with gentetic splicing kits commonly found at Wal*Mall. An error in a shipment of new "Pegasus" kits resulted in an abberration of nature. Instead of the expected horse/trumpeter swan cross, many people ended up with either a cross between the Black Angus and carolina parakeet or a cross between the African grey goose and the African Antelope. If you attempted to return the product for a refund, the Wal*mall counter help were allowed to accept the animals derived from domestic animals, but due to import laws were not allowed to accept returns for the exotic varieties. When you stood in line, you'd either be greeted with "great! Bull-feathers!" or "tough, Gnu-Geese". Apparently the later stuck in their minds as they travel back to our time.


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RE: The demise of good english and spelling things correctly

No matter which spelling you prefer, the etymology of the expression leads back to the first japanese immigrants to the usa (about 1890).
The japanese words tabenokoshi (food left-overs) and nuka (rice bran) mentioned together were the standard reply in a grim sense of humour when immigrants answered the questions about theiry newly achieved living standard.

Japanese people speak quite fast, and they tend to abridge words. Thus "tabenokoshi nuka" became "tabenuka". As non-japanese people didn't know about the real meaning of the expression, they understood the answer as "tough nougat" and interpreted this as "hard, but not unpleasant". In consequence japanese immigrants were humourously called "tough nougies". The expression was used discriminatingly after WW1, even more after WW2, and is totally out of historical context today.


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RE: The demise of good english and spelling things correctly

Interesting stories with so many versions. I actually like that hard chewy nougat with the coloured jellies inside - it's hard to find nowadays, but all this talk is making my mouth water.


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RE: The demise of good english and spelling things correctly

No! All the rival theories hereforto explicated are just so, so gronw. The proper explanation for tough nuggies is based on the same distinctly human dyslexic principle that stands proudly behind so many misspellings, mistakes and creations -- the tendency of the human mind to conflate what it stumbles upon.

In London in the 17th-century there was an incompetent French teacher called Madame Inapproppriatte. One day her butchering of the French language so scandalized her students that in their exasperation they upended her. However, once they had succeded in standing her on her head they discovered something quite alarming. For beneath her skirts, instead of being naked like any decent gentlewoman would be, she commited a grave offense. She wore smallclothes, breeches like those worn by men. Her students, confused by this reversal, tugged down on these breeches, thereby inventing the first wedgie. Madame Inapproppriatte then cried out (in English) "Nough Tuggie, Nough Tuggie," or, as some accounts atest "Tough Nuggie, Tough Nuggie."
Afterwards, needless to say, she had them all properly whipped as she sat there and smirked "Tough nuggies, you naughty tootsies you, tough nuggies."

Sprincgherry


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RE: The demise of good english and spelling things correctly

Here is a little diversion for those who want to get away from"the rival theories hereforto explicated" http://www.kittyburnsflorey.com/events.htm.


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RE: The demise of good english and spelling things correctly

I had a Toronto friend who used the phrase 'tough noogie toos'. No idea on spelling or origin of that one!
Like some of you, I am fairly pedantic and easily irritated by poor language. But, the English language is such a wonderfully fluid language. New words come and go. Sometimes a phrase or word is understood without ever having heard it before.
Making the meaning of an idea or question clear is the main thing. Making it interesting is the next thing. Both of these things can be decided only after understanding the audience you are writing for. If you have an international audience, it's best to write in a way your grade school teacher would approve of. That way, foreign readers like Susanne who speak and write good English will understand.
I use fractured sentences when I think they 'work' in the context of the piece I'm writing. I sometimes start sentences with words like 'but'or 'and'. These are all things that would make my grade school teacher cluck with disapproval, I'm sure. In my experience so far, editors have allowed these kinds of things.
My pet peeve is probably poor spelling - especially when the wrong word is used. Gardeners who are afraid they are going to 'loose' their favorite rose when winter comes around make me lose my patience and decry the overly loose standards of the average written word today.


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RE: The demise of good english and spelling things correctly

With all due respect, you folks crack me up!

-GC


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RE: The demise of good english and spelling things correctly

Some of you may not believe in coincidence, most westerners give the notion of fate short shrift yet this came my way today: chance?
I was reading a letter that my father wrote to my, soon to be, mother, in 1904, I was, apparantly a seed in the wind at that point in time. He was on the China seas, she was in Dorking.
"My Darling Ethel" it began, " Normal is not normal here" he spoke like that, taking a while to get to the point,"in China a cracked up garden chicken is known as a tough nuggy". When I read these words I could hardly contain myself because it seemed as though one of life's great mysteries had been explained and coincidently, as if by fate, it had fallen upon me to bring this discovery to the world.
Copyrighted text.


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RE: The demise of good english and spelling things correctly

Dearest Tony,

Would you please be so kind as to submit the second sentence of your post to the most esteemed Kitty Burns Florey and request her assistance in diagramming said sentence?

Please do so quickly, before my knuckles are rapped yet again by Sister Bernadette.

V.


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RE: The demise of good english and spelling things correctly

Caught in my own web eh, V? I didn't think anyone had read that link.


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RE: The demise of good english and spelling things correctly

I did...

But then I'm a terribly curious person.


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RE: The demise of good english and spelling things correctly

Excuse me while I drag this thread, kicking and screaming, back to its original subject.

As I was typing another post this morning I had a thought as to why good English and proper spelling seem to be on the decline. I am old enough that when I was in high school, I learned to type. I didn't learn keyboarding, I learned typing. There's a difference here that is more than a trendy term. When you typed on a typewriter, it was a very arduous process to correct a mistake. At the very worst, and not uncommonly, you had to rip out your sheet of paper and start all over again. Thus, it was VERY important to get it right the first time. Accuracy was a highly rated skill.

Some students never mastered the skill of typing and would pay professionals to type up their papers and assignments.

In keyboarding today, the ability to go back and correct your mistake is almost unlimited. I just typed "infinite" as the last word of the previous sentence, decided I didn't care for it and in one second had revised it, with no trace of my first thought for anyone to see. There is no longer a need to be 100% accurate the first time.

Those of us who have dealt with typewriters can enjoy this luxury. The downside, though, is that folks who never had to deal with the unforgiving finality of most typewriters have never learned to appreciate the need for a high degree of accuracy.

As a result, we get people who post questions about azileas to the Azalea forum, and folks who wonder if something is truly perrineal on the perennials forum.

V.


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RE: The demise of good english and spelling things correctly

This is just a baby boomer rant V. Be fair. Tippex is one product that I was glad to see fade away, perhaps I was/am a bad typer (bad type?) but word processing is a wonderful notion. By the time you get the tippex out you have forgotten what it was that you were saying anyway.
The young guy with the souped up Honda just flew by my window as I was typing/keyboarding this and if I had to stand in judgement over whether to bring back typewriters or cars with three gears and a top speed of 60mph I wood gi 4 t he ol dd fiord.


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RE: The demise of good english and spelling things correctly

Tippex? Is that a product older than liquid paper, older than those coated plastic correction tapes or definitely older than typewriters with correcting tape in them?

The question (why do people write and spell so poorly) is: Is it ignorance or indifference?


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RE: The demise of good english and spelling things correctly

I suppose that it is indifference towards ignorance.
Like "I don't care about what I don't know".


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RE: The demise of good english and spelling things correctly

Veronicastrum writes:

<...>Some students never mastered the skill of typing and would pay professionals to type up their papers and assignments. <...>

Ah, memories...
In 1964 I was fired from my job at a woman's college (from which I had graduated) because I became pregnant (I was married and our sole support since DH was still a full-time student). The good Sisters gave me a job I could do "at home" (where the students could not see me): typing papers for the student Sisters -- no mistakes, and real footnotes (as opposed to Notes at the end of the paper). "Erasable" paper was a no-no. The total words/strikes per page had to be figured like a math problem to make sure I did not type into the 1-1/2" required bottom margin. Sometimes I had to decipher the "writing." For this I was paid 15 cents for the original and 5 cents for each "carbon." (Alas, none of the papers I ever typed had anything to do with horticulture.) No unemployment compensation, either.... A newspaper columnist, to this day I shudder every time I make a mistake (and it happens more often than I would like -- LOL).


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RE: The demise of good english and spelling things correctly

Perhaps the demise of good English is tied to the proliferation of us common folk who happen to speak common English? We breed like wildfire, have no interest in talking with the snooty "propers", and resort to the language of the people, by the people.

It may be that our problem lies in the fact that one must have first been able to afford a typewriter before one could suffer the misery of typos. In our family, a typewriter was one of those fancy fixins that we miraculously were able to do without, Au Gratin to our potatoes, Chablis to our moonshine. Pencils were about as high-tech as we could get. We didn't have to worry about wasting expensive paper 'cause there was no one to read it. College? Guffaw! The teachers in grade school understood that, and the understanding was that the subject was much more important than making it pretty. "Dang it boy it's fixin to rain! You got the right answer, now put that pencil down and git home to help your ma bring in the hay!"

We learned pretty quick too, that we didn't have to bother spelling correctly. Heck, the teacher would always point out any errors....

It comes to mind that if one was able to tip one's nose down toward the keyboard while typing, there would be less of a chance for errors?

Poppa
(funnin' ya)


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RE: The demise of good english and spelling things correctly

Back to Eddie's comment about the shrub. A fellow who hybridizes crapemyrtle, Carl Whitcomb, gave a tour of his farm a couple of years ago and went on a soapbox to say that it is one word, not two. For one thing, it isn't a kind of myrtle at all, so you shouldn't write it as though it is a kind of myrtle by using 2 words. Personally, I think the first part should be crepe since the edges of the florets look like crepe fabric. I take Carl's word over mine though since he has spent much more time on the plants. Sharon in OK


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RE: The demise of good english and spelling things correctly

I guess we could do a whole cereal on a word being only one letter away from being rite. I was searching for some information on electrical wiring today and came across a reference to a "Serge interrupter" . Knowing how amorous the French are reputed to be and how common the French name Serge is I can only wince at what this item might be.


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RE: The demise of good english and spelling things correctly

It has only been a few generations in this country that we have attempted to educate every child. It is far easier to create a literate upper and middle class than it is to educate every child. Add to that a technology that rewards brevity and fosters anonymity, a culture that values the capacity of your wallet more than the capacity of your mind, and a language that has made its living by absorbing words from other languages, and what do you expect? Are you really that surprised? At least the internet gives exposure to proper grammar. At least the next person on the message board can, and usually does, point out your errors and calls you an idiot for writing so poorly.


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RE: The demise of good english and spelling things correctly

> a language that has made its living by absorbing words from other languages

This is a bad thing? It's what keeps a language alive.

> It is far easier to create a literate upper and middle class than it is to educate every child.

We still have a tiered educational system, though, and the product of the upper tier does not necessarily understand or value grammer and spelling any more than the people who came through the public school system. If you can express your thoughts clearly, who cares if your participles dangle?

> and calls you an idiot

No, I wouldn't go that far, you've made some good points.


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RE: The demise of good english and spelling things correctly

I agree that our language's ability to absorb other languages is what keeps it alive. It is that tendency that allows it to accept 'LOL,' 'IMHO,' and :)

I, actually, don't know what my opinion really is on this subject. I can see what appears to be a decline in writing skills, but that might just be from my perspective. I'm 36 years old and certainly see communication problems in my generation. The generation behind me seems far worse.
I've lived long enough to notice some cultural trends that I don't like. We've become less thoughtful, less intellectual. Where is my generation's CS Lewis, or Noam Chomsky? Our tools of communication have been revolutionized, but we seem intent on using them less skillfully.

I guess I see poor grammar as merely a minute part of a larger cultural problem. I get more irritated at people taking voting advice from movie stars.


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RE: The demise of good english and spelling things correctly

"Absorbing words from other languages" is how language was formed in the first place. Our whole system of the "English" language is based on adding, borrowing, stealing etc. from other tongues, eg. the word "bungalow" is actually an Indian word!

This is a whole different story to things like bad spelling, careless punctuation etc. etc. Someone mentioned before that the whole meaning is lost when the grammar/punctuation is not there, and it's so true. If we don't have some basic standards, where do we start and where do we stop.

English is a beautiful language, as are all the others. English is hard language to learn, but let's not ruin it for people who are trying to learn it by making it even more difficult and by breaking all the rules.


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RE: The demise of good english and spelling things correctly

I guess the question comes down to whether you believe that good grammar leads to clear thinking, or whether clarity of thought leads to good grammar.


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RE: The demise of good english and spelling things correctly

> If we don't have some basic standards, where do we start and where do we stop.

Interesting question? (It WAS a question, wasn't it?)


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RE: The demise of good english and spelling things correctly

"I guess the question comes down to whether you believe that good grammar leads to clear thinking, or whether clarity of thought leads to good grammar."

Education and experience with communicating in writing lead to improved grammer. To see what you are saying on the page in front of you has an impact , not immediate but over time.
In a world where children spend much of their time watching television and listening to CD's it was inevitable that grammer would suffer. I think the schools are trying to address that by requesting more written work.
As for the LOL's and such , when a people not accustomed to writing are suddenly confronted with a need to communicate this way innovations happen. Many fields of endeavour have made advancement
through the improvisation of new comers.

Clarity of thought often comes with rewriting and editing, but not always,LOL


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RE: The demise of good english and spelling things correctly

Yeah, sometimes it comes with a good bottle of claret! LOL..


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RE: The demise of good english and spelling things correctly

The purpose of the written word is to communicate. If the reader can easily determine the meaning, then it matters little if there are spelling or grammatical errors. It is only a problem if it interferes with communication. Those who rant and rave, are being self-rightous. Please feel free to correct my (unedited) spelling or grammar. I am a writer, an English major, and Mensa qualified (though i didn't join), and I do not wrap my self-worth around my abilities. Nor do I judge others by the quality of their writing, but by the quality of their charachter.

Nuff said.


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RE: The demise of good english and spelling things correctly

"Nor do I judge others by the quality of their writing, but by the quality of their charachter."

I don't believe that for a minute. There most certainly are times when we judge people by the quality of their writing. For example: I work in a large John Deere manufacturing plant which builds huge construction equipment. They are expanding operations and are to begin building a new product line -- a multimillion dollar expansion. The engineer that was selected to manage this project sent out an email to all plant employees that was grammatically botched and confusing. The first sentence didn't even make any sense.

What was the impression? Almost everyone in the plant was concerned that if this guy can't organize, pay attention to detail or delegate work on this project any better than he writes, this new product is in trouble.

It matters, Fritopie. It matters a lot.

IronBelly


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RE: The demise of good english and spelling things correctly

Of course it matters. A couple of decades ago, the local newspaper ran a -- still-remembered -- headline about an earthquake

BIG QUACK KILLS TWO.

Must have been some duck!


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RE: The demise of good english and spelling things correctly

It seems that there is some blurring of the lines between good grammar and good writing. I offer that one has little to do with the other. Seems the John Deer manager was cursed with being bad at both. Perhaps people would have had a different opinion had he merely had poor grammar, yet had expressed himself more eloquently?

Perhaps it's the reason he worked in a tractor factory.

Poppa


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RE: The demise of good english and spelling things correctly

I sometimes work with an architect, who is a master of eloquent speaking, every phrase clipped and precise. He can elegantly express difficult coherences with few words, when I would struggle with lengthy explanations and probably some stuttering. This, as long as spoken language is concerned, but God have mercy on us, when he tries to write it down. That's when he's happy to delegate the task.

To my opinion the many mistakes in spelling and syntax, as seen in internet messages, are due to the collision of spoken and written word. As a hybrid of telephone and fax rather an alternative than a successor to traditional mail, the internet is tempting people to write and post quickly, almost as fast as in direct talk.
Thus the advantage is with people, who are used to write their messages, even the brief ones, whereas those people, who are better at verbal communication, do have problems, which did not occur when using the telephone.

Another reason might be that every idiot can use the internet nowadays without fearing a gazillion of red marks blotching the message.


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RE: The demise of good english and spelling things correctly

Educational standards have been falling as a result of ideas about "educational reform" and a displacement of funding towards national defense, for a long, long time. We are now reaping the rewards of these long-term trends. Try, now, to read James Joyce with any significant degree of comprehension, and your sense of frustration at not having the background in "languages"--English, classical and foreign languages--that used to be considered requisite to life in the world will serve to point out what I'm getting at. I used to work as an English editor for a team of consultants all of whom had master's degrees or Ph.D.s, and I was in a constant state of astounded shock at the corrections I was being required to make. This problem (the demise of good English) has roots that run very deep into American culture; this much I can sense; but I confess that I haven't been able to perceive their ultimate connections. Part of the problem is certainly that this culture promotes physically strong or beautiful heroes and heroines while disparaging the academics as nerds. We have movies about Achilles and Alexander but none about Socrates. Culture, and I do mean world-wide, is becoming increasingly Machiavellian, in that results apparently justify all means. In such a cultural climate, all languages will suffer degradation, not only English, because they are seen as vehicles to accomplish goals and nothing more. Information technology has only served to reinforce this notion and to accelerate the pace of it. Language is no longer considered a thing of beauty in itself so much as a vehicle for effecting acts of communication, and the shorter the sentence or the faster that this may be accomplished, the better. And one last thing: "shouldn't punctuation be placed within quotation marks?"


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RE: The demise of good english and spelling things correctly

There has always been a cultural divide of this sort. Before WWII, there was no effort to educate the poor and rural in this country. The same is true in England. It seems to me that there a quite a few eloquent people running around. Perhaps nothing has really changed except our expectations. We believe an ethic of populist education, but we have never really been successful at it. Personally, I think more and more people are getting distracted from certain aspects of education. Those people that are intellectually driven are more likely to focus on a field that requires their full attention due to the specialized nature of today's sciences. I've had the opportunity to read the entrance essays of Medical School applicants and believe me when I tell you that you wouldn't believe that these young people have been in college at all! That isn't to say they are dumber than the doctors of the past. In fact, it is harder to be a doctor today. It's just that the economy doesn't care if you can write a complete sentence as long as you can safely remove brain tumors (or write good computer programs, etc).


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RE: The demise of good english and spelling things correctly

Thetes,

You are obviously a culturally deprived individual. There was indeed a modern movie about Socrates. It was called Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure.

IronBelly


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RE: The demise of good english and spelling things correctly

Good call, IronBelly. I stand corrected! and can only wonder how that celluloid icon of American Culture could have slipped away so completely from all vestige of recollection!


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Oops ... forgot one thing

To chubbles: your observation regarding over-specialization and the costs it entails seems to me to be correct. It is reminiscent of John Ralston Saul's "The Unconscious Civilization." -- a highly recommended book.


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RE: The demise of good english and spelling things correctly

> And one last thing: "shouldn't punctuation be placed within quotation marks?"

The convention varies between Europe (""?) and the US ("!") . I usually prefer the European version, because sometimes the quotation itself is not a question (or exclamation) but the sentence in which it is used is. Do you "know what I mean"?

The 'net makes regional distinctions like this break down, publishers would normally make these adjustments for different markets.


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RE: The demise of good english and spelling things correctly

And word processing programs make it easy for editors to fix/adjust them quickly:

FIND ?" REPLACE WITH "? -- REPLACE ALL.


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RE: The demise of good english and spelling things correctly

As a retired editor, I too am often appalled at the misspellings I've come across (far beyond the sadly typical their/there and your/you're errors). They bother me much more when I see them in websites that are supposed to be professional. How much confidence am I apt to have in a nursery whose catalog or website doesn't even spell a species name correctly??

I do realize that many businesses hire web design companies but doesn't the business owner take any time to examine and proofread the site's contents before uploading takes place? Or don't the web designers employ proofreaders?

The absolute worst sin, IMHO, is allowing a mailing or website or publication from an educational institution to contain errors in spelling, punctuation, or grammar. What kind of "quality message" does THAT send?!


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Good point KHloris, The worst example I have seen is glaring misspellings on the home page of book publishing sites. I mean, if they can't even catch their own mistakes, how are they going to catch mine? The first time I came across this I wanted so bad to jump their case on it but I thought it would be better to leave it as a warning to others.


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RE: The demise of good english and spelling things correctly

i don't mind it. writing and editing are two different things and a lot of very fine writers need help with the details. one reason i probably don't mind it is because my own grammar and spelling is terrible haha. i think a writer's main task is to communicate something of value, something original and interesting, thought provoking maybe, then if you want you can give it to the english geeks to sort out. the important thing is to communicate something and speak to people. essence, quality, you can communicate it with picture drawings if you want, i don't mind so long as you have something to say. that's what i think. :) i agree it's terrific to have a polished clear delivery, but more important is to have a message. how many important works have actually been written by trained writers ? i wager not many.


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RE: The demise of good english and spelling things correctly

Wild Garden: Witers cannot be trained. Get that thought out of your head. Dogs can be trained but writers generate too much drool when offered a snack and it either makes a mess of the keyboard or ruins the paper.

Poppa


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RE: More about the demise of good english and spelling things cor

For an interesting viewpoint on this subject go to : http://prospectmagazine.co.uk/article_details.php?id=6608


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RE: The demise of good english and spelling things correctly

I think you all would enjoy the book called "Eats, Shoots and Leaves." It's a very fun and witty book about common errors. Although as a writer myself (in the news profession - I bet I type 20 pages worth of text per day!), I must say, things like "How R U" can be welcome shortcuts at the end of a day!
;-)


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RE: The demise of good english and spelling things correctly

Thanks for the link, INK. It has some very good points, including: "correct usage is not an elite affectation; it is a badge of competence".


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RE: The demise of good english and spelling things correctly

"correct usage is not an elite affectation; it is a badge of competence"

of course it's an elite affectation. think about all the places you've travelled and the people you know. i was in belize a few weeks ago, they speak english there ... a very belizian english, a lot like the language of jamaica. and the aussies and kiwi's speak their own english with regional vocubularies, it's very similar to british english. and we americans have our own english which is slightly different across the country in different areas. and there are a huge number of people throughout the world who have learned english as a second or third language, especially in asia, and even in the united states where many mexican americans have learned the language later in life. so what does it mean to say that correct usage is not an elite affectation; it's a badge of competence, what does that mean ? competence in what ? communicating ? writing ? writing in english ? writing in a northeastern style american english taught in a united states primary school ? are belizian writers using an incorrect form of the language ? is an aussie writer wrong to use a regional dialect ? does a mexican writer lack competence if they learned english in a spanish school and are communicating to an american audience ? who decides ... the writer, the reader, the student, the teacher ... somebody who was taught "correct english" in a united states primary school and later in a university dominated by people who learned the rules in united states primary schools ? who is right and who is wrong ? the preface to my dictionary says clearly that it should not be consulated as a rule of right and wrong, but that the goal is instead to keep up with common usage ... even they won't declare themselves the final judge of correctness. of course "correct usage" is an elite affectation, it's a way of saying ... there are rules that not everyone knows, i took the time to learn them, and a lot of english speakers are writing the language incorrectly unlike us folks over here. what is more elitest than that ? tell the people in belize they don't know how to write in english and you'll probably get the same look you'd get from an internet writer who was just informed that "lol" isn't correct. language to the people! lol.


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RE: The demise of good english and spelling things correctly

Well, that certainly was an impassioned soliloquy. But, have you heard about the panda who eats, shoots and leaves?

IronBelly


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RE: The demise of good english and spelling things correctly

A great little book!


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RE: The demise of good english and spelling things correctly

Those who have been taught to do it right should do it right. Those who have not been taught correctly (or don't have the resource to learn it correctly) have a valid excuse for not being competent.

My point centers around those who have been taught to speak and write the English language correctly ... yet choose not to do so. And those who choose not to spell words correctly when dictionaries and spell check devices abound ... they need to be ashamed of their laziness (and inserting a comment after the word acknowledging that you don't know how to spell it is not a valid excuse). As I keep telling my 13 year old son, "A good speller is someone who knows when to look it up."


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RE: The demise of good english and spelling things correctly

Did you read the article wild, or are you commenting on the phrase that esh highlights only?
Your posting demonstrates how difficult it is to read what appears to be the transcript of a speech. Rather than follow the conventions of written English you have chosen to follow some and not others causing confusion in anyone with the patience to read it. The clarity that comes with "correct usage" of the written word has nothing at all to do with regional dialects or different accents. Henry Mitchell writes with the rhythm typical of his birthplace but what he writes is readily comprehensible, the same could be said of Salmon Rushdie or Ital Calvino, Gabrielle Garcia Marquez or Martin Amis.


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RE: The demise of good english and spelling things correctly

The rules of grammar and spelling were never intended for the common folk.

We who have been born into the coalmines of illiteracy have no need for words of fine white linen. We take a breath when nature dictates we must and not at the direction of a prissy aristocrat who declares commas are for such and such whilst colons are to be used in other situations.

We read with our calloused brains, made strong by the hard labor of working to understanding intent. Our writing does not cater to the elite and their wobbly gelatin-like pampered minds who, aghast at incorrectly placed punctuation, run whining to their lords and ladies. "Foul!" they cry. "Flog them Sire!"

And the common folk keep the stories alive, build new foundations, and give the elite a purpose.

X


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RE: The demise of good english and spelling things correctly

If we consider the question of good writing from a gardening perspective, we can readily identify several varieties of writing which sprawl all over the place and are very vigorous and sometimes even pretty like weeds thriving at the edge of a well-tempered garden (which try to push into cultivated spaces and overgrow and smother their prettier albeit less vigorous civilized cousins). Their prettiness can be appealing at times, in a rugged fashion like tall roadside thistles bedecked with goldfinches but they will rarely be sufficiently good-looking to be admitted to the refined company of garden annuals, and they can never hope to achieve the bright disposition of perennials, the suppleness of shrubs, or the lofty height of trees. They are short lived and have no staying power, arriving with the warm rains of spring and shriveling in the first frost. No gardener would consider saving their seeds to assure their propagation.


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RE: The demise of good english and spelling things correctly

as i said in my first post on this thread my own spelling and grammar is terrible, i think we've established that. :) but i did actually have a point, and that point was not that grammar and spelling doesn't matter ... i said above that i think a refined clear delivery is important. the point was that i think the more important thing is to have an actual message, you can refine it later. sure, pretty words and phrases are nice, the responses above illustrate that well. but that doesn't make a good writer. good strong content, a message, that's what makes a good writer. if you have a good message you can press a few buttons and let an editor make it pretty, just like you can touch a few buttons and have it transcribed by hand on vellum highlighted with gold leaf instead of using an ink jet. that kind of thing is trivial. i don't think the great challenge of writing is typos and poor spelling, i think there are other much more significant challenges ... challenges such as the search engine writer. poke in a few search engine queries, get a pile of junk back, condense it, make it pretty, spew the same low value garbage back at magazine readers. to me these are sins worth talking about. poppies don't transplant well, mixing sand with clay soil makes concrete, hybrid tea roses don't grow well on their own roots, you can make a useful amount of compost with a compost tumbler ... the list of lies and mistruths written by "garden writers" is nearly endless. my point was that writing is a lot more than a cute phrase or vivid analogy, it's about more than dressing things up with extravagant words from the thesaurus ... it's about actually saying something that has some kind of value. and as i said i agree spelling and grammar should be refined, especially if it's for a wide audience, the more important it is the more you should refine it. but i don't think that's such a big deal and it doesn't bother me to write or read poor grammar and spelling unless it's truly impossible to make any sense of it, very few things are that poorly written.

and the bit about the rules and regulations of writing in english, what i said about foreign writers, etc ... the point was the same ... not to get lost in the language at the expense of the message, that's all i said. does an american cease to be a good writer if they use a translator to communicate their message in german to a european audience ? you no longer have any control over the more subtle points, a cute phrase doesn't translate well, you don't know any exciting colorful words if you don't know the language, and the grammar is completely foreign. how many writers can claim what they are writing is still worth saying in another language ? is spelling and grammar really that big a deal ? that was the only point i was trying to make. not that rednecks should rule the world, that wild barbarians should take over the publishing houses or that we should just start spelling things however we want to (i'll do that, you shouldn't try that at home lol). but it is true i'd rather read poorly worded stuff that had a point than i would a pretty thing that says the same junk all over again. as i said in the very first message on this thread ... i don't care if you use picture drawings so long as you have something to say.


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RE: The demise of good english and spelling things correctly

This may meet all the requirements for good English (or did it?), but it still is goofy...

From CNN this a.m.

A key hub for relief flights, the runway was closed after a cargo plane hit a water buffalo shortly after it landed, CNN's Mike Chinoy reported.

Poppa


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RE: The demise of good english and spelling things correctly

I am not quite sure what to make of this. Using correct spelling, punctuation and grammar does not mean that the content will be sacrificed in any way. On the contrary, what it means is that you will write a simple sentence without confusing a reader with the ambiguity contained in poppa's example.


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RE: The demise of good english and spelling things correctly

It is always quite telling when someone creates an emotional "logic" based upon the hinge pin of an incorrect assumption. Good punctuation and grammar are not used to comply with a set of rules. A writer incorporates these as a courtesy to the reader and to make the ideas easier to read and understand.

I am well known among my friends for saying, "Don't tell me. Show me." Wild Garden has certainly shown us two fine examples. I waded through the first soliloquy. The second offering, however, I gave up about one-third of the way through. It was too difficult to bother reading any more. :-(

IronBelly


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RE: The demise of good english and spelling things correctly

i give up lol. :)

ink i did read the article in the link you posted, i forgot to mention that, was a great read thanks for posting it.


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RE: The demise of good english and spelling things correctly

Don't give up now wg.
One of the best books I read in the '90's (1990's for the cynical) was 'How late it was, how late' a novel that seems to be one long sentence. The writer, James Kellman puts down every discursive thought that his character has and there is a point to it, once you know what that is you get lost in the words.
Mostly though, when trying to make a point or communicate effectively, this is not a Good Thing.
It is difficult to read a piece written as you have done which is a shame if you have something valid to say, which seems to be your point. If you were to write down The Meaning of Life in such a way and we all gave up "one-third of the way through" what would you have acheived?


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RE: The demise of good english and spelling things correctly

Is it just me who feels that capitalization, punctuation and proper use of paragraph breaks are elements that are beneficial to the reader?

Much as I understand what you are trying to say wild_garden, it was extremely hard to read. I gave up after a while as well. And while you are right that an editor can "poof!" it all to be correct, you were not using an editor to "poof" this.

As the original poster on this thread, my whole point was not about people that write professionally. Goodness, I hope they know well enough to get their grammar right (as well as using spell checkers and grammar checkers). I am talking about your average Joe (and Jill).

I certainly hope that people don't think that education is just for the elite anymore. I believe that education is a requirement for children in the US now. So everyone appears to have the opportunity to learn basic reading and writing skills. I could be wrong, I guess.

Please don't think we don't respect your opinion, wild_garden, everyone is entitled to one. I still think that basic skills are important, should be learned and should be USED.


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RE: The demise of good english and spelling things correctly

Me too.


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RE: The demise of good english and spelling things correctly

Perhaps this thread has come to the end of its bobin but...on PBS last night there was a programme called "Do you speak American". In one segment it showed a classroom situation where kids from multiple ethnic backgrounds were being taught correct English like it was a second language. They would start with a phrase written on the blackboard, it would be phrase written as it was spoken at home or among their peers. The kids would then translate it into an acceptable written form. The purpose was not to change the way they spoke but to teach them that to communicate outside their group to pass exams or apply for a job, say, then correct English was the preferred method.


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RE: The demise of good english and spelling things correctly

I read several emails and posts this week (one from an editor who should know better) where the misspellings made it hard for me to understand what the writer was trying to say. It reminded me once again that a precise use of language (which includes correct spelling and syntax) is necessary for proper communication.

(When someone asked me to "bare with her" I wondered if she wanted to go nekkid. I did not ask her to clarify.)


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RE: The demise of good english and spelling things correctly

John, That was doubly funny because it reminded me of when I was in the Army and one of my sister's friends wrote and said she couldn't wait till I came home so she could meat me.


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Language lasagna

Did she? LOL


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RE: The demise of good english and spelling things correctly

I was the first boy she had ever kissed but that was as far as it went.


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RE: The demise of good english and spelling things correctly

Eye thynk u r beeing uptite. (There's a joke in there somewhere...)

I would hate to limit my exposure to opinions and ideas to only those presented with equal or superior linguistic skill. I am sure you mean no ill will, but there are those who might find your statement hurtful or embarrassing. Posts on either end of the grammatical spectrum can be difficult to read, but let's take from them what we can and move forward with an understanding heart.


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RE: The demise of good english and spelling things correctly

  • Posted by Cady 6b/Sunset34 MA (My Page) on
    Mon, Apr 11, 05 at 13:32

Donuts, anyone?


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RE: The demise of good english and spelling things correctly

I couldn't give a hoot about any demise of good english (English?) or spelling. The 'good' as defined by who? It's like the demise of the traditonal marriage. What traditional marriage? White waspish Christian heterosexuals?

What 'good' English? That of the back streets of Kingston, Jamaica? The villages of Kenya? I assume 'good' English means either that of Brtain or the U.S.A. So why is American spelling and British acceptable? Is writing theater instead of theatre the demise of English spelling? If not, why, and why does someone writing 'colur' mean its demise?

The Americanization of English allowed the language to evolve to meet a need and other spellings are just a part of that evolution. There is no demise of good English because there is no such thing as 'good' English. Being a slave to tradition isn't good but a recipe for stagnation. Let the rappers rap and the jivers jive.


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RE: The demise of good english and spelling things correctly

There are lots of good Englishes and then there is just the sloppiness of those who think free-form make-it-up-on-the-spot english is good enough because they are too lazy to bother getting anything universally legible. As an analogy think of driving -- there are different protocols for driving on race tracks, across open fields, and on inhabited streets, but within each protocol there are right and wrong ways. The wrong ways lead to disaster for someone, hopefully the perpetrator.


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RE: The demise of good english and spelling things correctly

That's not a valid analogy. Literature and expression thrive in the United States. The perpeuators of American English spellings and vocabulary use didn't create a 'disaster' as you suggest but rather opened up a whole new world of creativity. Language is foremost about communication and expression. Variations on the English language, both oral and written, flourished for centuries before any 'good' English prevailed. Today millions of young people around the world are on the Internet and using their own 'not-good-english' to communicate and express themselves. Everyone from isolated seniors to previously semi-literate ghetto kids...who may have written a letter or two a year... are now sitting down every day without a smidgeon of thought about 'good' english and furiously tapping at their keyboards. They previously barely used the written language and today they are emerged in it up to their overflowing email boxes.


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RE: The demise of good english and spelling things correctly

  • Posted by Herb Victoria, B.C. (My Page) on
    Sat, Apr 16, 05 at 13:12

People who'd read things written by Evelyn Waugh used to say that simply seeing his name at the top of an article gave them an irrestible urge to read what followed.

Isn't that the test of 'good' English? English written so well that people enjoy reading it, no matter what the topic?


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"Today millions of young people around the world are on the Internet and using their own 'not-good-english' to communicate and express themselves."

A couple years back PBS had a piece on literacy and with the advent of the computer Americans on every age, racial and education demographics read and write more words in a day than ever before. Literacy is flourishing and not, as the grammarians would claim, declining. Who knows the figures but probably a 10 million words are written for every word published in print.


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RE: The demise of good english and spelling things correctly

Yes, Alpiner, language is about communication and expression. That is why in composing your posts you adhere to the very spellings, grammar, and punctuation that you suggest are so suffocating of creativity. Shall we conclude that you are uncreative, or just that you want to be comprehended? That you'd rather be a "slave to tradition", even though that's a "recipe for stagnation" -- as you have famously written -- so your ideas can be part of this argument? You own writing throws your arguments into a cocked hat, a traditional phrase I am sure you understand. The "world of creativity" you write about did not come about by the efforts of ignoramuses, but by people who already understood the standards and purposely modified them to achieve a result. Do you think the great cubists did not know how to sketch realistic figures; that the author of "Finnegan's Wake" did not speak standard Irish-accented English; that composers of 12-tone music never mastered classical texts; or that the innovators of any field were ignorant of what they were building on? Do you think the innovative political thinkers misunderstood how monarchies worked, or that the Wright brothers never figured out how hot-air balloons rose? Of course you don't; you are too well-educated in the traditional manner to think such things.


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RE: The demise of good english and spelling things correctly

  • Posted by Cady 6b/Sunset34 MA (My Page) on
    Fri, Apr 22, 05 at 12:58

In sum: The rules may be broken only by those who have mastered them.


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RE: The demise of good english and spelling things correctly

I have not been able to visit this site in several months and am excited to see that this particular thread is still active. As a former English teacher and writer I am constantly amazed at what is written today. By the way, how R all of U?


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RE: The demise of good english and spelling things correctly

Pinetree:

Balderdash. Such elitist pomposity. Language evolves on the streets and in the factories and on the farms. Language evolves from the pen of what you would call 'ignoramuses' such as teen song writers and sports announcers. Your rules are broken by whoever decides to break them. The consequence is that written language and literacy is much more inclusive that it has ever been. More people today could read and understand the words to Bob Dylan's 'Homesick Blues' than contemporaries could read and understand the fluff in 'Ode to a Nightingale'


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RE: The demise of good english and spelling things correctly

  • Posted by John_D USDA 8b WA (My Page) on
    Fri, Apr 22, 05 at 16:13

Bolshevist language theory appears to be alive and well north of the border. I'm always amazed how people living in different countries have different viewpoints about language, literature, social services, et al. Fascinating stuff.


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RE: The demise of good english and spelling things correctly

Well, Alpiner, I'm not enough of a pompous elitist to reach back for the word "balderdash" to try making a feeble point. And I never said teen-age song writers or sports announcers (don't you mean sportscasters, the non-elitist term?) are ignoramuses. Please try to read what is written. You seem to be hung up on the politics of language, judging from your earlier comment on traditional marriages. But despite your eagerness to seem like an unbuttoned no-holds-barred counter-cultural advocate of the common man, your writing is stilted and pedantic. Maybe you like to see others break 'the rules' so that you won't have to? Or were you jilted by an English major?


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Creative use of good English

  • Posted by John_D USDA 8b WA (My Page) on
    Fri, Apr 22, 05 at 16:38

Perhaps she flunked a creative writing course?


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RE: The demise of good english and spelling things correctly

Feel free to wallow in the demise of 'good' English. Meanwhile hundreds of millions of people will continue to tap away merrily on their keyboards (are you also aghast at the demise of good typing skills?) and communicate with more clarity than ever before. Eight year olds in your country will correspond with eight year olds in mine and they will understand eachother just fine. Language, written and oral, is about communication and not about preserving prissy 19th century English public school grammar. The Internet, thank heavens, is creating its own body of spelling, new words, symbols, shorthand and grammar. There is an evolution of language that corresponds to its use as a means of communication. The next generation of school teachers will be today's Internet kids and they will be more focused on the communication of ideas rather than if the word 'communication' has one 'm' or two.


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I would just like to congratulate esh_ga for starting this thread that now has 100 posts.


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RE: The demise of good english and spelling things correctly

One of the worst improper phrases in modern English is the use of "going to", or more commonly "gonna",instead of "will". Yet (probably improper!?), if one (note I did not use "you", improper!) searches for articles on the web about bad English grammar, one will find entries where the educating author is "Going to"(not will),rewrite a bad grammar paragraph into a good one, as an example! With people in the media, politics,etc., in high profile positions using bad grammar constantly, especially the media, where brevity is so crucial it translates into money, how are we ever going to...er I mean will we ever set the example?

Imagine what immigrants just learning English think about phrases they never learned in English classes?

Now I asks ya, just whatareya gonna do?


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RE: The demise of good english and spelling things correctly

Alpiner makes an eloquent argument, but it is eloquent only because his prose attacks stylized prose while following all the rules of stylized prose. In other words, Alpiner's hypocrisy undermines his argument. I think he is frightened to death of spelling errors or mis-punctuation. Truly a pathetic spokesman for the abandonment of "prissy 19th century English public school grammar". Is there nobody out there with the cojones Alpiner has lost?


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RE: The demise of good english and spelling things correctly

What a pleasant thread to read for a change, not having to stumble over misspelled words! Typos are a pet peeve of mine. I see them on TV newscasts, billboards, packaging...well, everywhere these days! People just don't care and it's sad.

A phrase that has me shaking my head recently: "somebody WENT MISSING" !!?? Where on earth did that come from?


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RE: The demise of good english and spelling things correctly

An interesting piece on NPR this morning about building robots that can truely communicate with a human. They went on to explain the difference between following a set of grammar rules and using a dictionary (see where this is going?) versus being able to apply the language in a way that reflects the shared environment or experiences.

I quickly thought about this thread (mostly because i knew i'd spell "immeadiately" wrong...) and how, in my view, it ain't so much how you say it as it is what you have to say.

Even robots are learning to get it.

Poppa


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RE: The demise of good english and spelling things correctly

Some of my personal favorites are:

"The ozone layer is being depleated."
"Special Olympics are for people with liabilities."
A congresswoman said,"I represent the disinfected."
"Orientated"
"criterions"
"emotionalize"

LoreD


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RE: The demise of good english and spelling things correctly

And don't forget all those flooded cities that are "evacuated".


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RE: The demise of good english and spelling things correctly

  • Posted by popi NSW Aust (My Page) on
    Tue, Oct 24, 06 at 3:45

Can I have a little whinge, all the way from the other side of the world....

I feel our Australian English is being changed by the "Americanisation" of some words.

Like theatre...theater
colour...color
and many more.

And words like "awesome", "like" are used by our young people all the time, I suspect because of the influence of American TV.

I hope I didn't offend anyone by my comments. I still love you...

Popi


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RE: The demise of good english and spelling things correctly

"Like" is so, like, overused. Very annoying.

Lately I've noticed a tendency for people to declare that they could care less. So they do care a little bit?


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RE: The demise of good english and spelling things correctly

so many good stories on writting,
my heart goes out to those who cannot.


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RE: The demise of good english and spelling things correctly

RE: The demise of good english and spelling things correctly

Excellent, then let us begin. English is a both a language and an ethnic group and therefore the noun "English" should always be capitalized. Also English cannot be considered to be "good", as "good" infers a moral judgement, rather, when discussing grammatical correctness, one should state that the English one uses is either proper or correct.

I hope your readers are edified by my poor attempts to employ English with the measure of respect that a language of its complexity and expressiveness deserves.

Regards,
William Rymer


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RE: The demise of good english and spelling things correctly

(And then there is the other extreme) Figure that one out.
I would like to tell a true story that exemplifies how our society is going to Hell in a handbag: As a volunteer at the flower show at the state fair I watched as busloads of very young children were led through the flower exhibits on to the petting zoo. I told one group led by two teachers that there were bathrooms at the end of the building. One lady took all the little girls into one bathroom and the other lady said "Who all needs to go to the bathroom?" One little boy raised his hand politely and the teacher said "Yes?" The boy said "I don't need to go to the bathroom." To which the teacher replied "I didn't say who don't need to go to the bathroom, I said who do."
And sadly, that is who is teaching our kids how to speak and who is leading by (bad) example.


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RE: The demise of good english and spelling things correctly

The reason for typo's on your screen is voice recognition, which is going to take the place of the English student, teacher and editor, once it is trained to do their job. (I shoulda sed oncet its traned 2 do there werk).

Am I upset about it? No, mad as hell is more like it. It is an insult to professionals and nonprofessionals, anyone who loves to do write, who loves to spell, who loves to read that which is readable.


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RE: The demise of good english and spelling things correctly

What a long lasting, interesting and popular subject. I just scanned many of the posts. I'm puzzled by goodfellas' (excuse me if I've remembered the name incorrectly) post stating that "One of the worst improper phrases in modern English is the use of "going to", or more commonly "gonna",instead of "will"." I'm learning Spanish, and an easy way to express the future is to use the verb to go (ir). I was surprised (and pleased) when taught that I could use this familar construction in Spanish as in English. EG: I am going to work in the garden tomorrow. (Voy a trabajar en el jardn maana.) Is this also one of the worst improper phrases in modern Spanish? How interesting that we evolved improperly in the same way. Or did we? By which I mean is it not incorrect, but actually rooted in other languages as well. I wish I remembered Latin from High School better! It's rather nice to think of the future tense as "I will work ..." (Trabajar..) as a way to distinguish between the two in my mind. It gives me the idea that I may be able to use the tiniest bit of nuance even at my poor level of Spanish speaking.


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RE: The demise of good english and spelling things correctly

I can not spell. i haven't been able to spell since i flunked spelling in second grade. but i know that i have a problem, so i use spell check. but spell check doesn't understand usage/context ie: their and they're are both correct to spell check even if used incorrectly. that is one reason why people spell incorrectly, even if they are using a computer-- spell check says it's okay.

some people don't spell well because they don't know they have a problem. they don't even bother to go and check-- it looks okay to them. i know the word is wrong; i just don't know what's wrong with it.

my latin and german professors dispair of me. my papers
were littered with (sp)'s written by me before they were
turned in. after 3 years of college german, a professor
finally counted all the languages that i had spelling problems with: english, latin, french, german, spanish, italian and stopped counting as it seems my weakness also extended into more archaic languages as well.

but my neices and nephews, brought whole new meaning to my
inabilities when i started reading their letters and papers.
evidently, content was more important (and this i question as well) than the technical aspects of writing such as spelling, grammar, punctuation etc.

my wife and i share a special pet peeve over mis-used
possives.

diggerb


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RE: The demise of good english and spelling things correctly

I think of all the ridiculous mis-spellings I've ever run across, this is the maddest......someone posting on a forum in a national newspaper was bemoaning the level of illiteracy "...threw out the world...." It took me several seconds to realize she meant 'throughout the world'.
Changes to the English language should be made only by people who understand the language in the first place; ignoramuses and illiterates should keep their sticky fingers OFF.


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