Language is a tool. Learn to use it.

31 01 2008

i dont care wat peple say my riting is gud and if tey cant see past my speling it is there loss. why shud i hav 2 spel rite my storie is moar importent then how i rite it.

Here is a recent graduate of the Derek Zoolander Center For Children Who Can’t Read Good and Don’t Wanna Learn To Do Other Stuff Good Too. Let’s translate into English what Stupid is saying:

I can’t write.

What he thinks he’s saying, of course, is:

My story is so bloody awesome that the poor spelling and grammar won’t matter and, if you could just get off your high horse for two seconds and read it, you’d see how awesome it is and you’d lick my toes clean every day forever.

Every job requires tools. We are by nature creatures which utilise tools to get things done. Whether those tools are simply our hands, or have been manufactured and are mapped by the brain as an extension of our bodies, we need tools to achieve the best result.

Example: Your car is squeaky. You take it to the mechanic, and he looks at it. While he does, you gaze idly around the workshop and see that all he has is a collection of well-used hammers. You thank him politely and drive the hell away before he can wreck your car for you.

Example two: You want to read a story, but all you can see is a collection of letters hammered vaguely together by an Autistic child who seems to also have a combination of Aphasia and Synesthesia. You put it down and walk away quickly before he can wreck your brain for you.

u no wat? ur a snob.

Yes. Yes, I am. I expect anyone practicing a craft to have, well, practiced it and gained some measure of skill over time and with effort. I expect a writer to show willingness to grow, an eagerness to learn, and an ability to examine written text critically and ask himself how and why it works (or doesn’t). And if my peculiar beliefs mean that I miss out on the world’s next The Stars My Destination then so be it. Oddly, though, I suspect that I won’t.

There also seem to be a particular set of words which provide immense difficulty for, say, idiots:

Women: It’s a plural, not a singular. The word you are blindly groping for is woman.

There / Their / They’re: Oh, come on. This one is not hard! The clues are in the spellings! There is here with a T on, so must mean location. They’re has an apostrophe, so a contraction is present (because it’s obviously not posessive), in this case short for “They are”. That leaves Their, which, being the odd one out, must be the posessive of the three.

Your / You’re: Again, another one that isn’t hard. So not hard that it’s not worth me explaining. See above and apply brain.

Antidisestablishmentarianism: Yes, now I’m taking the piss. But so is anyone who can’t be arsed to learn to use their language of choice before calling themselves a writer.

Today’s lesson, then: Lern 2 rite gud, or u will be regectid.




2 responses

1 02 2008

I agree with all this. As an occasional editor myself, it’s something that drives me crackers also.

However. I offer two excuses. For discursive purposes only.

They are poor ones, and I don’t necessarily agree with them myself, but here they are:

1. Microsoft Word’s Automatic spell checker.
2. Psychological inability to edit your own work.

Word’s insidious underlining of words wot you have spelt wrong encourages quick typing, with little self discipline. The problem is, it becomes a trained response. Only correct words that are underlined in red. Keep typing. Word will tell me if I make a mistake. Keep typing. Next Sentence. Keep typing…..Thus in your second example above and others: were, where, its, it’s..etc…etc….don’t get corrected ‘cos they’re not spelt wrong ‘cos Word hasn’t told me they are.

Diminishing value of self edits. It’s is a known fact that you cannot edit your own work fully succesfully. You read what you expect to see, not what is written down. In every field of industry, where writing words down in an appropriate format is a requirement, work will be reviewed and edited by a peer/boss/editor…..technical docs, copy, marketing blurb, presentations, manuals…..etc…etc….. It’s the conceit of the ‘writer’ that a work can be self edited. I can usually forgive the occasional ‘there they’re their’ mistake, ‘cos I’m just as bad as the rest.

What sometimes strikes me as funny are the people who, upon recieving feedback on their submitted work which basically says ‘sort your spelling, grammar and punctuation out’, will then pick out every point in your email to them (or post on a blog) where there might be a spellnig mistake (!Yes, I know!) and respond with something like : “How dare you comment, when you can’t even write yourself.

People! There is a world of difference between a hastily dashed off post, and a work submitted to an agent/editor/publisher for consideration as a professional document. Sigh.

So, in conclusion. Automatic spell checkers good but bad. Get someone else to edit your work for spelling, punctuation and grammar before you send it off. Occasional lapses are a pain but forgivable.

Nobby, who has spent the entire morning procrastinating – of which this post is yet another excuse not to get going.

1 02 2008
Trudi Topham

Get going, Nobby. You have work to do! 😀

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