For Christ’s sake, learn to spell!

I’ve been more than a little put off recently by all the spelling mistakes and typos in blog posts I read. Okay, I admit it, I’m a Nazi when it comes to spelling and grammar, it’s in the blood! And being an editor it’s just what I do.

I’m the first to admit my writing has plenty of mistakes scattered through it too, don’t get me wrong. But I hate text speak when it’s not in a text message, and I hate made up words. Yes, alright, I can hear the counter argument already: aren’t all words made up? Of course. I studied linguistics, I understand how languages evolved, and I’m fully aware that English is the most made up, random, inconsistent language of all. So I’ll narrow down my gripe a bit. What really shits me are words that sound like they could be words but really aren’t. “Agreeance” is a prime example. Dude, the word is “agreement”, there’s no such word as “agreeance”! It’s like saying something is “beautive” instead of beautiful, or that you felt “confusement” instead of confusion.

I guess I’m also kind of annoyed at bloggers who don’t proof read before hitting publish. Not to say that I expect no mistakes or typos – it’s a blog post, it is spontaneous by its very nature and you can’t expect some expertly-honed piece of literary genius. But I notice a significant variation between posts, to the extent that I enjoy some authors’ work less because it’s full of typos and mistakes. What really annoys me is when those bloggers are being paid to blog! I just think it’s sloppy and dodgy.

I’ll leave you with some new and wonderful words courtesy of Gertrude Perkins, aka Mr E Blackadder.

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Author: curiosikat

Writer, editor, linguist, social historian...

6 thoughts on “For Christ’s sake, learn to spell!”

  1. “I’ve been more than a little put off recently by all the spelling mistakes and typos in blog posts I read. Okay, I admit it, I’m a Nazi when it comes to spelling and grammar, it’s in the blood! And being an editor it’s just what I do….”

    Notice your opening paragraph now:

    “I’ve been put off by the spelling mistakes and typos in blog posts I read. Okay, I admit it. I’m a Nazi about spelling and grammar. It’s in the blood! Editing is the thing I do….”

    You can’t say ‘is what I do’ because that would be a grammatical error; forms of the verb ‘to be’ must never be followed by a preposition or a connective.

    Spelling, grammar, sentence structure, punctuation, and word selection are important. I could write “all important,” but the ‘all’ would be unnecessary. Take out every word that does not help the sentence. If you are going to be a grammar Nazi, you have to ensure that your writing is an example to others.

    I enjoyed your rant, if I may call it that without offending you, and you may take comfort knowing that others in cyberspace agree with you.

    Best wishes.

    1. Thanks for your refreshing and honest reply! I hadn’t heard that rule about the verb ‘to be’. Typical English grammar, complex and full of intricate rules! I never said I stick to all the rules, because the rules themselves are changeable and flexible. Language changes. In my experience with editing, I have learnt that there is always something to be corrected or improved in writing. Writing off the cuff, as in a blog post, is definitely going to be conversational and casual. Anyway, that’s for another blog post I guess! Glad you enjoyed my rant (yes, that’s what it is) and also happy to hear there are some others out there who’ve noticed the awful spelling mistakes floating about. And thanks for pointing out that issue with ‘is what’, you’re technically and absolutely correct! I guess compared to some I am merely the equivalent of a member of the Hitler Youth Movement, rather than a Nazi, when it comes to grammar.

      1. Actually, the rules seldom change. They are not particularly flexible. The verb ‘to be’ has special properties, which have long been central to English grammar. For instance, ‘is to be’, ‘was to be.’ ‘are tobe’ involve using an infinitive, rather than a preposition or connective. This may be the most common grammatical error. It occurs because people assume that these forms are future tenses of the verb ‘to be.’

        The point of editing is correcting grammar, sentence structure, and word selection to communicate the writer’s ideas. If the ‘rules of the road’ are constantly in a state of flux, editing ends by obliterating the sentences.

        English has rules and exceptions to rules, but the exceptions are rules. That may seem counter-intuitive, but it is true.

        [Thanks for your refreshing and honest reply! I hadn’t heard that rule about forms of the verb ‘to be’. English grammar is complex and full of intricate rules! I didn’t say that I stick to all of them, because the rules are changeable and flexible. Language changes.

        In my experience, I have learnt that there is always something to be corrected or improved by editing. Writing off the cuff, as in a blog post, is conversational and casual. Anyway, that’s for another blog post!

        I am glad that you enjoyed my rant (yes, that’s what it is). I’m happy to hear that there are others who have noticed the awful spelling mistakes. Thanks for pointing out that issue with ‘is what’; you’re correct! Compared to grammar, I am merely the equivalent of a member of the Hitler Youth Movement, rather than a Nazi.]

        Forgive me. I took the time to edit your message. Please, don’t be offended. Good editing doesn’t change the ideas. It clarifies them. I trust that I didn’t alter your ideas, just your words. Notice that I deleted some of them. Notice that I added a verb to make a sentence complete. Notice that your message holds together.

        I don’t mean to offend. Editing has been a central focus of my professional life for the past 35 years. Writing ought to be good whether or not it is casual, professional, or academic. I hope that you agree.

        Best wishes,
        Geoffrey

      2. Thanks for the lengthy reply! It is most thought-provoking. I can’t say I agree completely, with regard to your points about English grammar rules rarely changing and about the point of editing. I think so-called corrections can sometimes destroy the originality of a piece of writing, intruding too much upon the author’s voice. I know you mentioned this when rewriting my response, but in fact I’m afraid you have not retained it’s original meaning or its voice through your corrections. That’s not to say my original words weren’t ambiguous, perhaps they were. But now the meaning has changed for me. I’m not offended at all, more puzzled! And curious about how you deal with varying spellings and colloquialisms in English. How do you retain meaning, style, voice and yet ensure correctness?

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