General Question

AstroChuck's avatar

Du skoolz teech speling an grammir nomorr?

Asked by AstroChuck (37373points) August 10th, 2008 from iPhone

What is going on? It seems more and more posters have no desire to try and spell or use the English language correctly. And it’s not just on Fluther either. I find people butchering the language in everyday life and see flyers with tons of misspelled words. What is going on? Are these topics taught in classrooms anymore? Are people just lazy? I know it’s easy to make spelling mistakes, especially while typing with an iPhone, but some effort must me made. Am I wrong?

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55 Answers

PupnTaco's avatar

Is it an East thing? I see plenty of poor spelling out here in California. Let’s not blame an entire region (OK, maybe the South).

Me made lots of effort, too.

gailcalled's avatar

It’s the hormoans.

eambos's avatar

And the awesomeness.

gailcalled's avatar

Definatly tru.

flyawayxxballoon's avatar

Yes, these subjects are still taught…unfortunately, too many people out there don’t care whatsoever.

SuperMouse's avatar

AstroChuck you are officially my hero! Well, one of my many heroes. As the mother of three school aged children, I can tell you that the teaching of grammar and English and spelling are alive and well here in the Midwest. I do however see and hear appalling examples of poor grammar every single day, that’s when I wonder to myself “where are the grammar police at?” (I usually answer myself with a friendly “right behind that preposition.” – shout out to gimmedat).

Another thing I personally have been wondering is if there are some people out there who do not bother to look at their posts before hitting the Answer! box. Some of you may be surprised to hear that the friendly folks at Fluther use a red dotted line (thelineyouseeunderthisword), to denote words that are misspelled! Respect the line, it will go a long way toward improving the quality of your post! Another fabulous trick I learned a while back is called “proof-reading” that is the act of reviewing what you write before posting.

augustlan's avatar

@Super: Fluther does not have spellcheck, it’s your browser. (here=hear)

iwamoto's avatar

it’s just part of the internet youth i guess, damn kids, and the most embarrassing thing ? my grammar is a lot better and sophisticated than some of the “kids in america” (whoohooo)

SuperMouse's avatar

@augustain, I caught that here/hear thing a moment too late! YIKES!

augustlan's avatar

@Super: Don’t you hate when that happens? I did it just the other day, and Gail caught me!

SuperMouse's avatar

I HATE it, especially when I have jumped into a thread bemoneing (that’s for you Gail), the lack of good grammar and spelling!!!

marinelife's avatar

There are some last bastions of good usage here in the Collective. Sadly, correction is often met with hostility.

I join you in your despair, AC. Have you noticed that books often contain errors in spelling and grammatical errors today? That was not the case in my youth. I think publishers and others believe that editors are not necessary in the world of computerized spellling and grammar checkers. A contention that is patently false.

augustlan's avatar

Signs, menus, books…I can’t believe the errors I see in printed material these days.

BonusQuestion's avatar

It is very easy to make mistakes if you are not a native speaker of English.

flyawayxxballoon's avatar

@august; I can’t believe it, either…books, menus, signs, etc. are supposed to be intelligently written and, in many cases, informative. When such errors exist, how they be considered intelligent or informative? Of course, everyone makes mistakes, but not to this ridiculous extent.

AstroChuck's avatar

@SuperMouse- I might be about to lose your respect. When you say “right behind that preposition” you aren’t implying that ending a sentence with one is incorrect, are you? I hope not.
@august & flyaway- That’s what I was referring to when I mentioned flyers. It’s embarrassing to see how many nicely printed menus and books with so many misspellings. It’s as if nobody cares anymore. God knows I make my share of mistakes, especially with this iPhone, but at least I make the effort to be accurate.

SuperMouse's avatar

@AC, no, no, no, I still respect you, you aren’t my hero anymore, but I respect you. joke Anyway, even though the rule about ending a sentence with a preposition is outdated, it still drives me out of my mind. Even if it is alright these days, it is redundant and that really, really annoys me.

AstroChuck's avatar

It’s not that it’s outdated. It never applied to English in the first place. It does, however, apply to Latin. For some reason there as been this misconception that it is wrong to end an English sentence with a preposition.
All I ask for is a little R-E-S-P-E-C-T.
sock it to me, sock it to me, sock it to me, sock it to me…

MrMeltedCrayon's avatar

@Bonus: But what if you are? There are a lot of people (not just kids either) that make absolutely no attempt at proper spelling or grammar usage. It’s easy enough to forgive someone who isn’t a native speaker, especially if you’ve tried to learn another language and know how it feels, but when it comes to the lazy asses that use ‘u’ instead of ‘you’ and ‘r’ instead of ‘are’? I can’t stand them.

breedmitch's avatar

@Chuckie: Does the repeal of the preposition rule mean my favourite joke is now obsolete?

A small town southern woman is invited to an elegant social function in a nearby city. Trying to be polite and make friends, she asks a group of women, “Where are you ladies from?”
One coldly replies, “We are from a place where we do not end our sentences with a preposition.”
Hurt by this response, the first woman replies, “Oh, my apologies. Where are you from, bitch?”

AstroChuck's avatar

Next time just tell it in Classic Latin.

(and no rule has been repealed because there never was one.)

Spargett's avatar

People know it. They just think it looks cooler the other way.

Anything to “stand out” and fit in right?

AstroChuck's avatar

Always. In fact just yesterday I was telling someone how Spargett is constantly right.

BarbieM's avatar

Obviously this is casual conversation here, but in formal discourse, ending a sentence in a preposition is still considered poor form.

gailcalled's avatar

W. Churchill said, famously, “This is something up with which I will not put.”

gailcalled's avatar

He was satirizing pedantic speech, if I remember correctly.

gailcalled's avatar

Check out this T-shirt

gailcalled's avatar

This from another question; from a youngster, I guess.

“i think everyone has an unanswered question from the deceased.. i kno i do.. i mean when sumone u expect to see the next day jus vanishes and you have not thought to why.. it kinda makes you wanna kno what was running through their mind rite ”

AstroChuck's avatar

I wish that shirt was available in short sheeve! Damn funny.

augustlan's avatar

@Gail: Great shirt!

nikipedia's avatar

Maybe society has come to a collective decision that as long as you get your point across, spelling and grammar don’t matter? Because that’s kind of how I feel…

Language isn’t math. You can bend the rules. I like to take poetic license with spelling and grammar, sometimes.

augustlan's avatar

@niki: Certainly not a collective decision, as you can see here.

tinyfaery's avatar

The English language is a living entity. It is perpetually expanding and changing; it is necessary for our language to keep up with the moment, so that we may adequately express ourselves. Knowledge has become more available to those who previously had little to no access, and as such, the language is changing.

Language is not only a form of communication, but a tool of oppression; it is the fundamental key to knowledge, and those with the knowledge, are typically those with the power as well. Such an attachment to elitist values, values that exclude those who have little to no access to this knowledge, is…

Just because someone doesn’t have the best spelling, or breaks the grammar regulations, doesn’t mean that they lack intelligence, or that their opinions and feelings do not matter.

Like Niki said, as long as you can get your point across, I’m okay with it.

AstroChuck's avatar

You mean “As” Niki said.
Just joking.

augustlan's avatar

@tiny: There are many types of intelligence…for instance I would never be called a computer expert, or a rocket scientist. I don’t discount someone’s intelligence because they can’t spell well, or break a grammar rule. That said, I do question the seriousness of a post such as the one Gail mentioned, above. Know your audience. In instant messaging and the like, it’s fine. Here, not so much :)

tinyfaery's avatar

I’m not talking about the text speak. I’ve seen people railed on for simply spelling a word wrong, or forgetting an apostrophe. One little error and the whole question is discounted.

Come on, you know who you are.

Anyway, I’m not looking to defend my opinion, it is just my opinion after all.

nikipedia's avatar

I once tried to defend txtspk but was eventually worn down by the overwhelming opposition (I still think I’m right).

It sounds like we’ve divided this problem into two groups:

(1) People who don’t know how to spell and use grammar correctly
(2) People who know how and choose not to

I have yet to see anyone on the internet attempt to differentiate between these two groups, when I think we all are at least somewhat sympathetic to (1). And in the case of (2), I maintain: why does it matter? What is grammar other than a particular style of writing that is deemed to be acceptable to people who make rules about what’s acceptable?

Sure, if we all abandoned grammar altogether we would stop making sense, but I don’t get the impression we’re running that risk, and that opens up a new conversation about how much of grammar is learned and how much of it is innate. Which is a new thread entirely. (See how I used a sentence fragment as a stylistic technique?)

BarbieM's avatar

@AstroChuck Your own examples said that if the preposition is awkward or unnecessary at the end you should leave it off. I agree it’s okay to end with a preposition in a sentence that would be unnecessarily stilted otherwise. I just said in formal writing (ie: thesis, essay, etc.) it’s a good idea to avoid it. A podcast like your example isn’t necessarily formal communication.

AstroChuck's avatar

Show me in an English book on grammar anywhere it states that you can’t end a sentence in a preposition. You won’t find it. Why? Because English is not Latin. Just because someone a century and a half ago got confused between proper English and proper Latin grammar doesn’t change anything.

eambos's avatar

@AC You’re a former English teacher, correct?

I’ve got your back.

BarbieM's avatar

I;m not talking about grammar instruction. I’m talking about writing instruction. They are two different things. I’m am also an English teacher – AP, College dual credit.

gailcalled's avatar

AC’s question is understandable but raises an interesting point. Should each of us have the freedom to write the way we choose? Would you like books, newspapers, academic texts and other writing where clarity is necessary for content, to be written in a random, solipsistic way?

And what about languages used for computer programming? I know very little about those but understand that there is a strict adherence to protocol necessary. What if you changed a semi-colon to a colon? Big deal? Or not?

MacBean's avatar

I’m generally of the opinion that as long as people can get their point across adequately, they should be allowed to communicate as they choose. However, if you know proper spelling and grammar, I think it’s just polite and respectful to use it. WeN u TyPe LiEk DiS, iTs RiLlY nOt DaT eZ 4 oThErZ 2 tRnSl8.

Edited to add: It took me longer to write that last sentence than it took to write the whole rest of the post. If you know proper spelling and grammar, isn’t it also just easier to use it?

andrew's avatar

@tinyfaery: I hear you about discounting, but I think that’s mostly about the collective’s ease of getting derailed. (Not even the collective, the whole internet).

andrew's avatar

@gailcalled: I’m totally in agreement w/ astrochuck regarding the prepositions. It’s perfectly valid to discredit a convention—that’s a far cry from an anarchy of expression. In fact, rigidity borders on grammatical fundamentalism.

I’ve stopped correcting people that the proper pronunciation of err rhymes with spur and that forte is a one-syllable word when you’re not talking about music: that was more about my feeling of superiority and didacticism.

Which isn’t to say that we can’t explore different ways of expressing ourselves. I, for one, am completely and totally in love with LOLspeak. I think it’s the neatest thing.

gailcalled's avatar

@Andrew; I agree with him too. (DId I say that I didn’t?) I have always loved Churchill’s parody on that.

And what’s the deal on programming languages.? Precision and exactness, or flexibily and leeway? I never correct people’s pronunciation, myself and I am trying to think of a sentence ending in a preposition that isn’t completely stilted. No luck, so far.

gailcalled's avatar

@Andrew; Someone just wrote “real eyesing.” Of course I understood that, but still. I like the pictures on LOLspeak but get really tired of interpreting the text. My real eyes ache.

jasonjackson's avatar

@gailcalled: programming languages are unfailingly exacting when it comes to syntax. There is no flexibility or leeway “grammatically”.

So programmers must be precise. The habit of being precise tends to carry over into regular language, so programming does tend to habituate one to speak and write those precisely, too. I think that’s one reason you’ll more often see spelling/grammar corrections on tech-related message boards than elsewhere – the participants have been “trained” to take care with each word. That, and programmers in general tend to be pedantic bastards. ;-)

My personal take on the overall question is that as long as you have made yourself understood, you have successfully used language; however, just as wearing sloppy clothes or failing to bathe will have an effect on other people’s perception of you, using language sloppily or incorrectly will change the way you’re perceived by your peers. If you don’t want people to think you’re poorly-educated or verbally sloppy, you should use language well, not merely successfully.

There’s a converse, too, though: if you’re speaking with, say, a group of inner-city kids, you can come off as stilted, clueless, or generally just “old and white” if you’re “too correct” for your audience. Just as the “appropriate” mode of dress varies by context (you wouldn’t wear the same thing on a beach visit as you would on a trip to church, for instance), it’s often best to vary your use of language by context, too.

tinyfaery's avatar

Yikes! Inner-city kids = do not speak “correct” English? Thank you for proving my point about elitism. You can scroll up to read it.

Knotmyday's avatar

Maybe there should be more of emphasis on teaching inner-city kids to speak and write correctly than on emulating their mistakes (in “context,” of course). :^I

jasonjackson's avatar

@tinyfaery: “too correct” was in quotes for a reason. :)

The point, though, is merely that how you speak (or write) will affect how people think of you; for best results, you should tailor your use of language to your audience. I used talking with inner-city kids as an example first because I’ve experienced it, and second because it highlights that sometimes, ignoring the traditional rules of usage/grammar can be the best approach, in terms of expressing yourself well to a particular set of people.

Knotmyday's avatar

Edit: ”an emphasis…” chagrin

morphail's avatar

There has never been a golden age where everyone spelled “correctly”. Before the 18th century writers spelled however they liked – and yet some of our best literature was written during that period. English doesn’t have spelling rules, it has spelling trends. The trends are well-established and usually followed, but they can change. Also, text-messaging-style abbreviations are nothing new. Roman stone inscriptions are heavily abbreviated.

The Oxford Companion to the English Language says “it appears from the evidence that there was never a golden age in which the rules for the use of the possessive apostrophe in English were clear-cut and known, understood, and followed by most educated people.”

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