Pet Peeves

What’s happening to writing these days? I mean, the use of words and grammar and sentence structure, etc., to express one’s thoughts…

I can’t tell you how many times, while I am reading online things like blogs, news articles, web sites, etc., the writers seem to know absolutely NOTHING about rules of writing. Either that or they are intentionally ignoring them, and I’m assuming if that were so, it would be purely for ease of putting on paper/screen the thoughts coming from their brains – ease – not work.

It started out that it was the occasional web page that I’d read where all the words were clumped together with no capitalization, no punctuation, no periods – nothing. It wasn’t as bad as the current “texting” which is even worse with the use of singular letters standing for whole words, but still, it is disconcerting, at best, for people who learned and who employ the rules of our language, and it’s beginning to drive me nuts.

At first I thought it was just a few people who weren’t sure how to put together a proper sentence. In fact, it goes back a long way with me with the general improper use of words, i.e. pronouns (“I” and “me” to be precise). I’ve gone into this before so I won’t overly belabor it now, but people, can we please learn a few grammar rules? The word “I” is a subject and the word “me” is an object. You should never say something like:

“Me and Mary talked on the phone today for hours.”

or:

“That gift was really a gift for he and I, not you.”

You really think that’s correct?

My rule in these cases is to take out the other person (in this case, the “he” which is not correct) and let just the first person pronoun stand alone in the sentence.

So that would be “That gift was really a gift for I, not you.”

Does that sound right to anyone? Of course not. It should be “me” in that instance as “me” is the object of the word “for.” For “me” not for “I”. Simple.

But that isn’t what got me started on this. It is the now increasingly popular habit of typing sentences without stopping for periods, commas, any punctuation whatsoever, capital letters, etc. All the words are just typed onto the screen, one after the other, or it may be that the author is using voice recognition, and, therefore, it may be the fault of the program, but there is such a thing as editing!

I realize this stance won’t win me any friends except maybe those writers who get it and for whom it is a serious problem, as well. I also realize I am not perfect, that I make spelling errors occasionally, and maybe even commit the odd grammatical faux pas, like ending a sentence with a preposition, but I do try. I really try to get it right, the way it was taught to me all those years ago in school.

I could join the crowd, I suppose. OK. I will for a bit.

i could simply conveniently forget all the lessons i spent hours learning in a classroom back in my formative years and just spit out the words as they come rolling off my fingers onto this screen but it sure is a lot harder to decipher this way when there is no sentence structure and the reader doenst know when to stop breathe and go on or when to raise his or her eyebrows (!) after a thought or word and just never can get the full meaning of the writers intent

or even worse:

sohowwoulditbeifweallforgotaboutthespacebartoo (breathe…) andjusttypedthewordsoutlikethisallina (breathe here) linesothereaderreallyhastoworktofigureout(take one last breath)whattheheckwearesaying

Wasn’t that fun?

No. My point exactly.

I also realize that sometimes we have to use abbreviations for things online, such as in my paragraph on the left-hand column of this blog under the photo of Crow cottage. I typed “Take 1 retired amanuensis, stir in 1 lobsterman…”, and I totally know that you should not use numerals one through nine like that in a sentence. The ONLY reason I did that was because JournalScape only gave me a defined number of characters to use in that little descriptive paragraph, and if I had typed out the words “one” in both instances, which would have been correct, I would have gone over the limit. I get that.

I think you know what I’m talking about here as you have probably run into these cases, as well.

I think it may be too late now to go backward in this department. Everyone is typing in shorthand now, and English grammar seems to be stumbling along in the gutter these days with little sign of any improvement. Let me say here and now that those of you who take care with your written words and sentences are applauded by this writer wholeheartedly. You know who you are.

This may fall on deaf ears, but I just needed to get it off my chest for some reason this morning.

Cheers for our English language, and long may it live,

Bex

“What we ardently love, we learn to imitate.”

~ R. Waldo Emerson ~

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14 Responses to Pet Peeves

  1. mz. em says:

    Hi Bex. I agree with you completely. With all the new gadgets out, the amount of space they give you to say what you have to say, it’s no wonder our younger generations have no idea of good language. I know I make a mistake or two but I attempt to be a good writer. Plus, I like writing snail mail.

    Like

  2. TopsyTurvy says:

    My stepdaughter has been taught cursive writing in school, thank goodness. And we encourage her to practice so that she ends up with a nice “hand”.

    Cursive writing is becoming an art, apparently. Makes me wonder how they’ll differentiate signatures some day, when everyone is just sitting there and printing their thoughts and their name.

    One thing to be said of cursive, though. You can write much faster with cursive than you can with printing.

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  3. Heh! You’re a woman after my own heart, Bex! I appreciated that “dragon” who taught me grammar after I got out in the world and discovered that I had the tools for any writing task.

    Yes, Neva, many folks under 40 can’t write cursive and even have trouble reading it.

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  4. TS says:

    Go gettum, Bex! Long live the king’s English!

    Like

  5. Joan says:

    I am also fascinated by some of the correspondence that is entered into our employees’ files at work. Where did these people go to school????

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  6. sue says:

    Prior to Katrina, I was teaching (history) at a couple of local universities. On the whole, the writing skills of the students were pretty good. Granted, most of my exams were multiple guess or short answer, but the students understood the importance of presenting their thoughts in a way that many others would understand.

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  7. Neva Williams says:

    In addition, as far as actual handwriting goes, they are deciding that teaching cursive is no longer necessary.

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  8. Beanie says:

    Me agree! Ha!

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  9. Bex says:

    Grrrrunt…. oh save us all!

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  10. Ericmayer says:

    Although I’m not particularly good at grammar (I am a sucker for commas and parens…) and a pretty bad speller (see “parens” above…). I agree with your general point. Expressing yourself incoherently isn’t democratic, it’s just…well…incoherent. I despise Twitter for the way it encourages people to write like infants. I understand the next big Internet communication fad will be Grunt.

    Like

  11. TopsyTurvy says:

    I hear you, Bex, and I agree. Most of the time I also try to do my best with my grammar and punctuation. Once in a while I will let things slip, though. I do let myself have a lazy day, sometimes.

    Still, some things do get to me. One of my true pet peeves is that I HATE it when people do till instead of ’til (short for until). Sadly, it looks like that is now becoming accepted. 😦

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  12. Betty Lou says:

    AMEN to your Blog! Also, with regard to the texting, I wonder if those who do it so much will remember how to spell real words correctly, or if they even care.

    Like

  13. Rhubarb says:

    I regularly write book reviews on Amazon, and quite often I’ve downgraded a book for poor writing/editing skills. My comments include criticism of grammar, spelling, and use of words (especially homonyms and words plucked from a thesaurus). I have been excoriated by other commenters for being “school teacher” or “prissy” or similar things. I should give them a break, they say, and just read for the story.

    You can imagine my response.

    We’ve come a long way. Latin was originally written without breaks between words, without capitals or punctuation. It took a skilled eye to decipher the written word. We seem to be on a road to a major shift in writing, and I, for one, am not happy with it.

    Like

  14. l'empress says:

    I know; I understand; I agree. My knowledge of English spelling and grammar was my stock in trade, no matter where I was working. No one cares now. You can’t sell employers something they don’t know they need.

    I hope you have read Eats, Shoots & Leaves, which talks to those of us who remember.

    Like

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