Proper Spelling and Grammar is a Dying Art

Proper Spelling and Grammar is a Dying Art

For this article I wanted to do something different from what I’ve done in the past; I wanted to write an article that people would actually want to read. Rather than simply talking about things I like or don’t like, or mentioning crap about my life no one actually gives two shits about, I wanted to write about something that matters: The death of the English language (at least in written form).

For a few years I’ve thought that one of the funniest things to say about Twitter was, “Twitter: Making people typ lik dis since 2006.” It’s funny because Twitter limits how many characters (letters, spaces, punctuation marks, etc.) you can use per post to only 140. They did this because, at the time, cell phones worked off of CDMA  networks which only allowed a text message to be 140 characters “per page”. That was back in 2006. In the year 2015 you can basically send an entire novel in a single page of text, yet Twitter remains at the 140 character blockage. They’re one of the reasons people no longer write like they should.

Whenever I see someone purposely (or accidentally) misspell several words, or misuse punctuation, or anything of the like and use the excuse, “This is Facebook [or anything Internet-related], not an essay, I don’t have to spell properly.” I shudder. Then I go cry in the corner for about an hour and a half. Regardless of whether you’re on Facebook or Twitter or Reddit or wherever, spelling and proper sentence structures are important.

Now I’m not going to criticise anyone who didn’t learn English as their first language. If English is your second or third language, I understand that it can be very difficult to grasp, especially in writing. When you’re speaking you don’t have to remember all of these rules and exceptions to the rules. It doesn’t matter if it’s “than” or “then”, “affect” or “effect”, or, most commonly misspelled, “your” and “you’re” if you’re speaking. When you’re writing, that’s a whole (not hole) different story.

There are about a thousand rules and even more exceptions to those rules. “I before E except after C”, except in words like neighbour, weigh, weird, science, etc. The prefix “Re-” means to do again like “remind” (because you minded them once, now you have to remind), “reiterate” (this one actually kind of works because “iterate” does mean to say something again and again and again. So at what point does it stop being iterate and become reiterate?), “rewind” (because you winded once?), “repeat”, “rematch” (which actually makes sense with the prefix “re-“). The prefix “Be-” can either mean to gain something (befriend) or lose something (behead).

My dad and I always have a lot of fun coming up with rules like these and finding as many exceptions to those rules as possible. We have fun doing that because we understand these rules and exceptions. Someone who’s trying to learn English later in life is going to have a lot of trouble with this. Which is why this article isn’t about them. It’s about the people who were born and raised on English, yet still fail to grasp how to form a cohesive sentence.

I would also like to point out that the occasional spelling mistake is fine; everybody makes mistakes. It’s when those mistakes are never corrected – worse when they’re repeated – or when they honestly don’t know the difference between “then” and “than”, “your” and “you’re” or when to put a period, that I have to stop and wonder where society has gone wrong.

It shouldn’t matter if you’re writing an essay or posting a picture of your cat with a funny caption, you should always use proper spelling and grammar. Do you think I’m going to laugh at your funny caption if I can’t even comprehend what you’re trying to say? No I will not.

One of the things that happened that made me decide I had to write this post came from one of my girlfriend’s schoolwork partners. She’s in college and in one of her classes they were put into groups. Now there’s this one guy in the group whose spelling, lack of punctuation and (worst of all) lack of paragraph forming was simply atrocious to look at, read and edit. He was going to hand in what he had written, but decided to get somebody else to read it first, saying that they could edit it however they liked. We almost had to rewrite (look, another word that’s uses the “Re-” prefix correctly) the entire piece, and I’m not even in the class.

She opened it up at my house and it was one long, poorly written paragraph. Most of the sentences were run-on sentences and very little of it made any sense. Now, when he sends messages through WhatsApp, he writes “should” as “shud” (or “shuld”, I can’t remember), “you” as “u” and “I’m an idiot” as “Im smrt”. So it wasn’t really a shock that his work was so poorly received by me and my girlfriend, but the fact that it was all one paragraph was hideous.

He can’t even use the excuse that it’s the Internet and it doesn’t matter. This was schoolwork, something that was going to be graded (not just for him but for the whole group); it mattered. It mattered a lot. The problem is that English is his first and only language. Yet he has no idea how to write. I’m not saying everybody is going to be a fantastic writer, but you learn about punctuation, paragraphs and how to form a proper sentence in elementary school, when you’re in college to go into business management, you should have a better handle on things.

Another thing that bothers me is when Canadians don’t spell like Canadians. I’m not saying that they need to put an S in place of a Z, like I did with “criticise” earlier in this post as that’s a British way of doing things. I prefer doing that because I think S’s look better than Z’s, but again that’s just my preference. Though not every word that has a Z gets replaced with an S, like seize, lazy and prize (though surprise does). What’s not my preference, but the way Canadians should be writing, is by inserting a U into certain words, like “colour”, “neighbour” and “humour”. Interestingly enough, “humorous” is never spelled with a U, even in Canadian English.

So what does all of this mean? This has just become petty rambling from a disheartened wannabe writer, with no cohesive storytelling whatsoever. Well I’m not done yet, so just keep reading.

There’s a person that I work with who wrote a book. A short book, but a book nonetheless. English is her third language, so naturally there are many spelling, grammatical and syntax errors. She paid $1000 for an editor to edit her book. Then she didn’t take any of the corrections the editor gave her. She hated the editor. She felt that the editor ruined the flow of her book. She thought the editor was a hack despite what I and one of my co-workers told her. We got to see what the editor did and thought that she did an amazing job editing the book. She earned her thousand dollars.

No matter what we said, though, she wouldn’t take any of the edits and then went along and paid to have it self-published. It cost her about twenty dollars a book, and now when you read it every page has horrible mistakes on it. “Good buy” instead of “Goodbye”, and apparently she wrote in her accent as well, saying “vont” instead of “want”. I’m not making this up, and I know that I said I wasn’t going to rag on people who didn’t grow up knowing English, but this is a special exception. She’s well aware that English isn’t her first language and that she has spelling mistakes; I mean, she hired an editor after all. But when you’re aware of this and choose to go ahead and publish your book anyway, even with all of these mistakes, that’s when I stop caring that English is your third language and just have to shake my head.

But that’s probably getting to be enough rambling, so let me wrap this up.

There are so many people out there who speak English fluently, yet they haven’t learned how to spell or write a proper sentence. I know that there are many rules and even more exception to those rules, but when it’s your first (and only) language, you should have learned these rules and exceptions as a kid. That’s what school is for, to teach you. When you use the excuse that “it’s the Internet so who cares?” you’re just allowing laziness to prevail. And anyone who allows improper spelling and grammar to exist without correcting it when you know it should be corrected is just abetting the person to keep making those mistakes, probably in the fear of being called a “grammar Nazi” even though most of the time it has nothing to do with grammar and everything to do with spelling. (For more information on the difference between spelling and grammar, I recommend this post and this post [despite a few errors that I noticed].)

But that about ends things with me and this post. I hope you enjoyed the time we spent together, and I hope you learned a thing or two and maybe, just maybe we can save this precious dying art from going extinct.

What do you think? Do you agree that more people need to learn how to spell and write properly or do you think I should stop my whining? Let me know in the comments below. If you liked the post, feel free to click that “Like” button and share this post with your friends and family…and doctor and neighbour and pet. Don’t forget to follow this blog to stay up-to-date on my latest ramblings.

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