12.29.2010

dis iz srs bzns gaiz


I don't know about you, but I actually cringed while writing that title.

But before I get into that—digression! Because first off, I wanted to thank everyone, especially Frea and the rest of the CIA, for all of the birthday wishes. I kept telling Frea not to do anything, it wasn't a big deal, turning 20 wasn't special, blah blah blah...she ignored me, of course. I'm not surprised, since I did the exact same thing when it was her birthday. Yep, it's a vicious, never-ending cycle. Regardless, I really appreciated it, and I wanted to express that here. So, thank you! You guys helped make my day quite awesome. :)

Anywho. I know that I haven't been around much at all lately; in fact, I'm sure most of you figured I got lost in a cave for the past two months or so. The blame mostly lies in college, but also partly because I'm kind of A.D.D. and, like Frea, tend to get distracted by shiny things and whatnot. (I wish I had the decidedly more effective Frea-like ability to crank out epic chapters and stories every single week, but alas, 'tis not so.) Either way, I've decided that I'm going to try and make more of an effort to at least contribute to the blog a bit more, which in turn will hopefully motivate me to kick myself into gear and get some more Kill Bryce written for you guys. Which sort of brings me to the topic I'd like to discuss now: writing. Or, more specifically, the direction writing seems to be going nowadays. Fair warning, this post may get a bit vent-ish, so if you think you're someone who's easily offended, then now's the time to click that back button or a link to somewhere else.

Still here? Cool. Let's get started, then, shall we?

A few days ago, I was chatting with one of my high school friends on Facebook when she suddenly typed, "i love how u always type perfect grammar on facebook. like capitalization and stuf. i think its amusing." This hadn't been the first time she'd mentioned it to me, either, and she certainly hadn't been the only one. Over the past year, several of my friends and even both my brothers have asked me—most of them with a strange, "what the hell" type of look on their faces—why I always bother to take the time to type and text with proper spelling, capitalizations, and punctuation. Isn't it so much easier, not to mention faster, to just half-ass it and use all of the shortcuts instead?

They're right, of course. It obviously takes less time, effort and characters to type out something like, "omg cnt bleve u g2g work 2mrw!" But man...I don't know about you, but seeing that makes me want to rip my hair out. Yes, I understand that Twitter has a 140 character limit, and that shortcuts are often necessary. Yes, I get that texting was created to be quick, short and simple. Today's society is all about immediacy, after all: we want to communicate, and we want to do it as quickly as we possibly can. 

At what cost, though? True, all of these simplified methods of communication are used mostly for social networking purposes. But what about when the trend starts seeping into the areas where professionalism and the real world truly matter? People can argue all they want about this, but I've seen it too many times to count: horrible misspellings in both online and printed articles; glaring grammatical errors littered throughout academic writings; sentence fragments slapped on here and there; commas and apostrophes thrown everywhere like confetti. I've come across papers written by what are supposed to be some of the best and brightest college students in the nation, and I actually shake my head at the mistakes I find. Most of these errors are things we learned in elementary school, the very basics of sentence structure and grammar foundation. 

What does that say about our society? That people can't distinguish "your" from "you're," add apostrophes to plurals, and naively hope that Spell Check will catch all of their typos and homonym mistakes? In all honesty, I'm seriously worried for my generation and the generations following me. The internet has become such a huge part of our everyday lives, and because of that, it seems like the general acceptance—hell, the encouragement—of incorrect English is heading in that very same direction. If people are so willing to butcher our own written language, then maybe we've never really had that much respect for it in the first place. 


I'm not claiming to be an English expert; trust me, I'm far from it. I can barely read the first fanfiction I wrote way back in 2005, it's so horrendously bad. But the fact is, my ridiculously amateurish story has shown me just how much I've learned after all these years. Even now, I'm still learning—I've probably made several mistakes in this post alone that I'm not even aware of. Maybe you think I'm overanalyzing this, or that I'm being too much of a Grammar Nazi. You wouldn't be the first to think so. But I have too much respect for the English language to cut it down like I've seen so many others do lately. Sure, I admit I'm just as guilty as anyone else in throwing out "lol," "omg," "btw," and numerous other internet abbreviations whenever the social contexts call for it. But there's a time and place for everything, and there's definitely such thing as taking it a little too far. The increasingly blurred line between formal and informal reminds me of that. 

I don't doubt that people will continue to ask me "y i waste time typing n prfct english." I could give a whole plethora of answers, but in the end, I just think it looks better. And you know what? It's completely worth the extra two seconds of effort.

Okie dokie. Rant over. Back to my normal self. :) 

What does everyone else think?

P.S. - In case some of you can't read the title (I won't lie, I can barely read it myself—I actually had to look up the words on noslang.com to make sure I got the "internet-speak" right), it translates to: "This is serious business, guys."

25 comments:

  1. I hate it when I receive messages that has me scratch my head because of all the contractions/abbreviations/etc. It usually takes me longer to process what they want to say. The same goes when I write, that they disrupt my rhythm of thought.

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  2. Anonymous29.12.10

    I share your dismay over the mutilation of the written word nowadays. Nothing makes me cringe more than seeing grammatical and spelling errors in advertisements. Umm, hello? Is your proofreader asleep at their desk? If someone pays good money for ad space, don't make a poor impression on your intended audience by not taking a few minutes to proof the copy.

    Eeep. *My* rant is over. Thanks for the excellent post; if it inspires at least one person to be more careful with their e-communications, it's a "win" for the written word.

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  3. The thing I don't understand is when writers have poor grammar. You know, if you're just using the written word to communicate on Facebook or in an email every once awhile, I can forgive the occasional you're/your or its/it's mixup, that's understandable. But if you're a writer, if you're putting your ideas out there for society to take seriously, grammar has to be one of those tools where you either need to learn it or you need to rely on a really great beta reader who understands it better than you do. It's like being a juggler who can't catch a ball or a race car driver without a license (nice that I'm using realistic professions in my examples, eh?). I mean, it's not everything to a story--word usage and the ability to craft the story itself do help, I'm told--but, honestly, when has it ever hurt to have good grammar? Name me one example.

    There's more to this rant, but I probably shouldn't get into it. Thanks for the awesome post, Crystal.

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  4. Concurrence from this corner. Wait, does that word exist, or did I make it up to sound clever?

    Newys, def agre wit ur rnt. Iz gd.

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  5. Indeed, as stated above, "Thanks for the awesome post, Crystal." I completely and whole-heartedly agree with your post. Now, I won't say that I'm an expert in grammar either (as you'll probably find a slew of grammatical errors in my comment alone) but it does peeve me when someone butchers the English language like we see today. And I'm not speaking of slang here either. I've heard people saying "lol" instead of laughing. "OMG" is used so often, even at my university's campus, that I'm starting to think that they've forgotten what those letters actually stand for.

    I'm sorry, if my comment comes off as a rant as well. It was meant to be an observation. Also, your last graphic is both hilarious and appropriate for your post.

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  6. Anonymous29.12.10

    Your post really makes two points and I'm going to only address the second one, because frankly I agree, l33t speak is stupid and those people should be rounded up and stuffed down the world's largest garbage disposal. (Yeah for tolerance!)

    However, on the second part I think it's important for people to realize that excellent grammar doesn't come as easily to some people as to others.

    When you're talking about someone who writes for pleasure, realize that it doesn't come easily or intuitively to all people. I can strip apart the most complex piece of technology and put it back together in a few minutes. It's easy. Because I understand how most technology works. I get it. Grammar is a much bigger struggle. It just doesn't come naturally. I've made big strides throughout my life to get better, but honestly I still make a lot of mistakes and I think I always will. While I prefer to use a beta when I write, that doesn't mean its always possible to find someone willing to help you out. I don't believe that means you shouldn't bother telling your story, but it does mean you have to make the best effort you can.

    So, when you read something and roll your eyes because someone used the wrong form of too or they used effect when they meant affect, understand that it doesn't make perfect sense to them and doesn't come naturally. At the same time when we walk into your house and see your VCR flashing twelve, we don't make fun of you for having a VCR or for not knowing how to work it.

    That's because what's simple and easy depends on how you think, not necessarily what you know.

    (Please keep in mind that the rant response was not aimed at Crystal in particular, but to all grammar snobs who send reviews that say only. "Hey, you misused a comma in paragraph seventeen!")

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  7. Ayefah29.12.10

    Hey, I don't expect perfect grammar out of everyone - I just appreciate it if the writer of a story put up for public consumption actually seems to care about getting the form right. If you know you're hopeless at these things or just that you can't find every mistake, find a proofreader. It's a lower commitment level than a full-on beta and it helps get your fic out there looking professional. (In the sense that it's polished and done with care for craft; not in the sense that you're being paid for it, obviously.)

    Hell, I've made a living correcting other people's English - if they were all perfect at it where would my savings be? :P

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  8. Yay Crystal! You're my hero!

    I think many of us are coming from the same place here. Some are more tolerant of casual or judiciously placed lol's and omg's, and some less so. But I think we'd prefer it if the originators of these abbreviations were more conscious of the deleterious effects of their use, many of which are mentioned by the above posters.

    As related to Chuck, there are some errors that, a decade before, would have been unthinkable, like the misspelling of Colombia as "Columbia" in episode 2.03 or pluralizing Bartowski as "Bartowski's" in 3.15. While there's no proof, you could make a reasonable case that the degeneration in our society's *caring* about whether the grammar was correct was the root cause in those failures.

    Having said that, I have to add that it's important to be careful when judging other people's casual writing. In the past I've been mortified to find out I was picking on someone's second or third language! Ooops. :)

    Anyway, a belated "Happy Birthday!" to you, Crystal, and thanks for the rant (and for being the incredible bundle of disparate talents you are)!

    Aardvark

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  9. Yay! Thanks for all the feedback, guys. I really appreciate it. :) The last thing I wanted was to get no response and then spend the next week wallowing in the assumed fact that I came off as a snob or something. Bleh.

    Becca: Concurrence is indeed a real word! I looked it up. :D

    Anonymous (the second one!), no worries, I understand where you're coming from. I'm going to agree with Ayefah, though. I'm not the kind of person to roll my eyes at every single mistake I see, because I do realize that some people may struggle with proper grammar and such. What does bother me, however, is when I look at a story and get the feeling that the person who wrote it is either too lazy or just doesn't care about the quality of their work. Whether we like it or not, there are people out there who WILL judge based on grammatical skills. In the case of fanfiction, it's not so much a big deal. Keep in mind, though, that I'm not just talking about creative writing. In fact, creative writing has its own set of rules and whatnot, like plot progression, character building, and dialogue.

    My main argument in my post actually applies more to writing as a whole, as in the foundations that make it what it is. Language, especially the written language, is what we use to communicate. I'm not saying understanding technology isn't important, because obviously in today's society it is. But grammar is absolutely crucial. That's why it's so difficult to grasp. You could be the brightest scientist in the world, but if you don't have the necessary skills to effectively explain your findings, to others you may just been seen as crazy. Out in the professional world? Grammatical mistakes might mean the difference between beating out other candidates for a job opportunity, or admission to top colleges. Competition is getting tougher and tougher by the year, which means ever little thing counts.

    Unfortunately, this entire topic is way too broad and complex to hit every single point; we'd end up spiraling off into today's education system, the media, parental guidance, and a hundred other tangents. My main point I wanted to get across in my post is this: the extra time and effort DOES make a difference. It shows that you want to communicate in a professional and intelligent manner, and that you want to be taken seriously. I think a lot of people nowadays, especially online, have forgotten that. And, sadly, it may just come back to bite them in the ass.

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  10. Whoops. Aardie, I think you commented right before I posted my response. Haha. Thanks for the belated birthday wishes, as well as your input! :)

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  11. This rant is totaly rediculous! Your talking about stuff that nobody cares about! I never spend too long looking over a piece of writing, what's the point? Its just pointless. Every body knows what you mean even when you make mistakes. And I have to things to say about that... Just because there writing isn't perfect, doesn't mean it's definately not worth reading or whatever it is you were saying. And you need to relax, okay?

    lol

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  12. Anonymous29.12.10

    I'm with mxpwd! Grammer is pointeless! Speling is overrated. If yous all understand what I'm say'n then why shood I bother, yo?

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  13. Ayefah29.12.10

    You know, I have a special eyelid twitch just for "rediculous".

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  14. Excuse me, I need to hunt down my head minion, take him out back, and shoot him.

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  15. Oh, wait, I dethroned him as a Head Minion. Let me rephrase: I need to hunt down my Assistant to the Head Minion, and do the aforementioned. Peace!

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  16. I had this conversation yesterday at dinner!

    We have the same problem in French. Between conjugation, grammar, accents, spelling, slang, mixed use of French and English words, and so on, it has just become awful at times.

    As English isn't my first language, this kind of stuff (like the title) are just impossible to understand for me.

    But, I do make a lot of English mistakes...

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  17. As much as I cringed reading some of my freshman comp. Students' papers last semester, to some extent I see 'text speak' and its attendant grammar / spelling not as 'incorrect' per se, but possibly the natural evolution of language. Does anyone here/can anyone here go back and check Shakespeare against current grammatical syntax? The information age is merely speeding up the process, and so what usually takes hundreds of years is only going to take fifty or sixty years. By 2100 'proper english' might qualify as its own language distinct from more colloquial usage, much like old English and modern equivalents are completely unintelligible to each other.
    Am I happy about this? No, but I acknowledge the reality of language drift.

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  18. Anonymous30.12.10

    Ha, someone said colloquial........

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  19. Ayefah30.12.10

    With English, that magpie of languages, there's really no avoiding change. And text speak is fine...in texts. Or if you're making a LOLcat. I don't know if "U" is really going to end up replacing "You", though. There doesn't seem to be much of a point. Hell, with more and more people using auto-complete-type functions in their phones, "U" might become "You" again even in texts. :P

    Maybe at the grand old age of 26 I'm too old to "get it". But I do remember the novelty of IM-speak when I was 10 or so, using it all the time like an adolescent code. Eventually it just wore off, and to this day the excessive use of it just looks to me like you're trying too hard to appear cool to a 14-year-old. And I was never much for teenage exceptionalism, even when I was a teenager.

    I guess I just "get" other forms of language drift more - verbing our nouns and such and making up neologisms doesn't confuse things; it creates new ways of saying them. And I'm actively against certain formal grammatical rules - namely, the stupid, stupid idea that you can't end a sentence with a preposition, which comes from some pedant who thought that English could be made to conform to the rules of Latin. Oh, and split infinitives. Screw 'em. And in anything but a formal paper, I don't care if Veronica Mars is smarter than "me" rather than "I", either.

    There's a difference between that and bad usage that actually confuses meaning to the point where I have to conduct a mental translation back to whatever the sentence was originally meant to say. Or being a ficcer who spells the canon characters' names wrong. There's language drift and then there's "can't be arsed".

    Or maybe I'm still bitter over my days of reading X-Men fic about "Rouge". :P

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  20. Anonymous30.12.10

    Hmm...who is this red character you speak of? What are their mutant powers? Can they blush without being embarrassed? Can they appear aroused without the slightest provocation? Sounds intriguing...

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  21. Ayefah: you're probably right, and you used neologism properly in a sentence which is worth bonus points. We don't have the necessary foresight to predict the ways language drift will change the way we communicate. I doubt anyone in the 'gay' 1890s ever thought they might be misconstrued as the homosexual 1890s. And that's my point, really. Similarly, standardized spellings in English are a fairly new phenomon perpetuated by Webster's dictionary, and the gulf between what is acceptable spoken and written English is growing. I see texting as more akin to speech than formal grammatical writing, and so some things, like prepositions at the ends of sentences are less objectionable.
    I agree, though, if meaning is impaired by the texting jargon it's utility is limited at best and probably won't be widely adapted into potential 'future english'.
    Just thought the discussion could use a devil's advocate.

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  22. Ayefah30.12.10

    The best devil's advocate I've heard for language drift is Stephen Fry, most eloquently in this interview.

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  23. Anonymous30.12.10

    Writers, a problem, agreed. But the most frightening of all are people you knew in school who are now teachers who write everything in abbreviated monstrosities.

    I fear what the next generation are being taught in schools when even the teachers are incapable of correct spelling, grammar and punctuation.

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  24. Ayefah, you rock. You basically touched all the important points I didn't go far enough to cover in my post. Haha. Also, Stephen Fry is awesome. I had no idea "meld" wasn't a word!! Genius.

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  25. OK, this is close enough to a subject that I feel the need to publicly rant on.

    My 14 year old daughter had gone a few weeks without any homework. At first, I attributed it to my daughters above average intelligence and superb work ethic as the cause of this. (Yes, I am biased)

    When I finally asked her why she had not brought home any homework, she told me most of the teachers DO NOT GIVE HOMEWORK ASSIGNMENTS.
    I could not believe that. How were students supposed to prepare for college if the teachers are not giving out homework.

    I know it has been a while, but I am pretty sure college professors still give out homework,
    So I asked a friend of mine who happens to be a teacher about this. She told me "If you give out homework, most do not do it. When you give them failing grades, you are called on the carpet on it.

    So if students are not using proper grammar it is because the system rewards mediocrity, and ignores excellence.

    I could give a ^%$^ less if some no drive idiot gets left behind. If we keep this crap up we will not even hit mediocrity.

    Sorry rant over.

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