Sunday, September 07, 2008

Spelling and Grammar

(Once again, as it happens when I write or speak on topics that I am passionate about, there is some amount of profanity contained herein. Before some Constant Reader comments with a gem like "Profanity is the common crutch of the conversational cripple." let me first quote one of my favorite authors -Mark Twain- saying "Under certain circumstances, profanity provides a relief denied even to prayer." then follow up by saying "Kiss my fuzzy white ass." If you can't stand a four-lettered word or two, GTFO. I suggest here.)

All the emotional cripples and old ladies gone? Good. Off we go.

I am so sick of seeing misspellings in public documents (to say nothing of in newspaper articles). And for those who would substitute the stupidity of “alternative spelling”, allow me to castigate them as fucking morons.

I don’t mind the occasional misstep, especially in a live format like blogs or comments thereto. I am especially guilty of this, particularly when I'm posting from my Blackberry.
What I detest is repetitive misspelling— because to me, that indicates a drift towards illiteracy. And I don’t excuse “their” for “there” (and vice-versa), “your” for “you’re” (ditto), or any of the onomatopoeic blunders which bedevil the English language.

I react especially badly when people refuse to use basic spellchecking software when they have it available. (Hey- Marketing Department, Are you listening?)

Words are important. Spelling is important: it’s a basic tenet of communication that the people doing the communicating have a common method of discourse—did I say “basic tenet”? I meant axiomatic.

Spelling is the first building block—some would say the foundation—of shared language. To litter the place with “alternatives” at best slows the communication process down (like trying to decipher ”cn i haz yr tlno?”), and at worst it undermines the language itself.

And don’t give me that shit about how English is a “fluid” language or any of that jive. I have no problem with introducing a new word to the English language, especially when an equivalent is non-existent; but if a perfectly decent descriptive word already exists, why clutter the language with a bunch of “near-spellings” which serve only to confuse, and thus render the lazy man the same the respect of the diligent man who makes a sincere effort at proper spelling and grammar?

Let me lay a few of my least-favorite examples on you...

You’re = you are. As in "You’re a shithead." or "You’re gonna die!"
Your = possessive term. As in "This is your brain on drugs." or "That is your coffin. Best just climb in now and save me the trouble."
Yore = past, history. As in "Days of yore."

There = description of location. As in "It is over there." or "There it is."
They’re = they are. As in "They’re not here." or "They’re not yours."
Their = possessive term. As in "That is their house." or "This is their problem…"

Too = also, as well. As in "Me too!" Also used as a descriptive term off something excessive. As in "This is too much." or "I will too do this!"
To = descriptive of direction "Went to the store." Also if it’s regarding anything tangible "An answer to a letter."
Two = (Numeric) 2

Advice = the noun. As in "Anyone have any advice?." or "I need your advice."
Advise = the verb. "To advise". As in "I want you to advise me." or "I must advise you..."

New = recent, not old. "He bought a new TV because his old one took a hit by lightning."
Knew = past tense of "know". As in "She knew there was trouble when she heard shots fired."

Quit = to stop, to desist. As in "He wants to quit smoking."
Quite = really, actually. As in "I am quite sure about this." Can also mean to a high degree, as in "It's quite good."
Quiet = silent. As in "Please be quiet, I'm trying to think."

It’s = it is. As in "It’s a crying shame that the game was canceled." Also used for it has, as in "It’s rained every day this week."
Its = possessive term. As in "The newspaper retracted its statements."

Sight = vision. As in "She was quite a sight!" or "I have poor eyesight."
Site = a setting, a place or location. As in "A good site to build." Also short for "website".

I wasn't going to add this one, but I see it so much in chat that I have to put it here.
Sense = logic. As in "That makes sense." Also a "sense" is smell, touch, taste, etc.
Since = continuously. As in "We have been friends since we were children." also a subsequent time, as in "She has since moved out of state." Also can be used as because, as in "Since she never showed up, her understudy took her place."

Witch = one who practices magic. As in "She's a witch! Burn her!"
Which = uh, a lot of things. "Which one?" "He left the scene, which was wise." This is the more commonly used, so when in doubt...

Wait = to remain or stay in expectation. As in "I will wait for more clarification before making a decision."
Weight = measure of heaviness. As in "The weight is five pounds."

Choose = present tense, to make a choice. As in "I choose to have chicken for dinner tonight."
Chose = past tense, to make a choice. "A year ago, I chose to move."

Except = to exclude. As in "I'll buy everything except that." Also to object, as in "I take exception to that statement." Also a term meaning "if not for the fact". As in "I would buy it, except that it's so expensive."
Accept = agreement, consent, something affirmative. As in "I accept your invitation." or "She was accepted to the University."

Effect = something brought about by a cause or agent; a result. Also the power to produce such a change. To wit: "The policy change in the Marketing Department had an immediate effect on the company's bottom line."
Affect = to have an influence on or incite a change in. As in "The cost of new equipment will affect the total price of the contract."

Here = location. As in "You are here."
Hear = what you do with your ears. As in "Hope to hear from you soon."

Threw = past tense of "throw". As in "I threw my notebook across the room."
Through = from beginning to end. As in "He walked through the door." or "She saw the matter through."
Thorough = complete, painstaking. As in "A thorough search for answers."

Boys = plural form of "boy"
Boy’s = possessive term for one boy as in "That is the boy’s book."
Boys’ = possessive term for multiple boys, as in "This is the boys’ mule; they share it." (Occasionally [and correctly] pronounced "boyses")

Lose = to suffer loss. As in "The insurgents were sure the Coalition would lose the war."
Loose = not tight. As in "Her shoes were loose because they were a size too big."

Hon = short for honey. As in "See you later, hon."
Hun = a barbarous or destructive person; an invader. Attila the Hun.

Let's = let us. As in "Let's get out of here."
Lets = allows or enables. As in "Having a job lets me pay my bills."

Vain = conceited. As in "You’re so vain." Also can be fruitless, as in "We tried in vain."
Vein = what blood runs through. Synonymous with "blood" a lot of the time, as in "The music was in her veins."

Gripe = to complain, complaint. As in "She would gripe about her food." or "He had a gripe about the job."
Grip = to hold tightly. As in "She would grip her gun when she felt threatened."

Illusion = something not real; not a reality. As in "I thought things would work out at my job, but it was just an illusion." or "Someone dying in the desert will often see a mirage or illusion."
Allusion = hint or indirect reference. See below.
Allude = to hint or make indirect reference. As in "The possibility was alluded to, but never directly stated."
Elude = avoid, evade. As in "They were able to elude capture."

Infer = to derive by reasoning. "They inferred his displeasure from his cool tone of voice."
Imply = to indicate or suggest without being explicitly stated. "His words implied a lack of faith."

Alot = not a word. Should be two separate words: "A lot"
Noone = also not a word. Two separate words: "No one"

"In to" should basically always be written as "into".

"ing" words:
When you add "ing" to a word that ends in "e" you need to drop the "e". Hope=Hoping, Make=Making, Take=Taking, Gripe=Griping (whereas grip would be gripping), Fake=Faking, and so on and so forth.

Referring to yourself and others in the same sentence:
Be sure you can take the "others" out and still have the sentence make sense. For example: "Thank you for helping me and the girls." Would be proper because without the others it would read "Thank you for helping me."
You would not say "Thank you for helping the girls and I." because you wouldn’t say "Thank you for helping I."
However, the sentence "The girls and I are going out" would be proper because without the others it would read "I am going out"

Hmmmm... I think this has gone on quite long enough...
No doubt more examples will arise and I will once again tilt at the windmill of egregious misspelling.

Now if I can only stop using ellipses... heh.

TBG out-


TheWrongWay said...

How often do I fight with people with using "me" instead of "I" at the end of a sentence? A lot.

Just ordered AT&T DSL internet this week. "...follow the simple on-screen instructions. You'll he online in no time."

You'll he... awesome. In no time? Took me a few hours on the phone. Not only are the instructions grammatically poo-poo, they were also incomplete.

Bug said...

For more examples of misspellings and poor grammar, see any USA Today. I'm always amazed at how poorly their articles are written considering the author presumably took many courses in English, and is likely using a word processor that could help...and wouldn't it be the editors' job to catch such things?

oh wow...that was close...I looked over what I had just written and lo and behold, I had typed "grammer" which even this blogging editor has the technology to flag. Maybe USA Today should stop using Notepad.

Anonymous said...

The Marketing Department is listening! But you forgot affect and effect...

The Big Guy said...

Dear Marketing:
Good catch. Corrected and noted, with my thanks!