Sunday, August 17, 2008

Words fail me.

I spent a few minutes this morning cleaning out the "sent messages" folder in one of my email programs. I still tend to look at such things as taking up physical space, so why save them after they've done -- or not done -- their job?

In the midst of this little exercise, I noted that a message sent to a friend had what I consider a pretty glaring typo in it. Only the occasional inept turn of phrase or badly expressed/inappropriate sentiment bugs me more.

What's worse is that the recipient is the kind of person who will notice. Not that I expect to hear about it; it'll just be another minus score on my Literacy Quotient.

I can explain, teacher:

I was tired when I wrote it;

Since the addition of one letter turned the word I wanted to use into another word, it wasn't caught by my spell checker;

I'm a crappy typist.


Naturally, this person knows I am a fairly decent editor and has indeed made use of my editorial assistance a time or two. Said writing efforts were damn near flawless in my view, so I made very few changes and suggestions.

And now, more evidence that I clearly need an editor 24/7 to watch over my own writing. Yes, even when it comes to things like emails.

There's a good reason no one sees my raw writing, at least before I've had a chance to read it over and smooth out the bumps, and this is it. I don't spend much time refining sentences and stitching up paragraphs. No, I look for the basics: actually typing the words I intended to use, proper English, and all that stuff teachers tried to beat into my head in primary school.

I was actually better about this in the days before spell-checkers and other computer-generated aids to literacy. I would print out everything I wrote before sending it off, attack it line-by-line and word-by-word, penciling in corrections and changes.

Now I just read it on the screen.

I may have to go back to the old ways. I see increasing evidence that even other "professional" writers have lost their edge when it comes to spelling, word usage and grammar, and I have a bad habit of being very critical about such basic flaws.

When society gets to the point where all communication is done via the electronic equivalent of grunts and gestures -- that is to say: strange acronyms, short words badly spelled and click-the-icon instant questions, answers and concepts -- I want to be the last dinosaur standing, the last holdout for proper English.

And I'm losin' it.

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

If you're "losin' it", the rest of the world has already "lost it". It won't take but a few seconds to call roll in the honors class you're in. :)

S

Birdie said...

sometimes I read a letter I've written in the office three times and still don't see the mistake... until it's too late. Of course, that's the type of think the "jerk" & co like to jump at :-(

joan said...

We are so "instant" these days it is easy to click "send" or "publish". I often go back and correct and edit journal entries. If you are the first one to read them you have to suffer all my typos.

Wizardress said...

I believe we all have to go back and recheck things, and in my case, sometimes check and recheck.

*hugs* Hope you are having a great Sunday!

Karen said...

Is there a space next to you available in line?

MrScribbler said...

Karen -- Welcome to "the line!"

DAL said...

For comments and such, I do a cursory look over, but I don't worry about it much. For my own blog, I usually catch the errors, but occasionally have to go back in after I've posted.

I misspelled "comments" above, and had to correct it :-)

Anonymous said...

I'm a horrible proof-reader. I like to think I do well, but I usually see mistakes later. Sometimes I think we are too rushed.

Gill

Anonymous said...

Sometimes I despair when I see homonym errors in such places as Associated Press, Herald Tribune International and yes, even the NY Times.

MrScribbler said...

Anon -- Homonyms don't bother me as much as misuse of words that sound the same but are not spelled the same and mean different things!

Did I just write that? Say it isn't so....

betty said...

Sometimes I look at what I type and the typos are all over the place. I used to be really worried about that but now I just correct what I see and go on. It seems trivial these days. I'm not a professional writer so I'm not supposed to be perfect, I guess. :)

benb said...

I've "gotten" LOL!~pretty loose with my journal in the last year or so in writing more junk words and not so much proper english. I re-read what I've written, smile at my occasional abandonment of that of which I learned in grammar school, and post it anyway : ) Perhaps that doesn't bode so well when it's someone you are dealing with on a professional level. A while back, I was having an email exchange with the general manager, who eventually came back with this comment: "Were you an English teacher at some point in your life?". Yes, I can be hyper-correct, that stuff was beaten into my brains long ago - but on a blog? Who cares? !!!!

MrScribbler said...

Ben -- if you were being paid to write, you'd probably be more concerned!

Besides, there are people who actually admit they think I'm a good writer -- including the one to whom the email-with-typo was sent! -- and I'd hate to disappoint them.

OneFullHouse said...

I agree whole heartedly with what you said, but here's the thing...if you're gonna be so stric about it, why the title "I wouldn't read this if I was me"... proper english would have it say "I wouldn't read this if I WERE me"...conditional sense and all that.

I'm just sayin' :-)