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.


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. :)


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.


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' :-)