Friday Confessional: I judge your writing (and I’m not the only one)

I’m not a Grammar Cop, but I would like to make a few citizens arrests. Or a lot of them. I’d also settle for beating a few of the offenders with a blackjack, but that’s probably illegal and perhaps just a little bit of an overkill.

Everyone makes a typo here and there. It happens. Heck, I’ve made several just typing the draft of this blog! The autocorrect feature on mobile devices is so…um, fabulous…that it practically has its own cult following. There are also people out there with learning disabilities, but most of the people I know who have them write far better than these folks.

Okay, you Grammar Nazis, I know you have very strong feelings about spelling and grammar. I know that I am an offender, but there are such things as misdemeanors and felonies and I like to think that I stick to the misdemeanor end of the spectrum. (It’s ok, you don’t need to show me why I’m wrong.)

There are two major groups of writing felons who drive me batty:
1) those who decide that every. single. word. that ends in “s” needs an apostrophe
2) the txt typers who use no capitals OR ONLY CAPITALS n no punctuation spll porely n have long rambling rants filled w numb3rs n talk about things dat no 1 can understand but da exple+!ve$ r splled right n omg i have 2 go bang my head against the door now!! Oh, and then they end with, “no wut ahm sayin?” No, actually I don’t have the slightest clue what on earth you’re saying and I’m not sure you do, either.

I really try to avoid reading the comments on sites like YouTube, but I sometimes go temporarily insane and start reading them before I realize just what I’ve done. YouTube must be for the grammar thugs what Satriale’s Pork Store was for Tony Soprano and his crew, only there are millions more of them! Most YouTube offenders fall into the second group described above, which may be good — if I can’t understand them, I can’t be outraged by whatever idiotic statement they’ve made. I will, however, still talk out loud to myself and make fun of them to keep from crying.

Maybe I shouldn’t judge. Judging is bad, right? The Level 5s judge people like it’s going out of style and I don’t want to be one of them. After all, we can’t all win the spelling bee…however there is spellcheck to help with that. And who knows, maybe a significant number of keyboards are now being sold without the shift or punctuation keys? Or maybe the Surgeon General has issued a warning against switching to the punctuation keyboard screen on iPhones because people’s thumbs were falling off and I just haven’t heard about it? Or maybe people are just being lazy.

Granted, sometimes people are just in a hurry. One of my coworkers, “Judy,” has evidently been in a huge hurry every day for almost ten years, because her emails are consistently so nonsensical that a couple of us have made a little competition out of being first to decode them! (Okay, yeah, that’s probably a little catty.) There’s being in a hurry, and then there’s wasting a lot more of everyone’s time because you didn’t pay enough attention to what you wrote the first time around. We end up going through this ridiculous back-and-forth dialog via email just trying to determine what she wanted in the first place. It takes a while because “Judy,” again, is not paying attention to what she types and the rest of us end up poking fun at her behind her back (which is also probably a little catty).

Like it or not, fair or not, people will judge you by your writing whether friend, stranger, or potential employer. Most of us haven’t been in an English class in so long that we won’t care (or notice) if you leave a participle dangling. We will forgive the occasional misspelled word. However, we have a much harder time forgiving your writing faux pas if it resembles something spray painted on an overpass.

So tell me…are my coworkers and I being really “catty” when we make fun of “Judy’s” nonsensical emails? Is it “catty” when the self-described Grammar Nazis actually call us out on our mistakes (without being asked) or are they just helping us save face?




2 responses to “Friday Confessional: I judge your writing (and I’m not the only one)

  1. i think improper grammar in the office environment is a VERY clear indication of education level. and a sorry level it usually is (and i don’t mean “oooh, you didn’t go to college”, i mean “you stopped paying attention when they hit contractions, didn’t you?”
    People sometimes harangue me when i correct other people’s grammar, but hey, people, this is the language we use to communicate. shouldn’t we LITERALLY all be on the same page, language wise?
    and yes, on the internet, it is a grammar nazi’s paradise … i find that if i see several posts that meander and float around with incomplete sentences, dangling participles and “what the hell was that i just read”, i usually don’t read that person’s posts. if they can’t communicate at least at the basic level, how can they have anything important to say?
    so, i guess i’m guilty of being catty …
    get me a collar, i’ll go catch a mouse.

  2. Ok. I have to share a rant on this one.
    I used to work in an office, where some of the people had trouble writing for various reasons, but everyone made significantly more than I did. It really drove me batty when they would ask me to write their work. Seriously, it was all I could do to not look at them and say ” I charge an outrageous consulting fee for doing your work. Perhaps, you should just take an English class. It would be cheaper..”
    Catty, I know.. But at least I’m honest.
    Guess that means no milk for me tonight. 😦

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