An open letter and a personal plea

This entry was posted by on Tuesday, 2 November, 2010 at

I hope you understand, I like you. I don’t think I am smarter than you, nor do I think you are stupid.  If that were the case I wouldn’t associate with you, let alone call you “friends”. I do not consider myself above reproach, nor infallable*. We all have our faults, we all make mistakes, but I am noticing a very disturbing trend: a backlash against proper spelling, grammar, and punctuation.

Call me the grammar police, or the spelling cops, but I draw the line at Nazi. Really? I am not condemning you to the gas chambers because you left out an Oxford comma, or decided that comma was spelled coma (a distinction that can very easily outline the importance of spelling on its own). Yes, I may demand your use of proper English, and yes I likely will point it out when you fail to do so. But labeling me as a Nazi is uncalled for (unless you want me goose-stepping all over your dangling participles).

I come to you today, however, not to demand that you improve your spelling or grammatical skills; no I come to you today to implore you to simply stop this growing trend of hate against people who expect communication at a higher level than ‘pre-school’. I know that you, my friends, are better than that. When we speak with each other, I hear the voices of intelligent thought. There are times, however, when I read your Facebook posts or Twitter statuses, and even emails and sigh heavily at the impression you are giving to the rest of the world. It makes me sad because I know you for the intelligent people you are, but that intelligence is simply not reflected when you make such obvious spelling or grammatical errors. People will judge you on your written communication skills; like it or not.

So please, take this to heart: I am not seeking attention when I correct you, I am trying to help you learn. I want you to use proper spelling, grammar, and punctuation so that others may see the intelligence you truly hold and not miss your real message. From a much more selfish side, I simply want to understand what you are trying to say without having to translate through improper structure or spelling issues. We are all inundated with information nowadays, so efficiency and clarity of communication is even more essential now. Proper use of spelling, grammar, and punctuation is critical to these end goals.

To be clear, it isn’t perfection I seek, but rather incremental improvement from our present state. We can all stand to improve our communication skills, and today seems like the perfect day to start!

*See what I did there? An intentional misspelling to prove a point!

8 Responses to “An open letter and a personal plea”

  1. Mrs. Campbell

    Here here
    As I know I have read, and think I have said; there in no intelligent discourse once someone cries “nazi.”
    Also, I’ve always known the final comma in a list, before the “and” to be a Harvard comma.

  2. Interesting, as I’ve always known that same use of a comma as the Oxford comma, obviously. The things we learn when we communicate clearly! 🙂

  3. Thank you and bravo.

  4. Cat

    Likewise, I appreciate well-written material, like to see people work toward personal improvement, laugh at my own typos (and frequently fix them on twitter and/or facebook), approve of (and support) the serial comma, and still can understand the nature of human error. I *also* take offense at the incorrect (and far too frequent) application of the word “Nazi” to mean anything other than the historical context. Being interested in standards and improved achievement does not make me a Nazi, and degrades the real horror of that part of history.

    Do your best. Encourage me to do the same. Accept critique with grace and patience. Grow. Improve. Be considerate.

    Or as Wil Wheaton says, “Don’t be a dick.”

  5. Gina

    Brilliant and brave–bravo! Defensively, I would add that some of us love the English language, but are reaching out to communicate amidst the screaming and frequent needs of children. So I apologize…I DO make errors mid thought. But, please do correct me. I would correct myself more thoroughly if I could. <3

  6. Gina, no need to be defensive at all. I recognize imperfection, heck I embody it! I think most of us know when someone just makes a typo on a mobile phone, or is rushed to post a comment, etc. My issue is with those who refuse to try, refuse to improve, and then attack people who care by calling us Nazis.

    Cat, I knew you’d agree (amazing eh?). We should all strive to do our best, to improve on the status quo. But sometimes, just sometimes, it is FUN to be a dick to those who know better… and then sometimes that results in them quitting Twitter 😉

  7. Gina

    You know, it is said that only writers care about semicolons; I tend to agree.

  8. Gina, I love it!


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