Monday, March 1, 2010

Grammar vs. Technology

I have a little bone to pick. It's spurred by my niece, who turns 13 today. That's right, she's a teenager and I'm feeling exceptionally antiquated and grumpy. "In my day, Pluto was a planet! And get off my lawn!" (Pluto, you'll always be a planet in my mind.)

She's always been a quick learner, especially with technology. She was using a mouse before a crayon, she knew how to turn on the CD player for her night-time music by 18 months, and she's spent a great deal more of her time playing computer games than board games.

This past year she got a cell phone, and periodically I'll get random texts from her, like the "I'm turning 13 in 5 days!" text just recently, or the text asking if we wanted to buy Girl Scout cookies from her a month ago. And herein begins the rant. The girl is 13 and has horrible spelling. Even worse, she doesn't care. And what confuses me, is that she reads. A lot. Which I always thought was a great cure for spelling and grammar problems. Apparently not.

When I teased her about her text message spelling, she responded, "well they're texts, it doesn't matter". And yes, I understand the abbreviations and the shortcuts and all that stuff. But it doesn't make choosing "by" when you mean "buy" correct. Because those have two different meanings. Or "bord" instead of "bored". Seriously? It's one more letter! And my sister (her mom)'s response is, "I know. We're working on it. But you should see how her friends text." Oh Lord, I'm sure I don't want to.

I know that technology has changed how people write and communicate. I break English grammar rules on here all the time. And yes, I'll shorten words on Twitter or in text messages. But I know what's correct, and can use it when necessary. And I don't let myself have spelling errors (typos, maybe, spelling, no).

So are the kids growing up today who should know this stuff ignoring it because they don't think it matters? That really makes me sad. More importantly, is society becoming a place where we overlook such things because it doesn't matter anymore? I just don't think so. So ultimately, it does matter.

Let's look at the real world for a minute. Can you really tell me that you don't lose respect for a blog/blogger that consistently has bad spelling and grammar? Do you really believe that a company receiving your resume and cover letter won't care if there are misspellings and grammar mistakes, and will give you a job representing them over someone who does know that stuff?

And can we just set something straight here for everyone? Why does no one know the difference between when to use "its" and "it's"? (Even my phone auto-corrects "its" to have an apostrophe, which drives me crazy!). I assume everyone gets confused because possessive nouns usually have an apostrophe, but so do contractions.

So, for the record, "it's" is a contraction of "it is". "Its" is possessive and there is no apostrophe!! Can we all figure this out and follow it from now on please?

Yes, I was an English major. Yes, I was a copy editor/proofreader for a few years. But I don't feel like I'm asking too much here (did I get into the "then" vs. "than" issue? "there" vs. "their" vs "they're"?). I've even run across grammar and spelling mistakes in emails or web pages from huge professional companies that should have 10 people proofreading this stuff.

It's electronic and digital and easy to put out into the world. I'm aware of all that. But it doesn't make it less important. Am I the only one bothered by this?!

1 comment:

Laidlaw said...

I don't think it's just young people. I notice plenty of full grown adults that are the same way.

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