I Just Can’t Help Myself…
I can’t help it. I honestly can’t. No matter what I read, whether it’s a blog, an article in a magazine or newspaper, or a book, I can’t help but edit as I read. I instinctively pick out the grammatical errors, found online and in print all too frequently these days: run-on sentences; sentences ending with a proposition (which seems to be more acceptable but it still bugs me); incorrect words, mainly homonyms (for example: their, they’re, and there) and misused possessive pronouns (its versus it’s); not knowing when to use a (precedes a word beginning with a consonant) versus an (precedes a word beginning with a verb); and placement of commas or their overuse. They stick out like sore thumbs for me.
I’m sure it harkens back to my private Catholic grammar school days (pun intended) where Catholic nuns with metal-sided rulers were quick to whip knuckles for the slightest error in English composition. Before the typewriter found its way into our home, I wrote and rewrote every paper I ever had to write, all the way up to and through eighth grade and my early high school years.
All This, From So-Called Professionals…
This morning was no different when I opened an email from a writer’s blog I follow. His specialty is advice on finding paid work as a freelance writer. Today’s blog was so full of blatant errors I couldn’t take his advice seriously. Immediately I thought does he write like this for clients? The article overflowed with grammatical errors: excessive/incorrect word use (using most when best is appropriate, the overuse of very and just, and redundancy, to name a few); misuse of homonyms (verses instead of versus when talking about writing a comparison article); and past/present tenses and singular/plural nouns all in the same sentence. I gave up in disgust before I was halfway through the blog.
Back in June, I posted a blog titled Graphic Un-Design, where I moaned about a new book cover that did not materialize as I’d hoped. What bothered me was the quality of the final product. I wrote: “…how devalued graphic design work has become with the advent of the Internet” and that so much of the work lacked “style and originality.”
I believe this to also be true of English grammar and writing in general, what with the advent of the Internet and the plethora of so-called (read: self-labeled) “online experts.” Far too often, I read articles and blogs where people are writing as they talk instead of editing for flow and clarity (and, ugh, spelling). A lax attitude has superseded the ability to accurately convey information or communicate one’s thoughts in general.
Writing, a once proud field where it was as important to be grammatically correct as it was to inform and entertain, is now chock full of lazy copy, lackluster prose and poorly presented information, regardless of the topic. This younger generation concerns themselves less with the details because they’re more focused on having their say, regardless of how they say it, no matter how ambiguous the message (or grammatically incorrect).
We cannot give up the good fight to maintain our writing integrity if we want our work to be taken seriously. Take advice from people who write as well as they speak (and vice versa) because it raises the bar – and demands more of us and our work.
That is my bone to pick.
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