Friday 11 October 2013

Excoriating the unacceptable in written English communication

Rotten text English
I happened upon a posting on Facebook where the writer in expressing disapproval of the content of an email he received, posted the text stating the sender was a graduate of an unnamed university and the person had been previously warned about writing in that manner.
The email contained a greeting, lots of bad punctuation, misspelt words and bad grammar forming the basis for a request along of the lines of being engaged for some project by the recipient of the email.
Social Media is hardly the problem
The comments that followed the posting gave a general idea of what people might think of such communication that I was compelled to add an opinion that I have expanded into the blog below.
The first comment, suggested this was what you get for spending so much time on Social Media, however, I begged to differ with the this statement - I do not think the excuse is time spent on Social Media, I come from the telegram generation where words cost a lot of money and we did not succumb to such sloppiness.
Adapt to the platform
In fact, with the advent of Short Message Service (SMS) on mobile phones restricted to 160 characters and now tweets on Twitter restricted to 140 characters, the need to be correct, concise and clear should not be sacrificed to this nonsensical mode of communication.
Now, the use of phonetic spellings, homophones, abbreviations and words missing their vowels are becoming the standard mode of communication amongst many. In fact, if this were used as personal shorthand to be transcribed to proper text for public dissemination, I would have no problem with it.
I have had instances where visiting another country, the need for sentences to be properly formed and written is essential for the use of an online translator, if people speaking different languages need to communicate – this kind of writing using strange words does not help.
No excuses
Another comment asked if the person were a possible hire; unlikely, would be the response. We must not confuse this lack of attention to language communication with dyslexia; this fad has crept from informal communication into formal letters, the writers being none the wiser about how this reflects on them and their prospects.
There is no excuse for writing English letters this way, most especially in emails or on Facebook, where there is enough space and spellcheckers are available to ensure good and correct spelling. Besides, to ignore such promptings to spell correctly is both reckless and irresponsible, such stubborn use of unconventional text should be penalised.
Call me old-fashioned but communication between animals if they had script would never be reduced to this.
Standards in written language communication matter
Other comments followed from absolving the writer from any blame to asking the recipient to be more amenable to such faddish style of writing. I guess this represents how many feel about this, but if we should maintain standards; that includes everyone, and dictionaries are not to become a compendium of a jumble of letters given any meanings suited to the times, some of us have to decide what is acceptable and what is not.
On this occasion, I suggested the writer needs a stern telling off for today, just in case the person encounters a less forgiving person on matters that concern opportunity and prospect after this.
I am probably a purist of sorts, I make mistakes, but I strive to ensure that I use dictionary reviewable words of the language of choice when communicating with people. I have lapsed into sesquipedalianism at times, but that is to maintain context and carry a message.
When it comes to Twitter, I have learnt brevity, concision and precision is possible with the use of correct English grammar and proper English words in the limited space of 140 characters – I believe, there are no excuses for sloppy writing, regardless of the platform.

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