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Poor spelling and incorrect use of words

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The guide to writing gripes advises that gripers should check their spelling before sending it off.  The site articles themselves are generally good and error free.  My gripe is about poor spelling and the inadequate use of the English language not only on this site but generally.  So many people today have poor spelling skills and use words incorrectly.  I am certainly not perfect.  Typos happen.  I make typos a lot because my fingers sometimes type faster than my brain works.  But I think this phenomenon of poor spelling and incorrect use of words is indicative of a lack of reading books in our culture and also a consequence of different ways in which English has been taught in our ever changing school curriculum.  It is also a product of laziness.  When I read through some of the gripes on this site there were a huge number of spelling errors.  It is abysmal.( I choose that word because someone on the site spelt that word as "abissimull".  Poor spelling and phrasing devalues what is often a good argument, or at least a sincerely felt one.  Good writing on the other hand can be persuasive.  Surely being persuasive is one benefit of griping.  Poor writing and bad spelling is also a turn off.  Who wants to persist reading gripes that are full of glaring errors?

Another tangential issue is the incorrect usage of certain words.  For example, the use of 'less' when the word 'fewer' is correct.  (A gold star to the person who is first to give an example of the correct uses for these words.) We ordinary mortals are not alone in our vulnerabilities when it comes to the use of language.  It is worth listening out for presenters such as BBC newsreaders and commentators and spotting how often they make mistakes.

An english dictionary It is important to offer possible solutions when griping on any subject.  Getting things off your chest is healthy, but failure to think about solutions to problems is apathetic and ultimately works against change for the better.  I would not go so far as to raise 'spelling bees' to the level that exists in the USA.  That is too nerdy.  But this country has produced some of the greatest writers.  I advocate more reading of books, and looking up words that are not understood for the correct meaning.  Make the effort and use a dictionary.  I advocate a serious effort within schools to tackle spelling.  I advocate an examination involving school students into the barriers that new technology presents to good spelling and the skilled use of language.

I would like to see passion and artistry brought into the language that politicians and civil servants employ.  The language of politics has become strained, tired and manipulative; peppered with euphemism and managerial-speak.  It is not good to talk about 'choice' for example when 'cuts' is what is really meant.  It is tiresome to hear words like 'stakeholder' or 'service user' and myriad other words clogging up the communications of the people who govern us.  It's also lazy and often dishonest.  Over time such use of language has the effect of switching off the ears of the very audience they want to persuade.  Language evolves of course.  If you think about it, good communication is essential to deal with almost every problem we have.  That must mean using language and words that can persuade or inspire or can really work to get over messages.

Finally, it is true that the spelling of words has changed over the centuries.  There is beauty in the language of the street.  New words are regularly added to the English dictionary as they become commonplace.  But that is no reason why generally accepted spellings for today should not be checked and used with a little more effort.  Gripe over.

By: RosieB


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Nick

Nick

I'm most annoyed with Maccie D's "Drive Thru" but since they are probably targeting the chav's market where nobody knows how to spell I think this is at least understandable if not acceptable.
Nick
30th Sep 13 09:31

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anon

anon

This site should change it's name to, "Try to dicipher this lot of mumbojumbo".
anon
17th Dec 12 16:52

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Critter

Critter

Well I've been guilty of typing errors and not checking. I apologise but I struggled with spelling at school and still get confused with some words and spelling rules. I was above average at physics, maths and other subjects, but spellings? Bad. One of my sons is dyslexic and I can sympathise with those who struggle to spell.
On top of this there's the problem of spell-checkers being American. After a while it's easy to forget the English spelling and accept the American, after all we see it so much that it's easy to think it's correct and the way we used to spell the word was wrong. Well that's the case with me anyway.
It's typing in text-speak that annoys me, I think that's just plain lazy. It's as if people don't have enough respect to provide readers with proper sentences. I can see it's use for texts as texting costs money so I appreciate folk wanting to use as few characters as possible (I personally choose to text in proper sentences though unless I am in a frantic rush), but I think it's disrespectful on emails, discussion forums etc.
Critter
25th May 11 18:52

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Carrot

Carrot

Ju - both "spelt" and "spelled" are considered correct in that context but spelled is more American English than "spelt".
Carrot
28th Apr 11 18:47

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Ju

Ju

How about a few quotations?
'I choose that word because someone on the site spelt that word as "abissimull".'
'Poor spelling and phrasing devalues what is often a good argument, or at least a sincerely felt one.'
'Who wants to persist reading gripes that are full of glaring errors?'

Well I for one did not persist in reading this gripe, thanks to the... abysmal spelling of the word 'spelled.'
Spelt is a kind of wheat, by the way.
Ju
28th Apr 11 18:04

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Boblet

Boblet

That is the one G.O.W. I was given a book by John Le Carre last night whilst having a pint in the Blue Boar. I doubt if I will read it. I then got talking to a woman about books. she told me about Kindle, I will check it out. It just shows to go you, we must mingle, books & the net do not push all buttons. sorry for not moaning folks.
Boblet
6th Mar 11 15:40

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grumpyoldwoman

grumpyoldwoman

Boblet, do you mean the biography of Curtis Warren? (I Googled it.) It does have some good reviews on Amazon but I'm not sure if I'd enjoy it. I don't read many bio's, only a few about writers or artists I like. Too many good books, not enough time to read them all!

Andrew, your point about the degradation of reading & writing makes me think of the fact that people complain about the government containing so many ex-public schoolboys; personally I'd rather the country was looked after by people who have had a decent education, and those who go to public school will soon be the only ones left who have.

I agree with you about gaining something from everything you read, you pick up all sorts of bits & pieces of information as well as surrogate experience of life and it's problems. I may like some of Hunter S.'s more journalisic work, I do remember the 60's and 70's quite well, unfortunately! We do have some favourites in common.

Carrot, Mr De Lint sounds good, I may give him a try. (I understand your second paragraph perfectly.) I do quite enjoy reading series of novels, being a bit of "completist" I would have to get them all!
grumpyoldwoman
6th Mar 11 09:39

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Carrot

Carrot

GOW, if you like fantasy you may like Charles De Lint, a Canadian writer whose books are usually categorised as "urban fantasy". He is not to everyone's taste but he is worth a try as it is always good to find new writers.

Some of his novels are "stand alones" but most are in the Newford series, in which characters from other Newford novels appear as minor characters "supporting" the main characters in that novel who may appear as minor characters in others. I hope I did not describe that too clumsily.

Each is complete and it isn't necessary to have read the others or to have read them in order but I think it adds to the enjoyment if you do.

He weaves together elements of European mythology , especially Celtic , and Native American myths and spiritual traditions.

If any posters like De Lint and have any suggestions about any other writers I may like, please feel free to let me know.
Carrot
5th Mar 11 22:27

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Andrew

Andrew

To me, Hunter S. Thompson is one of the best writers of the the 60's and 70's and of the last century. However, apart from Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas and perhaps The Rum Diary, his other work is pretty journalistic and integral to the times so it's quite specialised. You can still learn a lot about history, politics and journalism though, his work also acts as a good snapshot of the times.

My other favourite authors are Charles Bukowski, George Orwell, J.R.R. Tolkien, Arthur C. Clarke and Richard Dawkins (in no particular order) and H.P. Lovecraft.
Andrew
5th Mar 11 16:14

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Andrew

Andrew

I wouldn't say I have the right attitude to life, but I definitely the right attitude towards reading.

One assumption that always annoys me is when those that read either percieve themselves as smart or are percepted as being smart. Just because I read Nineteen Eighty-Four and other 'intelligent books' does not make me essentially more clever than the general population. The people that wrote these books are certainly more clever than the general population, but I am not.

I've allowed myself to absorb these works, but what I take from them is my own personal choice. Other than increasing vocabulary and reading speed, reading does not make me smarter than everyone else on a surface level. Some works can hit you with such profundity that your entire view of the world is changed, and from others you may gain nothing at all. But with the knowledge you gain from reading over wide sources, your understanding and perspective of the world becomes sharper than if you didn't, and that's what makes you slightly more intelligent.

I know I'm talking gibberish, but I'm sure there is a point in there that I'm trying to get across. Basically reading doesn't make you smarter, it's what you gain from it. Which could be nothing, as it happens. But you most likely will gain something from it.

I don't understand how some people in this forerunning country of the world can live their entire lives without even understanding or respect their own language.

With the degradation of reading and writing in schools, people will be far more open and susceptible to manipulation by the media and the government, as they won't be able to tell or make sense of what's going on.
Andrew
5th Mar 11 16:02

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Boblet

Boblet

Hi g.o.w another poster the jedi reminded me of a brilliant book, it is called Cocky, you will enjoy it I am sure
Boblet
5th Mar 11 14:33

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grumpyoldwoman

grumpyoldwoman

Andrew, you're right; people who don't read don't know what they are missing. Having said that though, "Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas" is one of only two books I couldn't finish, the other being "Barefoot in the Head" by Brian Aldiss. Still, to each his own! I haven't tried anything else by Hunter S., is there anything you could recommend?

I do love reading; mostly detective novels, science fiction & fantasy and horror. I love some of the really old stuff like Dashiell Hammett and Clark Ashton Smith; but my current "current" favourite is Kate Atkinson. The grumpyoldman and I read alot when we're on holiday, so I always try to take authors we both want to read, like Stephen King, Alexander McCall Smith & Kathy Reichs.

It's good to discover a new griper who can write intelligible English and likes books! Not to mention someone with the right attitude to life.
grumpyoldwoman
5th Mar 11 10:47

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Andrew

Andrew

I thought I could make it without reading books after 'Harry Potter' systematically destroyed any kind of joy I got out of them, but I got back into reading last year and I've never looked back since. It improves everything about yourself.

It's nice to feel 'learned', and even though I work as a Sales Assistant in a Supermarket, I don't allow that to be an excuse (although I'm pretty sure there are plenty of intelligent sales assistants - I'm just putting out the message that you don't have to be an English teacher). I mean, my assistant manager put up a note on the wall the other week written in text-speak, and I had to put up with 'Sorry for the inconvience'.

Even though I failed English at school and hated it, I enjoyed the books I was given to read. It annoys me when some people just point-blank refuse to read, either caused by ignorance, some presumption that it's 'boring' or a previous bad experience. My favourite author is currently Hunter S. Thompson, and anyone who claims that reading is 'boring' has almost certainly never read anything that he's ever written!

Also, when I was in school I was quite surprised to see that most of my teachers didn't care at all for spelling or grammar 'as long as they got the marks they needed to pass'. Only a couple of my Science teachers refused to mark work if it was littered with writing mistakes. I have a particular friend, and his writing remains that of a 12-year old and he is now verging on 21. He's also in his 3rd year of University.

My own writing isn't perfect, but I am on the long road to achieving this goal. I guess there's no harm in trying; better than not trying at all.
Andrew
5th Mar 11 03:03

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Westone Babe

Westone Babe

I once recieved an e-mail from a junior member of staff at work, which was written almost entirely in "text speak". I returned it to the sender with the comment that I only understand English.
If I was the manager of a company wishing to employ new staff, I wouldn't even interview anyone who couldn't write a decent C.V. Everyone in this country has the opportunity to be educated and can also choose not to be, but if they skip their education, their future employment prospects could be bleak.
Westone Babe
21st Dec 10 22:38

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Bagpuss

Bagpuss

Fed up wiv the way people speak!! Worst cases - bruvvu - wiv - muvvu etc Not pronouncing the letter t or the letter h in words - (Can I av I - where is i?) I tried to stop my granddaughter falling into the same trap and decided to make it worth her while - so whenever she pronounced her th's I paid her real money - only 10p or a penny or whatever I had in my change pot in the car. Last week she told her her bruvvu was getting on her wick."Oh what a pity - you could have earned 10p then" I remarked. She thought for a minute and said - "Nana - you know nana Lil - well - she smokes thags!" Defininitely worth a pound!
Bagpuss
20th Dec 10 09:37

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