I’m a Grammar Nazi. There, I said it. I’m also, to a lesser degree, a Spelling Nazi but bad spelling doesn’t annoy me nearly as much as some-one who just doesn’t bother to use punctuation or uses words in the incorrect context. (“You’re” and “your”, “there”, “their” and “they’re”, “bean”, “been” and “being” and “to”, “too” and “two”) Bad spelling can almost always be excused by a typo, it’s not an issue and I mostly let it go but there are those who spell so badly that one has to work very hard to decipher the English. It is true that some of us were born to be better spellers than others, but it is also true that poor spellers can be helped with good instruction and if I correct your spelling, I’m not being mean. I’m trying to help you. There’s no need to launch a personal attack against me and call me names.
For some reason, some people take great offence to having their English corrected. A colleague recently referred to a truck as having ‘capsized’. When I gently pointed out that ships and boats capsize and trucks turn over, I was at once accused of being a “snob” and “How dare you correct my English?” Well, if you get it wrong, why can't I correct it? If I used Afrikaans words in the incorrect context I would be corrected and I wouldn’t take offence to it but maybe that’s just me. When I went to Paris, I used my very faltering 2-years worth of High School French on the locals and gratefully accepted help in pronunciation and translation, eventually becoming quite adept at it. Now I can hold quite a decent conversation in French and can even tell people that the monkey sits in the tree. (Thank you High School French for that very useful sentence!)
My Afrikaans is pretty good. Having attended several Afrikaans primary schools I’m fully bilingual but sometimes I falter with writing Afrikaans in a corporate context which I need help with. My Afrikaans colleagues are more than willing to put me right and again, I’m grateful for the assistance. So why is English such an issue? If English is not your first language then why the animosity when an English-speaker corrects you and if English is your first language, shouldn’t you just laugh off a correction?
I’m forever correcting people’s grammar and spelling online. (Well, I did say I was a Grammar Nazi!) The general consensus now is that’s quite okay to misspell words or to just drop vowels and then call it “text speak” or (worse!) “Mxit language”. Then there are those who type L1kE tHi$. Twinky Texting (mostly the reserve of teenage girls) is NOT English and whoever invented it should be lined up against a wall and shot. Use it in an FB status or on a forum and you’ll earn my instant contempt. It begs the question - if you don't care whether people can comprehend what you've written, why did you write in the first place?
Look, I’m not an ogre. When you’re having a heated online debate the last thing on your mind is using correct spelling and grammar and if you have a valid point, I always let it go but in general discussions and blogs, it irks me. It really does. If you’re going to post something online, read it through. If you know you have trouble with spelling, use a spell-checker. All computers have them. Smart phones have predictive text. (Okay, predictive text can sometimes lead to hilarious results but you get my drift) If English is not your first language, there are online translators that work for pc’s and smart-phones. Again, I’m not an ogre. If English is not your first language, I almost always let it go. It’s the English speakers that feel my wrath. You went to an English school. If you’re in a forum discussing current events, I would presume you have a basic understanding of the language. So what’s your excuse?
There are articles on this very platform that are full of spelling and grammatical errors. Do you not proof-read your article before hitting “post"? Or do you just type it in a hurry and not care?
I am fully aware that poor spelling or grammar is not an indication of inferior intelligence and that good spelling is NOT necessarily an indication of intelligence but if you choose to communicate an idea, shouldn’t you at least attempt to get it right?
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