Standards of written English, or Why The Fuck Can't Anyone Spell "Their"

Lynne Truss holds forth on the state of written English in today's Sydney Morning Herald. I, for one, agree heartily with Lynne's stance on poor English, and freely admit I'm imperfect in my own on occasion - but I make a conscious effort to get it right. Poor grammar and spelling are two things (of many) which make my blood boil, to the point where I generally go hungry rather than eat at a restaurant or cafe with a menu written by a functional illiterate. Lynne puts her finger on the nub of the problem - people who say “as long as I get my point across, does it matter if it's in perfect English?”.

Well yes, it bloody does matter. If you don't correctly elaborate your point, then you're running the risk of putting across the wrong ideas and confusing your audience. Worse, you're exposing yourself as careless at best and ignorant at worst.

Don't get me wrong, I myself often mis-type and I can recognise a mis-type when I see it. I'm not too bothered if you make a mistake in an informal, throw-away communication such as IM, email or even an informal blog post. However anything which by it's own nature would require a second read-through should be correct. And I reserve the right to look down on you as a lower life-form if you repeatedly make elementary mistakes in your first language.

So, for your edification, here's a little titbit correcting one common mistake which may, if I see you making it, cause me to punch you repeatedly in the kidneys:

Their: Belonging to them - it's their car
There: Referring to location - the car is parked over there
They're: Contraction of “they are“. They're going to drive their car from here to there.

It's not difficult, you ignorant little tardmonkeys.

posted @ Thursday, October 12, 2006 3:47 PM

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