Monthly Archives: January 2011

Rant: General Language Idiocy – I’m looking at you, Facebook.

TL;DR version: You’re all idiots. Learn English.

Full version:

Some of you may or may not know me as a bit of a grammar nazi (or Grammar Nazi, if you really want to be anal about it). It’s true, to a certain extent. I enjoy being able to read things that people have said without having to first decode/decrypt from whatever language they’ve mangled English into. You know what I mean, right? Those ‘sentences’ people use with substituted letters for words, or numbers for words, or mixes of both. Those times you have to mentally add punctuation because whoever wrote what you’re reading was too lazy to do it themselves. Those times that words are so horribly misspelled that you have to read them phonetically, then think of the accent that person uses, then their peculiar speech pattern, before finally figuring out what the hell they were trying to say.

Let me say it: Come on people, it’s really not hard. In fact, it’s so simple, school kids can do it. Why can’t you?

I’ll come back to that ridiculous text speak and punctuation in a bit. Let me first have a word about spelling. You have no excuse – not a single one.

“I’m dyslexic.” – Spell check:

In this day and age you have zero excuse for spelling errors while using a computer to type things. Nor, for that matter, do you have any excuse while using a phone to type things. Nor a PDA. Nor a tablet. Get the idea? For example, typing in a browser. How many of you use Firefox, or Chrome? Have you ever noticed while you’re typing that some of your words have squiggly little red lines under them? Do you want to know a secret? IT MEANS YOU GOT IT WRONG! Want to know another secret? Right-click the word and there’ll be a list of suggestions. The correct spelling will be there somewhere, unless you got it so horribly wrong that even guesswork couldn’t get it. If that happens, Google it. Google will suggest the right word. Do it! Phones have predictive text, and have had since T9 was invented. Again, no excuse.

“You know what I mean, what does it matter?” – Lazy:

Wait, you’re telling me that I should make up for your lazy ass by using extra brain cycles to figure out what you meant? Why? I make an effort to be sure I’m using the right words so that people can understand what it is I’m saying with as little confusion or misunderstanding as possible. Why can’t you extend that same courtesy to me?

“I always get confused between these words.” – Look it up:

Did you know that languages are fairly well documented? There are wonderful books, called dictionaries, stuffed full of lovely words – all in alphabetical order! Failing that, there’s the internet. The internet has online dictionaries. Are they so hard to use? If you get confused between words it’s because you haven’t used them correctly enough times to remember them. Look them up, use them correctly, and you’ll find you won’t be so confused after the next three times.

And just in case you don’t get this bit, I’m talking about words like ‘they’re’, ‘their’, and ‘there’. Along with such classics as “you’re” and “your”. Actually, you know what? I’m going to teach you right now.

They’re, their, and there:

“Hey look, they’re over there with their thing!” – This sentence should be enough for you to figure out exactly the uses of each of the words.

They’re: This is a contraction of “they are”. Look at it real close now. They are. They re. They’re. See? Isn’t that easy?

There: That there is the word there. It’s right there, see it? There, where I’m pointing. No not there, THERE! Yes, there. Got it?

Their: Now seriously, if you can understand the other two by now then this one defaults to the only other meaning. “Their” denotes ownership of something. That’s their car. They live in their house. Why is that strange person wangling around their… You get the idea.

You’re and your:

These are simple. “You’re” is another contraction. You are. You re. You’re. See? “Your” is the possessive form of you. Hopefully your brain can hold all this in. You can do it! Do your best!

And while we’re on the subject of “your” and “you’re”…

“heya m8 wot u up 2? goin out 2nite or stayin in at urs???”

Christ on a bike I hated writing that ‘sentence’. This is the kind of thing I see all the time, and it’s painful. I die a little inside when I read such things. I weep for the English language. I feel the need to slap someone in the face when I read this kind of thing, with a cluebat, or a clue-by-four, or a L.A.R.T – preferably the person who wrote it. Hard.

Firstly, uppercase letters – use them, please. Please? Upper case letters are used at the beginning of every sentence, at least. Even if that’s the only place you use them, is it really so hard? The shift key on your keyboard isn’t there just to look pretty, or take up space. It has a real purpose and use. Don’t let it get too lonely or it’ll cry, and so will I. Do you really want to see a grown man cry? Do you?!

Let’s now look at the horribly misspelled words. “m8” is not a word. I see what you did there, it’s very clever. You put an m for the ‘muh’ sound, and followed it with an 8, resulting in meight. Oh wait, that wasn’t clever after all, was it? It doesn’t end up spelled correctly that way either. “wot” is not a word (although technically it is, but not the one you’re thinking of). Add an extra letter, and change the other for the correct letter and you have the word you’re looking for. Don’t know what I mean? Watch – wot > whot > what. It’s one extra character longer than wot, but that takes you all of 0.2 seconds longer to type? Quit being lazy. “goin” is not a word. Dropping the g from the end of words is not cool. It’s not street. It’s not urban. It’s just stupid. Just because your particular dialect drops the g from the end of words when you pronounce them it doesn’t mean you drop them from the written version of the language. “2” is not the same as “too”, or “to”. “2nite” is not a word. You’re looking for “tonight”, which is only 2 extra letters. Don’t be lazy. “urs” is not a word. “Ur”, does not equate to “your”, or “you’re”. It’s plain wrong. Quit it.

Back in the days where text messages were expensive, and due to the 160 character limit per message, people came up with this ridiculous way of typing out messages. Text speak. *shudder* I’ll admit, I used to use it myself. I grew out of it as technology moved on, and texts became cheaper, and even bundled into value packages and sold in the thousands that you people somehow manage to use up and get charged for going over quota… But I digress. I certainly never felt the need to use this text speak when I wasn’t limited to a small number of characters, for example: on a computer. I have a full keyboard in front of me, I have unlimited space in which to type, and therefore have no need at all to shorten my words while simultaneously mutilating my language. You have no excuse for doing it. You’re just lazy.

And finally…

Punctuation:

We all learned this in school. All of us. Unless you were under a rock throughout your entire childhood you should have at least a basic understanding of punctuation. Full-stops (periods for you merkin-type) come at the end of a sentence. A comma (, in case you didn’t know) is, basically, used as a kind of pause in a sentence (oversimplification I know, but if you don’t know by now you really should go and look it up). An apostrophe (‘) is used in a contraction. Think of it as a substitute for a letter and a space (“they’re”, for example, has an apostrophe instead of the space and the a). A question mark, interestingly enough, comes after a question. Exclamation marks/points come after you exclaim something. Obvious!

(As a side note let me quickly say something about question marks and exclamation marks. Use only one of them. Just one. That’s all you need. Using more than one doesn’t make your question or exclamation more important, it just makes you look stupid. Where do you think the !!!!!!11!!!1!oneone meme came from?)

Using just these five punctuation marks would make many of your status updates/notes/blog entries/tweets much more readable and friendly on the brain. They’re designed to help with sentence structure. They’re not difficult to use either. Save the English language from yourself. Stop murdering it. ‘kay?

I don’t expect perfection from anyone. I’m not perfect in the slightest myself, but I do put the effort in. If I don’t know how to spell a word I’ll look it up. If I’m unsure of a punctuation mark I’ll look it up. It’s how we learn. Question it if you’re unsure, read up on it, digest it, use it. The more you do it the more natural it becomes. The more natural it becomes, the less you think about it, the easier it becomes. The easier it becomes the less you get it wrong, and the less I have to complain at you for it.

Right. Rant over. 😀

(Anyone who feels like correcting me on this post, go ahead. Let’s see who wins. 😉

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