What You Say – How You Say It

Ellen, over at Notes From the UK gave me a great way to introduce a mini-rant that I have been trying to figure out how to begin. Ellen periodically answers questions about England and Great Britain – if you don’t know the difference, read her blog, she’s answered that question more than a few times – and she mixes in a healthy amount of humor and sarcasm while she’s at it. It’s hard not to laugh, and it’s hard to think ill of her, because she is usually right. One area where she’s always right is the world of grammar, punctuation and spelling (gps). Ellen used to be an editor. I dread the day I put a comment on her blog that contains a typo.

Gotta love Ellen’s response

Apparently, Ellen is also one of the few remaining people who care about the lower-case gps. Social media is ripe with gps errors and, as most of the content on social media should be, they are often overlooked by a readership that is familiar with smart phones, their tiny keyboards and their insane correction software. However, social media typos are spilling over into resumes, applications, advertising, letters to the editor and newspaper articles; and that’s a disturbing trend.

Recently, there was a post on the neighborhood-focused social platform NextDoor that included a spelling error that was hard to miss. The contributor was talking about a small and somewhat dangerous section of main road that goes past the entrance to a Super Walmart. Two lanes collapse into one, shortly after the traffic light. Frequently, some yahoo will burn-out of the soon-to-be-gone right lane and cut off the folks in the continuing left lane. That isn’t news folks, that’s normal here in New England. Still, the writer called on readers to complain to the town’s mayor about the dangers of “murging” at that intersection.

Far be it from me to call out a spelling error, but the “u” on most keyboards is nowhere near the “e” and it’s unlikely that this woman’s phone suggested “murge” over “merge” – unless, of course she ignored the squiggle and added “murge” to her dictionary. Note: I did that with “borker” – a misspelling of “broker” – but if you’ve worked in insurance, you might not care. In any case, after multiple instances of this error, someone commented: “For the love of Pete, the word is MERGE!” I felt her frustration. I wanted to yell that out, too. The woman who made the error justified it as an acceptable, older form of “merge.” Yeah, OK. Back when horse-drawn carriages were facing a narrow road ahead, they were described as murging. I get it.

A week later, another contributor attempted to call us to action with a comment that was littered with typos. Rather than call that person out, the gps aficionado added her own post under the headline “Spelling” and simply said “People really need to learn how to spell on this site.”

All hell broke loose.

Well over 50 comments were posted, most along the lines of “who are you, the grammar police?” Again, you know me, you know why I employ The Editor, but even I know that spelling isn’t grammar. Even more than that apparent lack of concern over typos, it was the defense of bad gps and the taunting of the person who was right that frustrated me. The contributor who put up the spelling post called attention to two valid and important facts:

1) Security experts suggest that bad grammar is a sign of spam/scams/phishing, and

2) Spelling errors, as well as grammar and punctuation errors, reduce the credibility of the author, particularly when he/she is trying to persuade their audience.

This rational argument garnered even more taunting quips about the grammar police.

I did not come to the aid of the gps advocate. I am not active on NextDoor. NextDoor, like the big boys it’s trying to emulate (FaceBook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.) offers a free service in order to harvest data about you, aggregate that data and then sell it. I’m sure several people in the north-central Connecticut area are now seeing ads for Grammarly free trials.

Grammar, punctuation and spelling are important. If your skills in those areas are not strong, get help before you submit your resume.


I’m sharing a few more photos from the Broadmoor in Colorado Springs. This pattern will continue throughout the week.

98 thoughts on “What You Say – How You Say It

Add yours

  1. I admit I can be rather judgemental about something that is badly written. To me it is just one more piece of evidence that the world is dumbing-down.

    Having said that, both of my parents were immigrants and English was their second language. I remember letters from my mom when I was in university that were simply a delight to read. She used no punctuation at all, or capitals. None, zero, nada. Her letters were one long continuous sentence. I could amuse myself simply by where I decided to mentally insert the periods and commas.

    I guess what I’m saying is that we can forgive a lot when we understand the source and intent however social media is a public platform and has become a polluted river of good and bad content. If anyone wants to be taken seriously, their message better be soundly constructed.

    Liked by 7 people

    1. I can imagine your delight in receiving those letters, Joane. My paternal grandmother learned to speak English (well enough) but she never learned to write. I remember conversations with her. As you say, you could choose to judge, or you could think for 30 seconds about the life she had had prior to that moment and cut her some slack. She may not have always used the right word, but her message was spot on.

      It comes down to your last sentence – if you want to be taken seriously – that’s what the woman was suggesting. Her message was a little harsh, but she didn’t deserve to be pounced on. That’s what I don’t like about social media, the mob-mentality. If the first three comments are negative, watch out.

      Thanks for adding this comment.

      Liked by 4 people

    1. Thanks. Murge was making me twitch, and spelling has challenged me all my life. Before spellcheck was ubiquitous, I had a dictionary at my side, at home, at work, in school..It’s not that hard to look up what you don’t know.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. I was going to leave a comment with bad grammar and misspellings, but thought I’d be nice on a Monday morning. Great post, Dan. Or should I say rant? I have been appalled at the lack of gps on resumes lately, especially from those with a college degree. It truly astounds!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thanks Mary. You could have gotten away with that, your writing is solid. I struggled to make sure I got this right (I hope no one finds an error). The worst resume I ever received was from a guy that included ‘xCellent communication skills’ as a strength. Yeah, that one was headed for the basket.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I get CVs and job application letters with misspellings and outright bad grammar. Sometimes I want to help but the errors take away something from the application. There was a girl who always forgot to space between sentences. She would put a comma instead and it irritated me. I have received letters written like social media posts.
    Anyway, I like the reply about the price of apostrophes. I had to laugh at that.

    Liked by 3 people

      1. The part that makes me sad is that the applications are typed in Microsoft Word which underlines grammatical errors in the document. The errors are difficult to ignore, and for a person to completely ignore them and print the document as it is, it means he or she doesn’t care.

        Liked by 2 people

  4. Oh, Dan….I receive emails at work with all kinds of grammatical errors. Sadly, the message is lost on me because I cannot get over the spelling or grammar. I need to focus, but people…..did you not pay attention in school? Your photos are beautiful–I am such a sucker for reflections.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Guilty as charged. My daughter even pokes fun at the captions in our photo albums. ‘The stars were shinning brightly in the midnight sky’.I have mostly attributed my short-comings to being raised in the South, where everything is spelled phonetically. Yes, we have several dawgs and sometimes we wander whir they run off too. Now that I know the grammar police are on the lookout, I will have to clean up my act. Smile!!

    Liked by 4 people

  6. Im skeered two tipe anythink becuz it mite bee rong! 😂😂😂

    We all trip over grammar and spelling and punctuation now and then. It happens. Having said that, Ellen’s response is hysterical….but then I’m not the person it was aimed at!

    Love all the photos today. What an absolutely gorgeous place. Your camera must have been doing the Happy Dance! 🤗
    🐾Ginger 🐾

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Your comment is pretty funny, Ginger. I can’t talk. I leave a lot of typo-ridden comments around the blogs.

      I laughed when I read Ellen’s comment.

      My camera did enjoy itself. It’s always amazing to be surrounded by beauty.

      Like

  7. Murge is the perfect word to describe the actions of the offending drivers. The term merge is too bloodless. It merely conveys the physical act of coming together as one. Murge, on the other hand, expresses the crazy, rude and thoughtless self-regard that all to many a******s…….

    Well, you get the point. :)

    Liked by 3 people

  8. oh my. i think you just sent me to jolly olde england without a passport and i nearly escaped a lengthy discourse on cockwombles. saturday we will discuss whether or knot you exhibited any moderation when you brashly included the link to Ellen’s dispensory of information…

    Liked by 3 people

    1. John, I thought we agreed that moderation is overrated. All I know is that if you exit Ellen’s page without laughing and learning something (that may or may not be true), you should breath on a mirror, just to be sure.

      Liked by 2 people

  9. I can’t even get started on this. You know my stumbling fingers and time constraints often lead to typos, but the new dismantling and outright butchering of the English language is deplorable. It is not about perfectionism as some might accuse. It is about communication. Words matter. Soon we’ll all be grunting and pointing like Neanderthals. 🙊

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Typos in blog comments, especially when typed on a phone, are understandable. Typos of this nature, in a post that you have time to prepare and review, with which you hope to influence people to take steps on behalf of your cause…unacceptable.

      To ridicule the person who is brave enough to point that out – that’s inexcusable.

      Like

      1. It has become a total ‘don’t blame me’, ‘you’re being mean’, ‘anything goes’ society. I think I showed you the coupon I got in an official card from Target about a sale on per-scription eyeglasses. PERscription. I know a lot of folks say it that way and no one corrects them. But this is Target’s business. I am supposed to trust them to get said prescription done correctly? Someone I know and like on Instagram suggested maybe they did it on purpose so that dyslexic people wouldn’t feel bad. 😳 Where does it end? I wouldn’t hold a dyslexic person responsible for an error in correspondence but I certainly wouldn’t put them in charge of advertising just so they didn’t feel left out. No, when you are asking for assistance for the public at large, you should not be lazy about your words.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. You are so right, Cheryl. Putting out a public message shouldn’t be cute, and it certainly shouldn’t be wrong. I hold companies accountable for everything under their control. Even when I get cutoff by one of their drivers. When I drove a company vehicle, I was told “our name is on that van, so drive carefully and be considerate.” Take the time to get things right.

          Like

  10. I am guilty of pushing send before rereading many times. My phone is recognizing my words now, so unless it’s my cold morning fingers obviously trumping them, my spell check works well. My daughter was a skater for a while and we stayed at the Broadmoor for a competition, lovely. The area is so close to the beautiful Rockies, what’s not to like? The rare trips to Denver from Cheyenne provide long distance beauty of the Rocky Mountain range, I do love them!

    Liked by 2 people

  11. I feel oddly chastened after reading through the comments. I’m really not–well, hell, I don’t know what I’m not. I’d like to say I’m not half as vicious in person as I am when I’m answering the questions of people who’ll never see the answers. Okay, I did just say that, and it may even be true. For what it’s worth, though, I keep my trap shut about typos in the comments. I’ve left enough of them myself, on my blog (where at least I get to correct them) and on other people’s (where I don’t). There’s something throwaway about the form that encourages us all not to proofread them.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. My worst OMG moment is when I’ve pushed reply only to see I made an error or that it has been changed by spell check. Of course I can’t change it, I can only apologize. Now I’m heading over to your site to read the infamous post!☺️

      Liked by 1 person

    2. I didn’t mean to give such an impression. I though people would see the humor in your post and focus on the subject of my rant. The real issue that I was trying to highlight is how the voice of reason was ridiculed and bullied after trying to make a case for better spelling. I would never describe you as mean. I guess I gave a bad impression by describing fear at looking bad in comments on your site.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Well, Dan, you know how important editing is to me. But it’s not about making things just so, or being overly didactic, or whatever negative spin anyone wants to put on it. Not for me, anyway. It’s about being understood — or at least preventing misunderstanding. A lot of “GPS” errors are merely funny. But some have led to terrible arguments and hurt feelings — and worse. So while I don’t believe in being obnoxious about it, I’ll keep manning the ramparts for good grammar. :)

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Ummmm… it’s Facebook not FaceBook (sorry, I couldn’t resist). Personal snarkiness aside, I completely agree with this. I think spelling, grammer, and punctuation are important (even though I struggle with all three at times) and I cringe when I see errors in my writing – whether in a letter, a text, a blogpost, or in a comment. I love Ellen’s response to the person who forgot the apostrophe… she got her point across with humor.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. The photos were beautiful. The skaters memorial was very touching. Yeah, I spend all the days of my life searching out and killing typos. When I see them in rants I simply hit delete. No use paying attention to someone who is more sloppy than me.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Oh, just write the damn story. If it’s good, we’ll read it despite any typos, grammar errors or misspellings. Us old folks (who actually had classes in elementary school on this very subject), know what the spelling and grammar is supposed to be. We might get annoyed, but we’ll read anyway. At least I do. And of course, I never, ever make these kinds of mistakes (and I’m sticking with that line).

    Having thus posted my own mini-rant and probably ticked off the Grammar Policy, I must admit that it annoys the hell of out me when I pick up a book which has been published by some established, well-known publishing company, and find typos and grammar errors. That makes me want to show up on their doorstep with a red pen in hand (maybe accompanied by my old English teacher, Mr. V.)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m guessing that you are pretty close to the line with grammar, because, I keep reading your posts, and I don’t read very long if the writing isn’t something that Mr. V would have given a B or a B+.

      Let me illustrate by describing what I read and the effect of bad gps.

      Non-fiction – bad gps = loss of credibility

      Poetry – bad gps = distorted meaning – everything matters in poetry

      Fiction – bad gps = interruption of the assimilation of the story – it interrupts the flow.

      Maybe it doesn’t matter on my Thursday Doors posts, but I still try.

      Like

      1. These days, I think most of my followers just come for the pictures, so gps probably isn’t all that important. However, I do try to be accurate with all the written stuff – that got drummed into me over the years, and I really hate when I make a mistake which someone else then points out. It makes me feel like a crappy writer.

        Like

  16. I try to be always aware of the correct grammar and spellings in my posts or whenever I write something. I used to always tell my kids off when they were younger. My daughter got that from me and she sometimes tells her friends off about their grammar too. Hopefully I wrote this comment correctly Haha

    Your photos are amazing by the way, especially those with water reflections.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Oh, an opportunity to share my pet peeves in the world of punctuation! It seems like some people buy apostrophes in bulk (thanks to Ellen for the phrasing :)), and use them even when the opportunity does NOT present itself… Like “The Apple’s” or “List of Example’s.” 😑

    Liked by 2 people

  18. What a beautiful memorial! And what a tranquil location. Dan you are preaching to the choir! I have been known to (quite often) yell corrections at the TV. I may not be perfect but I do make an effort.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Here’s my take on proper grammar. I’ve decided that in the interest of peace & harmony on earth, I’ll overlook most grammar mistakes that I read online. While I attempt to always do my best, be accurate, and follow the old-fashioned rules, social media has spawned a whole new way of communicating [hence my poll questions last week]. And because of that some good people, who don’t understand grammar as well as I do, often write things that are grammatically incorrect but suggest they have the ability to think critically. And that is enough to get me on their sides.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That’s a reasonable approach, Ally. The ‘murge’ lady was making a valid observation, but asking us to support an unreasonable request. I know there are idiot drivers, but you can’t physically block every choke point on the road. People were pointing that out, and people were pointing out that, because it’s a state road, the mayor can’t do anything. She kept arguing and kept using ‘murge’ and someone finally blew a gasket.

      Liked by 1 person

  20. I’m still laughing – this rant post is great. On an additional sad note, the typos like this happen while texting, can you imagine what their errors look like on real paper, scribbled down in pencil or pen? Wait – those are probably some of the meme photos we see on Facebook? PS – I couldn’t pick a favorite photo – they were all gorgeous. I can see why you called it your happy place!

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Ok, now I feel bad. I am famous for the …… (dot-dot-dot) in my responses….just free flowing thoughts….ok, I know better….see I’m still doing it…ugh!

    I love the Broadmoor!! My wife’s sister lived in Colorado Springs (The Springs) when we lived in Denver and we use to go down all the time! Beautiful city nestled at the foot of Pike’s Peak!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Kirt. Your posts and comments are always clear. I’m not complaining about you, or anyone out here. My grief was with the way they treated the woman who was offering good advice.

      It is a beautiful venue. Our policyholders were all very happy.

      Liked by 1 person

  22. What an awesome gallery, Dan!! Astounding pictures. Wow!! I can’t wait to see more. I have little tolerance, fyi, for those who do not capitalize properly, or punctuate properly, do not know how to separate sentences into paragraphs, or do not spell right.

    True story. My GP’s norm for communication with me is via a portal meaning email. She is articulate, and very precise in what she says and how she says it. You can tell she is educated. One day a doctor covered for her and the message I received was no caps used at all and shorthand slang. I was appalled. It was as though he was texting. And even with texting I take care to capitalize properly and write as I normally do.

    Another case I remember reading a blog of a woman who was an MD and she for the life of me could not spell or write! I was shocked! How does someone going through med school not know how to write? Scary!! I can tell if the language (English) is not a person’s first language so I understand. But, someone whose main language is English? No excuse! I’ve even deleted comments over at my blog due to bad grammar. I first check out, however, if he or she has another first language though, so before I delete I investigate. Cool rant!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Amy. I can accept a lot of typos, because I know people are on the run, on a phone and lots of factors are at work. But that’s for comments or messages, not for text that matters, like a note from your doctor, or something related to business. I think it’s sad that it’s being accepted more widely today than in recent years.

      Garden of the Gods pictures tomorrow.

      Liked by 1 person

  23. Amen, Brother Dan, AMEN. Bad spelling and grammar…. argh!!! Someone tried to tell me that it was okay to spell “you’re” as “your” because so many people do it now. WTF?

    Thank you for the stunning, calming photos that brought peace back to my raging heart.

    Liked by 3 people

  24. Dan, you are so write, oops, right 😀. Remember decades ago when it became popular to write about oneself with an i instead of an I? I have to say it is very distressing at the poor writing among teachers. At my school we must communicate to families about their children and our program. I often read and cringe. How does one get through college without writing and grammar skills? Miss Mitchell had my high school English class locked on by tenth grade. So, I side with you on all of this, Dan. Fabulous photos (apologies to Miss Mitchell for an incomplete sentence.)

    Liked by 1 person

  25. Hi Dan – excellent post and my my my is this a topic that can be very individual

    just like Joey once wrote about the lost art of handwriting – the lost art of punctuation might be gone for some folks.

    and my pet peeve is when someone uses capitals wrong – I overlook it all the time – but not for authors,
    recently brought it up to a flat fiction writer – and just asked him why he capitalized that word –
    he wrote back and anyhow, without taking up too much time and without sounding rude – I just mentioned why it should not be.
    whew – but I like who you wrote this:

    Social media is ripe with gps errors and, as most of the content on social media should be, they are often overlooked by a readership that is familiar with smart phones, their tiny keyboards and their insane correction software.

    and this is why I sometimes do not even fix some of my own typos on blog posts – don’t have the time and sometimes just have to say it is not worth the effort for a post that is already past its shlf life – if that makes sense

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Yvette. It is a strange subject. I do feel that attention to detail is slipping away, and that bothers me in general, but mainly because I think it’s across the board. We accept many things in our lives that are faster, cheaper but not quite as good as they once were. This small series of incidents bothered me most because of the way the majority of people on the forum ganged up on the person who was trying to make a valid point. Bad grammar/spelling/punctuation/capitalization/word choice, all effect your credibility in a situation where the writing is more serious. The author she was talking about was trying to motivate people to taking action.

      Dismissing that woman as the “grammar police” was unfortunate.

      The Broadmoor is an amazing place.

      Liked by 1 person

  26. Dan, you know me and my spelling and grammar errors quite well. Some of mine are atrocious, to say the least. Still, I do try to catch all of mine before turning what I have written into the cyber abyss. The skill of writing a person has or doesn’t have can speak volumes to strangers.

    Like

  27. I’m completely enchanted by murging as an alternative spelling. For the love, there are literally MERGE signs. When did she last see a MURGE sign? Bless her heart.
    Anyway, the photos are gorgeous!

    Liked by 1 person

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