Monday, February 1, 2010

Snob? I Wouldn't Say That

OK, I'm a writer, right? So friends send me things they've written and ask me to look them over, edit, proof and maybe spruce them up. It's something I'm proud of, as I do this in daily life (though I try not to do it when it's unsolicited), so to be asked makes me feel a little less like I'm being a word snob and more like my editing skills are valued. After all, everyone needs to read and write. Like any endeavor, don't we want to do so to the best of our abilities?

Apparently not.

I'm not talking about fifth graders here, or even adults with limited educational opportunities. I'm talking about professional adults in finance companies, college students who edit literary magazines and graduate students in writing programs in charge of the quarterly newsletters.

"Mr. X spoke with your wife whom stated..."

"It donned on me that if we want to encourage..., than it would be good to..."

"In this vain, we felt a strong..."

Commas where there should be periods. Capitalized words that should be lower case. Misspelled contributors' names in the table of contents. And these are just a few examples.

Am I being too nitpicky?

I suppose I'm really lamenting the decline of the publishing industry, with so many good writers and editors being let go in the name of saving money. Books aren't being published, not because they have no literary merit, but because they won't be blockbuster sellers with movie options. Newspapers are thinner, their articles more likely to contain errors (I've seen many as I am still a daily subscriber).

Perhaps this is a testament to the disorder of our priorities as a society. "It's only worthwhile if it makes money." "Quantity, not quality, is what matters most." It really seems that literacy is going the way of the payphone. With email, texts and tweets being the most common ways news is passed from person to person, is it any wonder we don't care about spelling or grammar anymore? Too many characters to worry about! Just get the jist of your message across!

Don't get me wrong. I love the new technologies that enable us to access and send information from anywhere in the world. It is now possible for even the laymen, in addition to paid writers and journalists, to share their words and messages with thousands of people at once. But to me, that's just one more reason why the message should be legible and accurate.


Veggie Mom said...

I cringe when I see (sea?) these mistakes. It's instead of its, their/there/they're, no one who (whom) knows how to distinguish between number and amount. Keep fighting the good fight. Or is that the gooder fight?

Geri said...

It's really scary when people and as you say, some very educated people, can not string a few words together correctly. (Now, of course, I'm paranoid that my comment here is not grammatically correct!)