This, dat…whateva!

The last couple of weeks I have been busy updating the university style guide — you know the readily available, easily accessible booklet that serves as a “dictionary, a spelling reference, and a guide for basic grammar and punctuation”? A handy journal that helps you understand the difference between its and it’s, use and utilize, their and there. The bible for communication professionals across campus that helps them decipher when to capitalize Professor and when not. Every university has their own style guide, most basing it on either AP Stylebook or Chicago Manual of Style and I frequently see posts on the College and University Editors’ listserv on the use of serial commas, italics or quotations, use of hyphens, etc. It’s like being in this little world of people who are obsessed — anal — about using the English language right.

But outside of that little world is another one — the real world. Where I see instances like these:

(They really are baked “daily.” Courtesy of the “blog” of “unnecessary” quotation marks)

Probably ignorant mistakes, but they make me cringe nevertheless.

And when I get e-mails from cousins in India stating “i rememba all da tymz” and “da best part ov all z u know wat u cant even think dat u soo popular in my family n friends,” I wonder why I, and a handful of other like me, fuss over spellings, grammar, and punctuation at all. Why do we even give a damn?

I understand that in an age of texting and 140-character limits to posting your thoughts, spelling needs to be modified … it’s the need of the medium. But in an e-mail? In a resume? In a cover letter for a job?

It’s sheer laziness.

As Deb Boyken points out in one of her blog posts:

We don’t want to make spelling too hard for everyone, so let’s just drop the standards so everyone can do it.

Or as my cousin lovingly said: “i knw dis passage contains lots ov errors…but errors don matter wen all written frm heart coz heart knows heart makes all sense ov gobbledygook too!!”


I am the style guide police on this campus, but outside its confines, out in the real world, between ignorant mistakes and lazy teenagers there’s nothing I can do about written language’s sad, but sure, demise.




Filed under Personal

7 responses to “This, dat…whateva!

  1. Pingback: Professionalism matters | First Impressions

  2. Pingback: Professionalism matters « First Impressions

  3. Vaishnavi Misra

    I thought It was me myself and I only in this world, apart from a certain class seven teacher at my school, who really cared about the change in the pronunciation of “the”, spoken before a vowel or consonant.
    My loved ones would think I was mad if I corrected anyone or everyone who said “you and me” instead of “you and I.”

    Well I am glad to know that I have company when I squirm at the” trashing of the language.”
    I wonder is everyone just lazy or plain ignorant to use such a beautiful way of expression in its wholeness and wholesomeness.

    Someone advised me that I should teach me son to type and not write since soon there won’t be any need to.

    So do I assume that this exactly what we need to do with
    the spoken word..just let it go….

    • It’s sad…especially when you see reports like these:

      30% of freshman university students fail a ‘simple English test’ at Waterloo University (up from 25% a few years ago. Academic papers are riddled with ‘cuz’ (in place of ‘because’) and even include little emoticon faces. One professor says that students ‘think commas are sort of like parmesan cheese that you sprinkle on your words.’ At Simon Fraser University, 10% of students are not qualified to take the mandatory writing courses.

      It seems to be the unfortunate reality of this day and age and I don’t think we should give up just because it’s hard to do what’s right. Language evolves…that’s its nature, but I think when laziness starts affecting the evolution, we need to sit up and do something about it.

  4. Love your blog and thanks for following mine…I’m following you here as well. A writer all my life, I’m now trying to publish my book, Lessons from the Monk I Married. I can so relate to your quote about spelling. Sometimes rules have to be broken..I break them all the time. Much peace, Kathy

  5. I don’t think we can do anything about that. Lots of my friends are used to talk like this, but when it comes to writing serious stuff they will write it in the very best English. However I am not sure today’s teens will be able to do this in 5-10 years as they simply will forget what standard English is.

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