I wasn’t going to write this post. Anytime I argue for correct spelling and grammar, someone either tells me not to be so picky or to quit being stuck up, a nerd, a pain, etc. Two words I hate that have been used multiple times in my presence: “Nobody cares.”
However, then I got my JC Penney catalog this month and saw this page. Note the grammatical error.
I’m sure it was intended. You can’t tell me that every little detail of this catalog (as with most stores’ catalogs) isn’t scrutinized repeatedly before it is published and sent out. (If it isn’t, shame on them.)
The idea that it was intended is what makes me angry.
Number one, the page is aimed at older folks. The phrase is something you’d see aimed at a younger generation (who obviously doesn’t care if they leave out words and/or were never told it was wrong). You really think that an older generation, who often utter phrases like “those damn kids” and “What is wrong with the world today?” is going to respond well to something like this?
Number two, I had to reread the sentence a couple times to really get what they were trying to say. When I read something that is worded wrong, uses improper grammar and spelling, and/or uses texting abbreviations, it takes me longer to read it and for my brain to fully understand it. It can’t just be me that this happens to, so I’m guessing it’s not an uncommon occurrence in the world.
Is my grammar perfect? No. I try. I try really hard, if only to make sure that the point I’m trying to get across is clear. Clarity is important. There are too many ways already for something you have said or written to be misconstrued.
That’s why the article in Wired magazine earlier this month by Anne Trubek makes me angry. We’re supposed to give up on clarity and allow even more possibilities for people to infer the wrong ideas and messages from what we’re writing and saying?
“Consistent spelling was a great way to ensure clarity in the print era,” Trubek wrote. “But with new technologies, the way we write and read … is changing, and so much spelling.”
It’s a faulty argument there, in my mind. I agree with Grammar Girl and Lee Simmons’ assessment.
“… computers are pretty bad at figuring out what we mean from context,” Grammar Girl wrote in her blog post, “so good spelling is actually more important in the digital world, not less.”
Just because people are doing something doesn’t make it right. There is a place for texting and twitter abbreviations: in texts and on Twitter. It’s not in published work.