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Losing the English language?

Discussion in 'Copywriting' started by foodstr2, Oct 25, 2013.

  1. #1
    (I just joined DigitalPoint, so forgive me if you folks have beaten this subject to death already...)

    As I cruise the 'net, I'm distressed at the misuse of English these days, in spelling, grammar and (usually lack of) punctuation. I often have to read a sentence 2 or 3 times to discover what the author is trying to say!

    Back in 1965, my very first job was as a printer's apprentice in Dunkirk, NY. (This was back in 'hot metal' days when body copy was set in a Linotype or Intertype machine and headlines were handset.) I moved to Jacksonville, FL, in '66 and got an apprenticeship there. (It took 4 years to become a journeyman printer.)

    As part of my education, some 3 months were spent as a proofreader trainee. I had a knack for catching errors and--when I "graduated" to journeyman--the company moved me to company proofreader, full time. It's been my lifelong bane to be bothered by typographical goofs.
    - - - - - - - - - -
    Here are a few, recent examples that I've copied-and-pasted:

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    - - - - - - - - - -

    I REALLY hope our English teachers work harder in their instruction. Or, maybe we just need to turn off the TV and dive into a (well written) book.

    C'mon! YOU know when to use there, their and they're, right?? Or the proper usage of to and too?? Or its and it's??

    In my opinion, those who are trying to sell something will do a lot better if people don't have to figure out what they're trying to say, let alone, what they're selling!
    foodstr2, Oct 25, 2013 IP
    ryan_uk and sarahk like this.
  2. TextServices

    TextServices Active Member

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    #2
    English is a second, third or fourth language for many posters here...

    and yes... there are some people where English is their mother tongue and their posts are full of errors. Posts on a forum do not have to be perfect, but they shouldn't look like an 8 year old kid wrote them. Especially from those people where English is their first (or only language) and they are providing a service or selling an item.
    TextServices, Oct 25, 2013 IP
  3. Vlasic

    Vlasic Active Member

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    #3
    My guess is the lion's share of that 'content' was created by non-native speakers who spin content and skip proofreading.
    Sadly, the tendency of language level decline and slide into a simplified slang can be observed in other languages, too. After all, a transition from high language to low language is a fact that linguistics observes on a large scale and from a historical perspective. We may not like it, but the language of the barely educated is on the market, outnumbering the regular to high quality content. They charge little, work fast and pollute Internet. Alas, there is nothing we can do. Some say Google penalizes poor quality websites. I have yet to see tons of payday loan garbage go down.
    Vlasic, Oct 26, 2013 IP
  4. XPEric

    XPEric Active Member

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    #4
    I find that non-English speakers (where English was not their first language) type better English than most people in the US. Pretty sad really.
    XPEric, Oct 26, 2013 IP
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  5. averyz

    averyz Well-Known Member

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    #5
    Depends what you read. Trash sites have trash content.

    Many sites are going broke, I read news papers every morning most of them are bankrupt and they "hire" college "interns" to write the local news blurbs. Their writing is full of mistakes because they just jot down some stuff on the way to _____ . They don't get paid so they don't care.

    Some sites out there still pay writers and have some great thought out pieces, but you have to pay people to sit down and do good work.

    Your reading and comprehension skills must be rather blurry or you have not spent much time on the internet.


    .
    averyz, Oct 28, 2013 IP
  6. XPEric

    XPEric Active Member

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    #6
    No, I spend a lot of time on the internet and moderate a handful of forums. I know people from the Netherlands, Switzerland, and a handful of other countries. All can speak/type perfect English.
    XPEric, Oct 28, 2013 IP
  7. sarahk

    sarahk iTamer Staff

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    #7
    I have a huge respect for anyone who can do more than order a beer in a second language so I have no issue with those who struggle to make themselves understood. I do take issue with those who think it's cool, are too lazy to write well or so young they think it doesn't matter. They will all learn.
    sarahk, Oct 28, 2013 IP
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  8. foodstr2

    foodstr2 Member

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    #8
    I wasn't thinking of ESLers (English as a Second Language) when I started this ... never occurred to me, actually. Their posts are pretty obvious, IMO, and--as Sarah said, above--I can't even order a Coke in another language, so I have respect for those 'foreigners' who can get any idea across in English.

    A few years back, I bought the domain, LANGUAGEFIX.COM, built a simple website, and sent some direct emails to offenders, offering to repair their websites dirt cheap (I mean, like two to ten bucks per page) ... but got no takers, so I let it die. Every now-and-then I get the urge to resurrect it as my disappointment with websites grows .... Or, I guess I could abandon the 'net and just watch reruns of Frasier and How It's Made.... Which (for some reason) reminds me: Things are "different from" other things, not "different than" other things. Anybody else remember that one from Middle School?
    foodstr2, Nov 5, 2013 IP
  9. foodstr2

    foodstr2 Member

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    #9
    Dan,
    Are you related to the Vlasic Pickle magnate?? (I love their pickles!)
    foodstr2, Nov 5, 2013 IP
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  10. Vlasic

    Vlasic Active Member

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    #10
    :) I love their pickles, too! Unfortunately, no relation.
    Vlasic, Nov 5, 2013 IP
  11. sarahk

    sarahk iTamer Staff

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    #11
    @foodstr2 - you'd enjoy Oatmeal's work then :)
    sarahk, Nov 5, 2013 IP
  12. Conran

    Conran Active Member

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    #12
    Absolutely agree.
    It's far more depressing to see people here in the UK and US commenting all over the internet with such poor English skills. It really isn't so remarkable that so many young people are out of work, or the only thing they're good for is taking orders at McDonalds. I don't know what the problem is, surely education hasn't slipped that far in the years since I was a teenager. I wonder if it's because too many kids these days waste their time dreaming of becoming a contestant on American Idol and think the ability to read and write isn't a requirement? :)
    Conran, Nov 17, 2013 IP
  13. averyz

    averyz Well-Known Member

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    #13
    Just because someone doesn't have writing skills doesn't mean they are stupid, won't find a job or will work at McDonalds. Many top professions are know for poor writing doctors, airplane pilots, property developers, just to name a couple.

    No person can learn all skills and for some writing is not a valuable skill in the profession they are in.

    I hear this type of talk in many professions the car mechanic says "engineers are so stupid they cannot even change a spark plug" The don't need to they make 200k a year.
    The plumber says "lawyers are so dumb they cannot even replace a sink" why would they they make $300. an hour a plumber makes $70.

    If others don't have their skill they see as valuable the other are lower ? Even if their skill is not worth much.

    averyz, Nov 17, 2013 IP
  14. Conran

    Conran Active Member

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    #14
    Having been in a position to employ people, and seeing the vetting process at more than one company, I can say for a fact that I have seen more than 50 young people turned away from basic employment because thy wrt in txt spk.

    I am not kidding, at my last job we (as senior managers) would be tasked with going through all the applications before HR wanted to look at them because they couldn't be bothered to waste their time throwing out the ones who can barely write their own names.

    I'm not talking about people who can't write clearly with a pen, or the people who drop an apostrophe here and miss one there, I'm talking about the many thousands of young people who really can't fill out an application form without replacing "you" with "U" and "people" with "ppl". Yes, these kids really are out there, and there are potentially millions of them who will not be able to get a decent job unless they go back to school and learn English.
    Conran, Nov 17, 2013 IP
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  15. Conran

    Conran Active Member

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    #15
    I also should add that basic literacy is not an "optional extra" when it comes to skills. Being able to write legibly in your own native language should not be considered a "skill", the fact that it is being suggested as such shows just how far we have slipped.

    Being able to speak another language, being able to read Latin, or having an ability to create fiction, those are real language skills. Being able to write a sentence in proper English is not a skill, it's a necessity for someone in an English speaking country.
    Conran, Nov 17, 2013 IP
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  16. Cone Man

    Cone Man Active Member

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    #16
    But
    But coming from an English speaking country, you have no excuse to speak like that. It's your home language, for goodness sake. You don't see some people hopping around on one foot because they never learnt to walk properly. It's pure laziness, nothing else.

    If English is a second language, some mistakes can be excused, obviously.
    Cone Man, Nov 17, 2013 IP
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  17. averyz

    averyz Well-Known Member

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    #17
    Some people don't really see out of their own world.

    You obviously see writing as some benchmark in your own head. Too bad for you it is only a personal.

    Like I said writing is not a skill valued in all professions and many of very successful people have very poor writing skills. And many talented writers are out fo work begging for low paying jobs.

    averyz, Nov 17, 2013 IP
  18. Conran

    Conran Active Member

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    #18
    Being able to write a sentence in your native language is not a "benchmark"!

    This is a ludicrous notion, and I cannot believe I am actually debating this on a forum, especially in a thread about writing.

    It's not only personal belief, this is a fact of the world we live in. If an employer is looking for someone to fill a role, and they have a person with an application in txt spk and another in clear, legible English, who the hell are they going to employ?

    It's a fact that if you cannot write or read properly in your native language your options are extremely limited. Where does the illiterate teen go when they lose their low paying job at McDonalds? Where does the college graduate go when they lose their high paying job? One is not equal to the other. The literate college grad can learn plenty of other skills because they have the ability to read and write properly, while the person who can barely read or write will be stuck.

    Literacy is the building block of everything else when it comes to learning.
    Conran, Nov 17, 2013 IP
  19. averyz

    averyz Well-Known Member

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    #19
    It's not "laziness". Like I said earlier people cannot learn everything. A doctor goes to school 6yrs gets out and usually writes like horrible, because they have spent 60hrs a week learning other skills, same with many other professions.

    averyz, Nov 17, 2013 IP
  20. Conran

    Conran Active Member

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    #20
    Actually, I have it on good authority that doctors write like that because they have spent years in a high stress environment where speed is a requirement. They often have to go through extremely long shifts writing out reports and prescriptions for patients. It has nothing to do with not being able to read or write properly, this is about presentation and force of habit.

    Do you really think a doctor would have even gained entry to medical school if they wrt lk ths? In order to even get in you need to write papers and essays, this is not the kind of thing someone with little understanding of their own language would be capable of.

    I think you are confusing the art of legible writing with the core ability to spell. They are certainly not the same thing.
    Conran, Nov 17, 2013 IP
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