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Is it really that difficult to write proper?

December 18, 2012

OK, I know I am setting myself up to be shot down in flames, but please can companies make an effort with their grammar and punctuation? I get it that the language is living and evolving, but when a company is trying to make a good impression and writing to me or advertising to me, then I think it helps to get the basics right.

I didn’t learn it at school, being a child of a state comprehensive education in the permissive 60s and 70s when all that grammar bollox got thrown out and self expression came in.

Luckily of course I had a mother who was articualte and educated (not to mention elocuted – is that possible to make in to a verb?) and I write as I speak having been corrected numerous times over the years.

My memory is of being stunned at the usage of English by my classmates when I moved to Wales from Scotland. Lend and borrow were not opposite ends of the same transaction as borrow didn’t exist. “Can I lend your ruler?” Well no actually , as you don’t own it.

And nobody put ‘ly’ on the end of adverbs (are they adverbs – see I don’t know the theory), but you know the descriptive words – beautifully, properly, quietly.

I get that it’s not important and I try not to judge individuals based on their grammmar or accent  – hell my accent is so far up the yokel tree I am possibly a scarecrow – but  bad  grammar grates with me, particularly when written down in official material. That and this never ending obsession of making up new verbs (see my own attempt above!) – but  today I got an email telling me someone who had got internal promotion  was  ‘starting the on-boarding process’.  Whatever the fuck that might be. I normally just walk in the front door, but perhaps when you get to the really high echelons there is a special ritual you have to get through every day just to get in to work.

I find efforts to try to posh up writing usually end in disaster. The excruciating misuse of ‘yourself’ as in “I would welcome the opportunity to discuss this with yourself”. With you, you ignorant twat, with you. It makes me feel that I don’t want to discuss anything with you. Which of course is completely over the top, so I try to reign it in when it is a simple request from a client rather than a missive from a company trying to sell me something.

But none of it as bad as the bilingual road sign that was erected in Wales. Swansea council had emailed for a translation from English in to Welsh and duly made their sign using the reply they got. Unfortunately it read ‘ I am not in the office at the moment. Send any work to be translated.’

In Welsh is an out of office auto reply. Very helpful!

And as our daughter pointed out, you either know your shit or you should know you’re shit.

There’s a gaping chasm of a difference.

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8 Responses to “Is it really that difficult to write proper?”

  1. Michaela Vogt Says:

    You are so right, but at least people stick to one language. In Germany people use English words, very cool, but they give them German conjugation endings, which really spoils the whole language. And another thing that really annoys me are the spelling mistakes in all the newspapers! Sometimes there are long sentences and the verb is missing, so it does not make any sense at all. Computers can only correct single words, but not whole phrases.

  2. BOTR Says:

    I also find the misuse of “yourself” to be very annoying, as well as “myself” (i.e. “Please call Mr. Charles or myself if you have any questions.”). So annoying, especially when it comes from people who like to consider themselves smart and educated.

    [i found this link when I searched for “misuse of ‘yourself'” on Google.]

  3. georgiemcclarke Says:

    Hahahaha I love that you so obviously have gone to great lengths to make sure you capitalise and spell correctly, because the usual sarahspoutsoff style is quite different…! I completely agree though. Especially the ‘yourself’ and ‘myself’ thing – do people think it makes them sound more intelligent?!


    • managed a bloody typo on the fb link tho!! And yes, there is no spellcheck or grammar check on this free wordpress so I did read it through a number of times before I posted it!! xx

  4. Judith Todd Says:

    Thank you Sarah for making us smile on a Monday afternoon!


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