itsFifteen years ago, when I was taking creative writing courses as Cal State Fullerton, my writing teacher would read two pages of our work a week and provide suggestions.  Having a published author critique your work was, in itself, worth the course tuition.  It was not, however, intended to be editing or proofreading.  Three weeks into the semester, after repeatedly marking in red my misuse of its and it’s, she scrawled this in the margin: The next time I have to correct an its or it’s, I will no longer critique your work.  That night when I got home, taped the page in a place of prominence at my desk where I couldn’t avoid remembering it’s message.  And since then, its very rare that I misuse it’s and its.  I also suffer form a from of local dyslexia … pairs of letters in words routinely switch order as I type, and when the result is still a word … as in form and from … it slips by the spellchecker.  I used to consistently spell beleive incorrectly until someone pointed out the interesting fact that believe … correctly spelled … contained the word lie.  Perfect for politics.  Then there’s your and you’re and their and they’re.  I know the difference but as I’m scrambling to post before the day ends, one sometimes slips by.   You’ve probably noticed.  Hopefully my writing teacher doesn’t follow my blog.  I can see it now.  Comment: If you misuse your or you’re one more time, I’m unfollowing Older Eyes.  And OK, how about commas?  I tend put one, wherever the sentence pauses, in my head.  Hence, my fragmented thinking, makes me a chronic comma overuser.  Although I usually catch my own punctuation and spelling indiscretions immediately after pushing the publish button, I almost never catch them on any of the blogs I read.  That could mean you all are better at this spelling and punctuation game than I am … or that I’m more self-critical than critical.  What are the chances of that?

Unfortunately, as email and texting become the primary mode of human communication, punctuation and spelling are becoming superfluous.  After all, who but a hopeless old curmudgeon bothers with vowels and apostrophes in a text message?  And as self-publishing and professional blogging replace publishing and journalism, careful editing becomes a thing of the past.  When terms like Grammar Nazi and Spelling Nazi begin to show up on the web as a description for people that are obsessed with spelling and grammar, how long before they are used to describe one who merely cares?  What’s a hopeless old curmudgeon to do?   Well, do his best to catch his own indiscretions and to write in English, even when he texts.  And encourage careful use of the language while being tolerant of the miscues of others … and, especially, avoid the phrase, Do you know how stupid that makes you sound?  And enjoy a good laugh when those miscues turn out to be funny.

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8 Comments on “Whoops”

  1. I’m no where near qualified to become a “Nazi grammar” (or speller) person but I do know the difference in how to use most of those homonyms that tend to confuse and then, be ignored too by many folks -my son being a major offender a lot of the time. But, did you by any chance see my post today on Facebook about catastrophe? If not, check it out -really funny (or I thought so anyway!) I could have written that last sentence, ya know, as “It’s really funny.” to show I know that would be a correct way to use that and not write it as its!

    • oldereyes Says:

      Well, I could be a grammar Nazi if I let myself but it’s not a place Ilike to be. I didn’t get a chance to read your FB post but I’ll go read it now. It’s a beautiful day here in Socal and I’m sitting in the park, posting from my cell phone.

  2. territerri Says:

    If it makes you feel better, I have always refused to slip into the acceptable method of texting – bypassing capitalization and punctuation, using creative spelling, etc. I probably also overuse the comma though I’m not sure. No one ever tells me I should ease up. (Also, I’ve recently adapted the occasional use of the oxford comma, so now I use it it even more!)

    There are certain words I cannot seem to spell correctly, such as naive. (There was an extra “e” in there before I checked the spelling and corrected it.) I know the proper use of its and it’s, but oftentimes my fingers get ahead of my brain and the wrong one slips by.

    We haven’t had an official copywriter in my office in a few years. We produce a lot of marketing material and web content, so we need one. I’ve become the go-to person when content needs to be reviewed. I’m always nervous that MY draft is often the final draft. I’m not a professional, just the closest thing we’ve got right now, (which is scary.) Thankfully, we have a formally trained copywriter starting in two weeks. I’m anxious to see what I can learn from him. I mean, I often think I know a lot. Might be interesting to see what I don’t know that I didn’t know.

    • oldereyes Says:

      I am an awful proofreader, particularly of my own material. I tend to see what I meant to write, not what I wrote. Fortunately, I have an associate … who is also my best friend … who is an absolutely meticulous proofreader.

  3. cherperz Says:

    While I understand the need for absolute compliance to rules concerning grammar and punctuation in a classroom setting, it annoys the hell out of me when people pick at personal writings with a critical eye. There was a blog post not long ago, where the writer said she was going to un-follow those blogs that were inherent with faux-pas. I could care less, Bud, if you type there, their, or they’re. I always (well..most always) know what you mean. I don’t give a rat’s patootie if you use a plethora of commas. In fact, sometimes the use of extra punctuation lends the written piece to seem more conversational. I know I misspell and don’t always adhere to the “rules” but my blog is about what I am thinking. My thinking is often erratic and messy. Why would I deconstruct it and clean it up? Then it’s no longer my original thought.

    • oldereyes Says:

      I seem to have been conditioned to be a bit obsessive about punctuation and spelling from an early age. My parents were both formally uneducated but committed to educating themselves. In different times, they would have both gone to college and been very successful. Part of their commitment to self education was being well-spoken and well-written. Using the word “ain’t” in our house was just about as bad as saying “$%#@.” And spending five years in creative writing classes … and especially in critique groups … only honed those tendencies. I think I am only a Grammar or Spelling Nazi with respect to my stuff. I still find myself correcting errors in posts that I posted two or three years ago, and as I said, I rarely see many in others posts.

      As I often do in my posts, I exaggerate my own foibles and eccentricities to entertain. I neither make as many mistakes or worry about them as much as Whoops would suggest. My Inner Curmudgeon, on the other hand …

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