Composing a post for your blog? Writing an email to a colleague? Here are a couple of tips:
The letter “r” is not a verb.
The letter “u” is not a pronoun.
It doesn’t surprise me when blog posts or emails have this sort of embedded “text-speak.” Nor does it surprise me to find them riddled with bad syntax, incoherent thoughts, and errors both typographic and grammatical. It saddens me that those intent on communicating via the written word don’t have the sense (or self-respect) to proofread what they’ve written before they hit “send,” but it doesn’t surprise me.
What does surprise me is when I come across the same in posts on writers’ discussion boards. What does surprise me is when a writer doesn’t catch his own mistake when he writes “Art thou saint or satin?” And it goes beyond surprise when, as I saw the other day, a presenter of a TED talk repeatedly used the letter “r” as a verb in his Powerpoint presentation.
If you want your words to be taken seriously, stick close to the standards of writing. In speech or in the written word, if you consistently flout the accepted standards of spelling, grammar, and composition, your words, your thoughts, sometimes even you as a person, will be discounted, diminished, or totally ignored by the world at large.
I shouldn’t have to use a secret decoder ring to translate a writer’s words into comprehensible English.
In fact, I won’t. And I’m not alone.
I’m not being a grammar Nazi or a writerly snob. I’m not asking for high-falutin’ rhetoric or exquisite imagery. I’m asking for comprehensible grammar and correct spelling. Allowances for hurriedly written texts and non-native English speakers aside, a writer must strive for quality in the written word. You can only blame your iPhone’s predictive spelling function for so much.
In the end, if you don’t mind looking like an idiot because you don’t know the difference between “satin” and “Satan,” fine.
Just don’t expect me to take you seriously at the same time.