Tuesday, 18 May 2010


To make my desk days whizz by, I often browse around for funny sites that are a great read, so I don't just find myself tweeting constantly like some chronic oversharer [note to some... if you find yourself tweeting the words 'Note to self', stop and think for a moment. You have misunderstood the basic function of Twitter.] Some recent gems I have found include Over the Rainbitch - an endlessly spot-on critique of the Andrew Lloyd Webber casting show - the deliciously dark confessional Postsecret, and the latest, AwkwardFamilyPhotos. This last one is utter genius; people send in anonymous family photos that range from the bizarre to the heavily posed, and we all laugh at them. They are excellently captioned (although the messy blog-style site could do with a makeover) and accompanied by a thread of awkward stories. The stories are more hit and miss, but several, including an intense set of instructions for a family Thanksgiving meal and an equally asphyxiating birthday celebration itinerary, are just brilliant. Although quite America-specific, they celebrate the weirdness of families and their unintentional hilarity.

AFP's creators posted an email a while ago from a reader named Greg, who had sent them some fairly constructive criticism about the website. Unfortunately he had done so with very few words spelt correctly and, unforgivably, even suggested that they re-think their 'righting'. This sparked an epic surge of comments, many mocking the hapless Greg for his idiocy (often ironically in cackhanded online 'righting' themselves) some defending him, lots finding the colossal reaction to a little mispelling completely baffling. I do agree that lots of people suspend accuracy for their internet comments, tweets and statuses, but this was an email, and a formal critique at that. Shouldn't that have warranted a little care? I feel bad for him (and a little admiring, reading his razor-sharp follow-up), but I also feel that even the most valid point is dented when spelling and grammar is abandoned. Not only did the Gregster fail to see the comic potential of his email, but he sounded like a raving hypocrite. Emphasis on the raving.

Spelling and grammar are slipping ever closer to extinction - I read Lynne Truss's Eats, Shoots and Leaves recently and sympathised with her exasperation. I know the wily pair don't come naturally to everyone, so some people have to put more time in and check their writing a little more carefully, but essentially, it's practice. I don't like overly pedantic people [especially vicious little anonymous twerps who comment on my every slip - yes you, arseface] but if we all stopped caring and thought, 'They'll know what I mean", no one would ever write anything compelling. I'm immediately turned off by writing with mistakes in it, from national newspapers to short online comments, and it inevitably undermines the writer's core message because it screams laziness if not stupidity. The immediacy of the internet is a wonderful thing, but how are younger generations going to learn to read and write correctly if such breezy inaccuracy is the norm online? It is vital to most jobs, especially when securing deals and seducing clients via email. In many a magazine office I've worked in, journalists either laugh at or swiftly discard badly spelt or nonsensical press releases; I know PR is a fast-paced environment, but you're selling something - at least run it by the spellcheck.

I would be interested to know which camp people are in: is it only us hardcore language fans still devoted to the preservation of the correctly-placed apostrophe? Do we need to chill out, or do the spelling culprits need to sharpen up? I'm not sure, but I do know I'll be proofreading this one to death.


  1. Outstanding. What are the qualifications for a hardcore language fan? I personally agree with the opinion that 'culture sucks down words'. Twitter (something I refuse to entertain) is highly accountable for the demise of the English Language. By limiting the amount of characters/words that can be used, clarity and brevity of expression are not a natural by-product. Rather they are lost, as too/to/two becomes 2, what becomes wot/wat (1 character?!) and so on. The internet, along with text messaging (which by the way is also weak), may have their benefits, but at what cost?! It distresses me that millions of users worldwide have taken our fine language and mutilated it in such a way. I came very close to losing the plot when an American tried to convince me that colour is spelt color and I really should improve my English seeing as though I am English.

    There is no need to chill out, all spelling culprits (myself most probably included) need to sharpen up. To lower your register is to lower yourself.

    I like the endings to your blog posts. There is an almost manufactured sense of finality, a cinematic conclusion perhaps, and this is a good thing, it's much better than getting to the end of your last sentence and putting a full stop.

  2. Technically you need 'we' rather than 'us' in the first sentence of your last paragraph. But a great post!

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  4. Good to see you’re being mature about your anonymous commenters…who exactly is ‘arseface’ then?! All anons – or just those who don’t love every little perfectly punctuated word you spiel? Hmmm…

  5. Considering your tone, probably you. I'll say it again: I welcome debate, but I am perfectly entitled to retaliate against spite.

  6. GOD, Anonymous, what a total oxygen thief. Get a job mate.

  7. Frustrated regular reader here:

    Anon that posted four posts above me - you are a complete tosser and a waste of space.

    I can't believe you are so pathetic that your life revolves around posting spiteful messages on this blog. Please do all of us who enjoy a proper conversation a HUGE favour, fuck off, and get a job (as evidently you have too much time on your hands).

  8. Anon/Arseface- Seriously, what kind of unfufilling life do you have??You appear to wait around for the next post of a blog you supposedly dont like just to criticise it and not even make a valid point, just something petty and pedantic no one cares about. Get a job, take up a hobby or maybe go and find some friends though you may need to be less of an arse if you want a shot at the last one.

  9. I have a job, just like everyone else probably who has managed to take 2 minutes to read the 'article' and then comment!Amazing that... A life - would that be where you think you're so majorly important that you start an entire website dedicated to your frankly jumped up views on topics from grammar to religion?

  10. Oh, Anonymous, Anonymous. Evidently you're an avid blog reader without actually understanding what a blog is, or an opinion for that matter. I made this website. I write the content - whatever I like, weirdly enough. People browse once and if they enjoy, may come back. You have obviously become addicted to the secret glory of the anonymous comment, and feel compelled to insult me whenever you can.

    But here's the cracking part about the internet - the little 'X' in the top corner. Click it and..... WHOAH! The page has disappeared. No one's making you keep reading. My views probably are the most important thing on my blog, yes - if you find that hard to deal with perhaps start something else, or take it up with your pharmacist.

  11. "would that be where you think you're so majorly important that you start an entire website dedicated to your frankly jumped up views on topics from grammar to religion?"

    So what about the 70million+ other people who have had the 'jumped up' notion to start a blog? Those imbeciles! Thinking anyone would want to read their views on things!

    I don't quite see what Anon is getting out of this - they seem to despise Miss Write's blog (which I rather like, personally) and yet they're determined to come back for each new installment and find something to pick apart. Odd. Its almost like a schoolboy crush - HEY, maybe Anon fancies Miss Write?

    Anyway, back the topic in hand - grammar and spelling on the Internet, and its general misuse, irritate me no end. The odd mistake, made because you're typing quickly and don't have the time to proof-read, fine. But when people write things so illiterate that you can't understand the misguided point they're trying to get across, its frustrating. I recently had an Internet encounter with a woman who was trying to convince me of her daughter's talent and worth on a musical theatre television casting competition; however, this woman, who was old enough to have an 18 year old daughter, wrote a post so full of mistakes I had to pull her up on it - unfortunately this led to other grammarphobes to accuse me of bullying...