Can we stop pointing out spelling errors? November 7, 2002 11:44 AM   Subscribe

A thread about one's attitude turned into a brief argument about spelling protocol, and it reminded me of a recent annoyance that I've seen on a few threads: can we stop with the posts that are nothing but mentioning a spelling error? Odds are if you saw it everyone else did, and if you have to have the honor of being the first to point it out, could you at least pretend to not just be cluttering the thread by actually contributing to the conversation as well?
posted by XQUZYPHYR to Etiquette/Policy at 11:44 AM (92 comments total)

I'm guilty of making spelling errors myself, and in no way am I saying that spell check is bad. It's just that everyone has been talking about how clutter posts are what are making this board annoying recently, and I think that a post which is the alerting of the error- and only that- is clutter. Like I said, if you were quick enough to see the typo, then most likely a lot of others did too, and unless it was so grave as to make the thread illegible, can't it just be saved for a post in which you actually want to talk about the thread itself?
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 11:47 AM on November 7, 2002


I thought Metatalk to be pretty recursive itself, but this post as meta-recursive vapor is striking.
posted by four panels at 11:54 AM on November 7, 2002


vaper. vee ay pee eee ar. vaper.
posted by quonsar at 11:58 AM on November 7, 2002


[sarcasm] ...to not just be cluttering the thread...

Splitting infinitives is very bad form, my friend. [/sarcasm]
posted by Shane at 12:01 PM on November 7, 2002


Odds are if you saw it everyone else did,

Comma fault.

posted by mischief at 12:05 PM on November 7, 2002


If you make a spelling error, you should be banned for one week. Also, everyone who points out the spelling error will be banned for one week.
posted by corpse at 12:07 PM on November 7, 2002


Comma fault.

If it's a short sentence it's perfectly acceptable to leave it out, especially if it's going to be followed by some more clauses.

At least that's what I was told; not that I don't, however, use commas almost as often as humanly, or even mechanically, possible, you see, because I, like many before me, have no regard for common sense, a trait many possess but few master.
posted by The God Complex at 12:09 PM on November 7, 2002


How about, point it out to the person in a helpful manner, and don't be a dick about it? Do we really need new guidelines on not being a dick?
posted by adampsyche at 12:10 PM on November 7, 2002


Do we really need new guidelines on not being a dick?

Yes! An entire page entitled "How Not To Be a Dick"! Why didn't we think of that sooner!
And people who split infinitives will be forced to write out 2 chapters of Strunk and White on the blackboard.

posted by Shane at 12:14 PM on November 7, 2002


Ha! Analyzing my thread about grammar by checking the grammar on it! Good one! Didn't see that coming! (And the circle is complete as a post about people rushing to make the most obvious post rush to make the most obvious post)

four panels, I blame my own ignorance completely here, but I literally do not understand any part of your post whatsoever. Please imagine me, sitting here, with a large fluffy cloud over my head, a gigantic question mark held within.
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 12:20 PM on November 7, 2002


How Not To Be a Dick
posted by mischief at 12:35 PM on November 7, 2002


XQ, I understand your feelings, but:

1) If this thread actually gets around to discussing the ethics of pointing out spelling errors, it will simply replicate earlier threads, so... why?

2) everyone has been talking about how clutter posts are what are making this board annoying recently
Posts. Not comments, posts. You're bringing up comments. There's a big difference. Standards are much lower for commenting; the front page is supposed to exhibit higher standards.
Including, in my opinion, better spelling.
posted by languagehat at 12:38 PM on November 7, 2002


How To Be A Huge Dick
posted by quonsar at 12:45 PM on November 7, 2002


For a second I thought quonsar's link was going to be pornographic in nature.
posted by The God Complex at 12:48 PM on November 7, 2002


it's NOT!?!?!???
posted by quonsar at 12:52 PM on November 7, 2002


Posts. Not comments, posts.

I was going to point that out, but I didn't want to be a Dick.

XQ-letters-person, we all get your point, though. less snarkiness is a good thing, and no one wants to read all kinds of comments on spelling (especially when most mistakes are just typo's).
posted by Shane at 12:53 PM on November 7, 2002


typo's

Plus we'd be here all day. Everyone makes mistakes--and I seem to make more when I'm typing in an input box like the ones used to post to message boards. I think the amount of line breaks makes it harder to read fluidly through a sentence when typing instead of scanning over words.

Then again, I seem to miss a lot in preview, too.
posted by The God Complex at 1:03 PM on November 7, 2002


hat- by clutter posts I meant comments. I have a habit of referring to everything posted here as a post, i.e. FPPs and posts as opposed to posts and comments. Sorry for the misunderstanding. As for the ethics thing... I'm not saying that it shouldn't be pointed out, I just think that always seeing a two or three-word post (comment) at the top of the thread reeks of "FIRST!"
posted by XQUZYPHYR at 1:14 PM on November 7, 2002


Shane, XQ: Just to be perfectly clear: I wasn't correcting XQ's usage, which would have been being a dick, I was pointing out that there was a disconnect between what "everyone" has been complaining about (front page posts) and what he was quoting as examples (comments), which I hope was a substantive contribution. I try to fight my natural instincts to be picky.
posted by languagehat at 1:49 PM on November 7, 2002


There's a lot of dicks in this thread.
posted by adampsyche at 2:03 PM on November 7, 2002


languagehat, I wasn't trying to be a dick about you're being a dick... I mean, about you're not being a dick... I was just pointing out that I had already been a sarcastic dick and didn't want to be anymore dickly.

No worries. I think the distinction between posts and comments is important, too.
posted by Shane at 2:06 PM on November 7, 2002


Speaking of dicks....

Not one of my prouder moments on Mefi and I never understood this person's need to do a take-down on me.

We are what we write. I've heard it all before. If this were a resume, I'd be damn sure to spell check it a few hundred times before hitting send. But it's not.

I've re-read the FAQs and guidelines and cannot find the part that says I have to be an english major to make posts or comments.

Still looking...
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 2:21 PM on November 7, 2002


Defensive?
posted by timeistight at 2:29 PM on November 7, 2002


dick3
posted by nthdegx at 2:31 PM on November 7, 2002


Defensive?

No, not at all. I rather enjoy being called out by sniveling little pricks who have nothing better to do than point out flaws in my spelling.

On the other hand, I could just be a dick.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 2:44 PM on November 7, 2002


Dick: 1, 2
posted by jazon at 2:56 PM on November 7, 2002


How nice that this lovely discussion pushed the discussion of wether or not Metafilter has a future off of the page. Oh sorry, I'm just being a dic duck dcik idck dick
posted by jonah at 3:08 PM on November 7, 2002


Phew, trying to dodge through the barrage of flying dicks here-- the partner wouldn't take too kindly to me messing around on him.

For what it's worth, Kevin, I think Zekinskia was being an enormous prick. Most of us do have certain words that we seem to have mental blocks-- a large percentage have trouble with "separate" (there is a rat in separate) while separate is about the only word I get consistently (Me yelling out loud to partner: "Is it dee-scribe or dis-scribe?")

What is really unfortunate is worrying about piddly little crap like this when much bigger problems are hanging over us like Damocles' sword.

So here's my opinion. No callouts on spelling unless the person misspells the word 3 times in a row and then a gentle aside accompanying a comment on-topic is allowed. Plus you get to email misspellers any time you wish. Plus anyone who makes a gross number of mistakes on a front page post (thereby making the said post a Comedy of Errors) may be asked nicely to come to Metatalk to get an ass-whuppin.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 3:39 PM on November 7, 2002


If the correction is made good naturedly and as an aside, not as a snarky comment, I don't see it as much of a problem.

I'd rather someone point it out to me than me continue making the same mistakes.
posted by The God Complex at 4:15 PM on November 7, 2002


Any time I make one of my all-to-frequent clams, you may all point it out as snarkily as you like.
posted by timeistight at 4:33 PM on November 7, 2002


I might point out that when I spotted a horrendous typo once in a post I emailed Matt and he graciouslt changed it. That might work here.
posted by feelinglistless at 4:46 PM on November 7, 2002


*Don't do it. Don't do it. Don't do it. Don't do it. *
posted by timeistight at 4:54 PM on November 7, 2002


How nice that this lovely discussion pushed the discussion of wether or not Metafilter has a future off of the page. Oh sorry, I'm just being a dic duck dcik idck dick

I feel like a big duck for even starting this whole thing. My point was that I see nothing wrong with pointing out spelling errors (I would like to have mine pointed out to me) as long as you're being cool about it, in the spirit of being helpful rather than a...dick.

And that's whether.

*ducks*
posted by adampsyche at 5:04 PM on November 7, 2002


Metafilter taught me not to care about spelling errors - including my own. I used to point them out but nowadays I find those little post-comments quite annoying, unless they're done in jest (i.e. jokingly referring to obvious typos) - and even more so when they correct one mistake and leave others standing; a common comportment.

Spell Check is a bit like MetaTalk - most people appreciate it being there, but don't bother using it. And those that do bother, do so to excess.

I'm always reminded of rodii's brilliant remark that the Post button was, in reality, a button intended to Reveal Typos.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 5:16 PM on November 7, 2002


I have never understood the dismissive nature some people appear to have in regards to poor grammar and spelling. If someone typed 2+2=6, it would be wrong. There isn't a middle ground. Likewise, when someone spells something wrong or uses the incorrect grammar, people seem to think others are being pedantic, as opposed to pointing out that an error was made.

There are, of course, exceptions. British and Australian spelling can be quite different to that of the United States, which is expected and understood. In addition, typos often occur, and everyone is allowed to make those mistakes. But to simply dismiss the rules surrounding the English language and written word, acting as if they are meaningless, is pointless.

My grammar, writing and spelling are not flawless, and I appreciate when people bring any errors to my attention. How else does one learn how to not make those same mistakes in the future? A blaise' and indignant attitude about how we allow others to view us, is a shame.
posted by cyniczny at 5:21 PM on November 7, 2002


I appreciate when people bring any errors to my attention. How else does one learn how to not make those same mistakes in the future? A blaise'

Well, "not to make" would not-to-split the infinitive, but we already beat that one to death. Much appreciated if someone would explain to me how to HTML the accent above the "e" in "blase," though.
posted by Shane at 5:53 PM on November 7, 2002


Except, cyniczny, "proper" spelling and official grammar are relatively modern, and totally artificial, whereas the rules of math are universal and effectively beyond reproach. There is no middle ground, as you point out, with math, but with English you just can't make the same claims.

Whenever I hear someone being lambasted for going against the dictionary, or Strunk & White, I think of Chaucer:

Ye knowe ek that in forme of speche is chaunge
Withinne a thousand yeer, and wordes tho
That hadden pris, now wonder nyce and straunge
Us thinketh hem, and yet they spake hem so,
And spedde as wel in love as men now do;
Ek for to wynnen love in sondry ages
In sondry londes, sondry ben usages.

The only standard is what is acceptable to the audience you are trying to communicate to. If everybody here at Metafilter wanted everything spelled a certain way, then okay, defer to the majority, but what I'm hearing is that most people think it's just nitpicky.
posted by Hildago at 5:55 PM on November 7, 2002


Nitpicking cyniczny's comment, just for the hell of it:

Apart from blasé and not blaisé, you really shouldn't place a comma before and in:

typos often occur, and everyone...

My grammar, writing and spelling are not flawless, and I....

Funnily enough, since your punctuation is faultless, the commas before and stand out more. ;)
posted by MiguelCardoso at 5:59 PM on November 7, 2002


Except, cyniczny, "proper" spelling and official grammar are relatively modern, and totally artificial, whereas the rules of math are universal and effectively beyond reproach.

Fajsdjalj firpemrn, photr gfjeneuy te.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 6:05 PM on November 7, 2002


My grammar, writing and spelling are not flawless, and I appreciate when people

In fact, it should be:

Although my grammar, writing and spelling aren't flawless, I appreciate it when people...

Teehee! For the record, cyniczny is one of my favourite writers here on MetaFilter and I agree with what he say here. Norms might change but, at any one time, there is a norm or something approaching it (perhaps one admissible variation) which should be followed.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 6:07 PM on November 7, 2002


I mean "what he or she says". ;)
posted by MiguelCardoso at 6:33 PM on November 7, 2002


Perhaps the stupidest newbie thing I've done so far on MeFi was to make a grammar suggestion to dear clavdivs. I really just didn't get it, I guess...

...you really shouldn't place a comma before and in:
Using a comma with a conjunction linking two fairly long but strongly related sentences is a judgement call. Not sure I get the "Although" thing, either. You drinking, Miguel? ; )
Enough grammar. Goodnight...

posted by Shane at 6:41 PM on November 7, 2002


Good thing I prepared myself to have my comments dissected for proper grammar and spelling, or I'd be a little hurt right now!

All kidding aside, thanks to Hildago, who actually responded to the content of my comment and made a good point.

A hearty appreciation for the others who corrected my errors. Yes, I'm serious.

Oh, Miguel? Chicks can be cynical, too, mate.
posted by cyniczny at 6:52 PM on November 7, 2002


Not sure I get the "Although" thing, either. You drinking, Miguel? ; )

Well, I've certainly served myself a large gin and tonic now, Shane. The although is to prevent two ands in the same sentence, as if you didn't know. ;)

cyniczny: Oh I know, believe me!

posted by MiguelCardoso at 7:06 PM on November 7, 2002


If someone typed 2+2=6, it would be wrong. There isn't a middle ground.
bad analogy. math is unchanging yes. 2+2 will always = 6. writed and speekt langwaj howevr be is alwy evolving.
posted by quonsar at 7:15 PM on November 7, 2002


I believe I can be the nitpickiest dick of all. Chaucer's quote about the mutability of language above misspells his spelling of "thei". Hah!
posted by liam at 7:19 PM on November 7, 2002


Perhaps the stupidest newbie thing I've done so far on MeFi was to make a grammar suggestion to dear clavdivs

I nedd al that thar hep iz can get,

(really i do)
It boils down to laziness, for me at least. Though, i can eek out a proper sentence or two when necessary. I also lit a candle when matt reinstalled the spell check.
(cracks open the Turabian)
posted by clavdivs at 7:23 PM on November 7, 2002


Hildago, good thing you are so flexible or you'd hae been driven beyond madness with the manglification of your name.

Thanks for the Chaucer. Here's a translation for any that didn't quite get the old english:
Y3 kn0w3 3k 7h47 in f0rm3 0f sp3ch3 is ch4ung3
Wi7hinn3 4 7h0us4nd y30r, 4nd w0rd3s 7h0
7h47 h4dd3n pris, n0w w0nd0r nyc3 4nd s7r4ung3
Us 7hink37h h3m, 4nd y37 7h3y sp4k3 h3m s0,
4nd sp3dd3 4s w31 in 10v3 4s m3n n0w d0;
3k f0r 70 wynn3n 10v3 in s0ndry 4g3s
In s0ndry 10nd3s, s0ndry b3n us4g3s.

posted by madamjujujive at 7:33 PM on November 7, 2002


For what it's worth, Kevin, I think Zekinskia was being an enormous prick. Most of us do have certain words that we seem to have mental blocks-- a large percentage have trouble with "separate" (there is a rat in separate) while separate is about the only word I get consistently (Me yelling out loud to partner: "Is it dee-scribe or dis-scribe?")

Thanks Gravy. Obviously it happened a while back (in MeFI years) so I should get over it, but it was like getting slapped in the face considering the tone of that thread. Since then, I've had my share of spelling errors and haven't been called out at all. I actually wouldn't mind being corrected in an email but in public it just seems shrill.

Thank you all for the Dicks. Nice to have a good laugh or two.
posted by KevinSkomsvold at 7:45 PM on November 7, 2002


I can't believe no one has taken him up on it yet.

Thanks for the clams, timeistight!
posted by yhbc at 7:52 PM on November 7, 2002


MetaFilter: Fajsdjalj firpemrn, photr gfjeneuy te.
posted by timeistight at 7:57 PM on November 7, 2002


yhbc: okay. Hmm...er...ahh...I don't get it!?
posted by timeistight at 7:59 PM on November 7, 2002


yhbc, I was going to question the clams thing too, but figured it was some in-joke I wasn't aware of and didn't want to look dumb :-}
posted by dg at 9:17 PM on November 7, 2002


Shh. He'll figure it out sooner or later, and then we can really put the knife in.
posted by yhbc at 9:41 PM on November 7, 2002


Oh Miguel, that's not grammar. That's just taste I like solid syntax as much as the next Mefite, but demanding an elegant prose style sets the bar too high for me.

eeeeeeeeeek. Imagine ProseFilter. It would read like an 18th century "table talk".

Sir, you have posted doubly, and your offensive effusions smack of news.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 10:27 PM on November 7, 2002


Aaaagh! There needs to be a fullstop after "taste".

The 2001 Stoneleigh Riesling is rather good, you know.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 10:28 PM on November 7, 2002


A bit late in the game perhaps, but Miguel, I think I'm with you in that I am very tempted to correct people when they make an obvious error (my favorites are there/their/they're and its/it's, which few people seem to get right), but am trying to restrain myself, because few seem to take it in the spirit in which its (just kidding) offered.

Perhaps, in any case, it's just the job coming through, as my livelihood at least partially depends on wrangling with others' ungrammatical prose.
posted by lackutrol at 10:42 PM on November 7, 2002


Grammar, however, I am brilliant at...
posted by nthdegx at 11:36 PM on November 7, 2002


Grammar is the last refuge of an uninspiring writer.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 11:38 PM on November 7, 2002


(Uh, I was just mock-pontificating there, not abusing anyone. Honest.)
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 12:14 AM on November 8, 2002


You're all obtuse.
posted by The God Complex at 12:37 AM on November 8, 2002


I prefer abstruse.
posted by walrus at 2:11 AM on November 8, 2002


i can eek out a proper sentence or two when necessary.

Yes, clavdivs, but no need--you have your own style. Telling you to capitalize the first word of a sentence is like telling ee cummings to capitalize the word "i".
posted by Shane at 5:46 AM on November 8, 2002


Well, I've certainly served myself a large gin and tonic now, Shane.
Don't mind me. After all these years I think I finally have commas down to a science--but I'm sure the mighty shall tumble the next time someone edits me!

posted by Shane at 5:49 AM on November 8, 2002


"Dick, Dick, Dick, Dick, Dick"

"How many dicks is that?"

"A lot."
posted by jonmc at 6:02 AM on November 8, 2002


Spelling errors are thought errors; therefore, I save myself a lot of time and hassle by simply not reading any commentors who consistently make them. If someone can't be bothered to form and express his thoughts clearly, why should I be bothered to pay them any mind?

(Hint: This is the point where someone jumps in with the "think of the dyslexics!" rebuttal.)

*campaigns for the position of MeFi Spelling Nazi*
posted by rushmc at 6:35 AM on November 8, 2002


*awards rushmc the relevant Iron Cross*
posted by MiguelCardoso at 6:39 AM on November 8, 2002


*disappears up his own ass*
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 7:13 AM on November 8, 2002


madamejujujive: In fact, Chaucer's was a late form of Middle English, not Old English. His death in 1400 is generally accepted as the (somewhat) arbitrary dividing line between ME and Modern English.

Hah! Beat that for nitpicking!
posted by IshmaelGraves at 7:47 AM on November 8, 2002


rushmc - you're either mixing conscious and subconscious processes (personally, i wouldn't call using the subconscious "thought") or you still s-p-e-l-l out each word as you type. in the latter case i'm not sure i have that much confidence in your intellectual ability either (speaking as one who regularly makes spelling mistakes - but then, of course, that means you won't be reading this....).
posted by andrew cooke at 8:17 AM on November 8, 2002


I'm not exactly sure that there's any good reason to point out spelling errors on Metafilter or other discussion sites except to clear up a possible misunderstanding. It's certainly in each poster's best interest to communicate as clearly and accurately as possible, but it's a waste of everyone's time to make an issue of it within a thread. If you want to help the person, send them an email.
posted by daveadams at 8:43 AM on November 8, 2002


" This is the point where someone jumps in with the "think of the dyslexics!" rebuttal."

No. This is the point where most people dismiss you as an anal retentive crank.
posted by y6y6y6 at 8:56 AM on November 8, 2002


cyniczny: Since you ask, here are a couple of things nobody else has mentioned:

I have never understood the dismissive nature some people appear to have in regards to poor grammar and spelling.
Should be "in regard to."

acting as if they are meaningless
Should be "as if they were."

And on another front:
Spelling errors are thought errors
This is perhaps the single silliest thing I've ever read on MeFi.
posted by languagehat at 9:39 AM on November 8, 2002


Swear to god, I couldn't make this up if I tried. Some synchronicity happening here...

I do tech support for a software company. We deal with consumers on a daily basis and like any other support organization, we keep notes on every call. One customer called to complain that one of his disks were broken [this software comes in a 3 CD format]. The rep who took the call is an excellent speller and communicator but on this occasion, he wrote the following:

"Customer has broken dick. Please send replacement dick"

The customer called back today and when I pulled up his notes, I almost had a coronary. Thankfully I have a mute button.

My point is, my coworker, who a normally very conscious of his spelling and goes to great lengths to make sure it's correct, had a brain cramp. We are all vulnerable at some point I guess.


posted by KevinSkomsvold at 10:00 AM on November 8, 2002


Good grammar and spelling helps people in life, regardless of passionate arguments about how grammar is just a tool of the Establishment trying to get a brother down. People don't learn grammar from books, or even really from school, but from hearing/reading it used correctly, and occasionally having missteps pointed out to them. If I write "infer" and someone says "Psst, don't you mean 'imply'", I take it as constructive criticism and move on. I don't freak out and start lashing people for being dicks. It's usually just a polite correction. I very seldom get "Hey, idiot, you can't even use a five letter word correctly! Hahahaha." Spelling or grammar corrections, done politely, are a good thing.

However, "done politely" usually means a brief e-mail to the author, not a smirking comment in the FPP they spent 15 minutes trying to get just right.

Incidentally, I'm guilty of this myself, and I personally need to be a little more discreet about it as well.
posted by oissubke at 10:09 AM on November 8, 2002


I believe I can be the nitpickiest dick of all. Chaucer's quote about the mutability of language above misspells his spelling of "thei". Hah!

Yep. I was holding my copy of Troilus open with a can opener and trying to peck out that stanza by the light of my monitor. Sharp eye, sharp eye.
posted by Hildago at 12:41 PM on November 8, 2002


I wish people arguing against rigid grammar wouldn't use Shakespeare and Chaucer as examples. Their works were intended to be heard not read and both were masters of language who could afford to bend the rules (there are always rules, whether written down or not, Chomsky taught us this).

I'm a copywriter by trade and the most important lesson I've learnt is that constructing an immediately legible sentence is an art. Bad spelling and grammar make you trip over the words and lead you to distrust the writer. If you're not a Chaucerian-style genius. grammar is your friend. Much as I adore Clavdivs and TCS, most of the time I have no idea what either is going on about.
posted by Summer at 1:27 PM on November 8, 2002


there are always rules, whether written down or not, Chomsky taught us this

Summer, the rules Chomsky is talking about are innate. They're not written down, and if you're a native speaker you can't break them. There are a lot of things I (in my capacity as a linguist) disagree with Chomsky about, but this isn't one of them. The rules linguists talk about have nothing to do with the "rules of spelling and grammar" you're talking about, which are for the most part purely arbitrary and designed to separate the (well-educated) sheep from the (low-class, to be exploited) goats. I make my living off them too (editing the output of you copywriters, as a matter of fact), but let's not kid ourselves about what's going on.
posted by languagehat at 1:32 PM on November 8, 2002


the rules Chomsky is talking about are innate

That's what I meant (I've had a couple of glasses of wine).

if you're a native speaker you can't break them

Bend, not break - stretch, tweak and toy with.

The rules linguists talk about have nothing to do with the "rules of spelling and grammar" you're talking about, which are for the most part purely arbitrary and designed to separate the (well-educated) sheep from the (low-class, to be exploited) goats

They're imperfect attempts to convert the patterns of the mind to patterns on the page. Your intepretation is far too narrow. If they were purely arbitrary they wouldn't be useful. Grammatic rules that aren't useful tend to fall out of use.

I wasn't alway a copywriter you know. I was once a sub-editor.
posted by Summer at 1:46 PM on November 8, 2002


Yes, I know I spelt interpretation wrongly. Don't even bother. I'm drunk.
posted by Summer at 1:48 PM on November 8, 2002


Well, don't just sit there -- pass the damn bottle!
posted by languagehat at 2:28 PM on November 8, 2002


Sorry languagehat, I've just had the last drop. I've got some ouzo in the kitchen if you're interested.
posted by Summer at 4:12 PM on November 8, 2002


Bouzo!
posted by MiguelCardoso at 4:42 PM on November 8, 2002


I have no idea what you're saying, andrew cooke, but I'm sure there was a dig in there somewhere.

This is the point where most people dismiss you as an anal retentive crank.

I'll take that over a careless ignoramus any day!

They're imperfect attempts to convert the patterns of the mind to patterns on the page. Your intepretation is far too narrow. If they were purely arbitrary they wouldn't be useful. Grammatic rules that aren't useful tend to fall out of use.

Summer knows.
posted by rushmc at 6:33 PM on November 8, 2002


Grammatic rules that aren't useful tend to fall out of use.

Providing information about a speaker's educational and social background is useful for people, all in itself.
posted by redfoxtail at 6:45 PM on November 8, 2002


This is the point where most people dismiss you as an anal retentive crank.

There should be a hyphen in "anal-retentive."
posted by kindall at 12:45 PM on November 9, 2002


Providing information about a speaker's educational and social background is useful for people, all in itself.

I don't think grammar does do that actually. There are plenty of well-educated people who can't spell or write grammatically. Medical students are particularly bad. I bet if you look at the background of the Mefites who are serial grammar-abusers you'll find they're as well educated as those who write elegantly. Now accent, that's a different matter.

There should be a hyphen in "anal-retentive."

Shouldn't it be anally retentive?
posted by Summer at 10:51 AM on November 10, 2002


Providing information about a speaker's educational and social background is useful for people, all in itself.

in what way?

what is a message ?

is it the form or the content?

posted by sgt.serenity at 3:23 PM on November 10, 2002


Shouldn't it be anally retentive?

No. It's not that you're retaining something anally, it's that you're fixated on the anal stage of development (per Freud), "in which a person exhibits compulsive cleanliness, orderliness, or fussiness."
posted by kindall at 8:22 PM on November 10, 2002


Oh. I thought it was retaining something anally. You live and learn. Stupid saying anyway.
posted by Summer at 2:16 AM on November 11, 2002


"retaining something anally"

posted by mischief at 5:00 AM on November 11, 2002


There are plenty of well-educated people who can't spell or write grammatically. Medical students are particularly bad.

That would depend largely upon one's definition of "well-educated," I should think. I've met many med students (and doctors) who didn't meet mine (as well as many who did).
posted by rushmc at 9:08 PM on November 11, 2002


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