Sunday, 16 November 2014

Bad Grammar


Last night I spent an hour or so reading my favourite blogs on my I-pad, adding the occasional comment, while sleepily watching tv at the same time.  This morning, I noticed that there are quite a few typo and spelling errors in these comments and, in one of them, I have muddled my homophones using 'to' instead of 'too'.  Somewhat ironic, since I spent quite a lot of time on Friday afternoon telling students about the importance of proof-reading their work to avoid errors just like this.

Looking back over my previous blog posts I can see other errors in spelling, punctuation and grammar (or SPaG as the exam boards call it) and am aware that I am setting myself up for criticism. How can I, as an English teacher, publish writing which contains errors?  Shouldn't I be ashamed of myself?  I've been asking myself these questions recently.  Perhaps I shouldn't blog at all, when I don't have time to construct careful sentences or proofread properly.  And I compare myself to other bloggers: two of my favourites write flawlessly, despite having English as an additional language.  Why can't I manage this?

Before half term our Year 10 students, including my daughter, completed something called the Spoken Language Unit for their GCSE.  Their task was to produce an essay in which they analysed examples of their own use of digital communication and considered whether they were similar to spoken language.  This meant collecting examples of their texts, Snapchats or other messages and commenting on them. A pointless, time-wasting activity in my opinion: I am not sorry this particular part of the English Language GCSE has been dumped in the latest rewrite.  However what emerged was quite interesting.  My daughter and her friends use a whole range of techniques to make their 'chats' similar to spoken language:  repeated !!! or ???, capital letters to suggest tone of voice and emojis to suggest gesture and facial expression.  She doesn't worry about sentence punctuation much but does make an effort to use the apostrophe distinguish between words like 'your' and 'you're'.  The important thing for her is communicating and the speed at which she does so astounds me: she can type accurately on the tiny I-phone keypad without looking.

And so, like her,  that's what I've decided to do: focus on communication. So forgive me, dear readers, for the occasional error.  This blog is a record my thoughts and experiences: it is not perfectly crafted prose. Blogger allows me to share these thoughts and experiences with others who can respond, if they wish, just as I can respond to their writing. I love being able to do this.  As E.M Forster said in his preface to Howard's End: 'only connect.'  That's what matters.

9 comments:

  1. I think that commenting on any sort of tablet computer is harder because of the predictive text and auto correct, so don't be hard on yourself!! We all do these things occasionally! xx

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  2. Sometimes I type correctly, but the autocorrect feature at some site makes a mess of what I've said. I wrote about this yesterday. Facebook changed copperhead, as in copperhead snake, into copperfield.

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  3. I am very self-conscious about my SPaG. I worry a lot about apostrophes and commas, and lately I started worrying about the semicolon, which is almost never used in my native German but seems to appear often in student essays and I had some inserted in my own dissertation (by my supervisor). I for one enjoy all your writing and your mistakes must be so tiny I never notice them. You are right to focus on communication, it is so much more important than perfection, at least for a garden variety blog post. Have a lovely week! Cx
    P.S. I am going for my teacher training interview on Friday!

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  4. We are all allowed to be a little more relaxed in our personal space than our professional roles, and this is your personal space, which you have chosen to share with your readers, so if there is the occasional mistake (and I have never noticed any! ) then we just take that as a compliment. You are relaxing with us! X

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  5. Shakespeare did fine at communication and couldn't spell for toffee. Get the message across and leave grammatical nitpicking to the classroom!

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  6. Your e-card above made me smile! The auto correct thing catches me out sometimes. Your blog is your off duty space, Doris, I wouldn't be horrified if there ever was a tiny typo! Focus on the message x

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  7. It is not always the auto correct that catches me out, it is my brain. It seems to be a powerful thing that fools me into thinking something is right, It sort of auto corrects things. I can read something 6 times and not spot a mistake because my brain has corrected it. I look back hours later and the mistake jumps out at me. Does this make sense at all or is it just me!

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  8. I read, re-read, re-re-read my posts before I publish them and still, if I happen to look back at a later date, find errors. There is a time and place for spelling and grammar to be exactly right. For example, I think it is inexcusable for shops to use signs with apostrophes either missing or in the wrong place. As for blogging; it isn't an exact science. You're right about it being about communiaction and the odd mistake is totally forgivable. We're all human even if we are using machines as a method of communication!

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  9. I'm with you, Gillian. Cannot believe how often I find mistakes after the umpteenth reading. I'm also insecure/mildly obsessed with commas. But in the bigger scheme of things: who cares. Ás you say, Doris: communicating is the most important thing and I couldn't agree more. xxx

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