DTP Blog 29, What your grammar says about you!

Check out this article I wrote for NSPIRE.

What your grammar says about you.

By Tanya Uhrich

How many times do you read and reread an email or text message before hitting the send button? In my case, about five times. As a writer, I am super paranoid about spelling and grammar. As hard as I pay attention to what I am sending out or writing, I still catch mistakes later. It drives me insane but it’s a nice reminder that I am only human after all.

Typed messages have changed a lot over the years thanks to technology. It’s hard for me to admit my age but when I was in school, we had to take a typing class. Remember, the old-school typewriters and white-out strips. It was the only class in high school I failed mostly because I preferred to handwrite something. It was easier and took way less time. Skip ahead to the present and now I type every single day because it is easier and takes less time. How the tables turn. Also, the fact that is pretty much how communication is preferred today is a quick easy text or email.

As an introvert, I prefer this type of communication because I don’t have to have an awkward conversation with someone I might not know or a difficult conversation with someone I do know. The problem is a lot of context gets lost in our grammar. For instance, when you type in all caps that means you are strongly expressing your point with a little anger mixed in. Stop doing that! It sets the mood for the message and it comes across as anger. Well, that never leads to a positive outcome.

The first glaring error is spelling. Today a lot of our grammar has been dumbed down due to people being too lazy to type out a word. Unless you speak the language of abbreviations it can be difficult to even have a clue what some mean. In my opinion, it is the equivalent of sending me a message in another language that I have to use Google to translate. That completely ruins the point of a quick message. When I have to spend time trying to even figure out what you are trying to say leads to me most likely deleting the message without bothering to read it. Google as great as it is even loses a lot in translation from one language to the next.

The second one is punctuation. Some people don’t even use it within a text message so the whole message is one long run-on sentence that gets very weird or creative. Depending on how you look at it. It’s entertaining how having to use an extra thumb or finger to hit the arrow button to bring up the period button can so easily take someone’s grammar down.

The last one that jumps out at me is our loss of handwriting. This one completely breaks my heart. I still remember being in second grade and watching my teacher explain every letter as she drew it on the chalkboard. Then we would spend hours upon hours simply tracing the letter and learning how to incorporate it into our work. Moving on to high school we would simply get a zero on an assignment if the teacher couldn’t read our handwriting. We had to take the time to make sure it was legible. Even now as an adult I take pride in my handwriting and signature. The fact is in some situations it will always be easier and quicker to simply write something down will never change. It bothers me that when I look at the younger generation’s handwriting it looks like elementary work because handwriting is not focused on in schools much anymore. Why?? Our kids will eventually have to sign loan documents, a marriage license, or even those redundant forms at the doctor’s office. On my last trip to Urgent Care, they handed me a stack of papers and a pen to fill out for them. How is not teaching our kids this fundamental skill less important than a math class that will do nothing for their future??

Maybe it is just me in my generation or simply being a writer that the subject of grammar really bothers me. Although when I read a poorly drafted message today I can always tell a couple of things about the sender. One, they obviously didn’t reread the message before they hit send. Two, they are not bothered if the message appears professional. What’s ironic about that is today a lot of Spam emails are filled with this problem making them easy to spot. So consider your message and if the recipient is even going to read it or just hit the delete button. Last but not least, the emotion in your message. Caps lock, run-on sentences, or lots of spelling mistakes. This makes me assume you are either passionately angry or in too much of a hurry to bother taking pride in your work. Most of these I simply glance over and delete because they are too easy to read too much into it. I am an overthinker so these usually ruin my weekends.

Please take the time to read and reread your messages before hitting that enter button. Take pride in your work if not for yourself but for the recipient. After all, you are the one that looks lazy or not very bright with your message. Take pride in yourself and think about how you want the receiver to perceive you.

If you have a topic suggestion you would like me to explore please email me at uhricht@gmail.

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