Thursday, February 25, 2010

Correcting the World

I opened my mailbox this morning to find my daily astrology report:

Cheer up and have fun, Cheryl. You may not be able
to resist temptation today, so why fight the urge?
Going with the flow will lead you most likely into a
place of laugher and merriment. There is nothing
wrong with being a bit selfish once in a while. Feel
free to indulge. Your sensitive, outer-worldly personality
will find comfort in a decedent meal by candlelight.
Romance is your ticket to pleasure.

While I won't expound on the accuracy of the reading today (do I ever try to judge whether astrology is accurate?), I was pretty upset by the errors. I adore "going with the flow"--I've had Taoist leanings for about ten years now--but why in the world would I want "laugher"? What the hell is that, anyway?

And since when is decadent spelled "decedent"? Does the astrologer mean "decent"? That might fit better, given that I have two kids to share dinner with, I'm trying to lose a few pounds, and my husband will be coming home late from a meeting south of Seattle today. I'd be happy with a decent meal, honestly. It might even suit me better than a decadent one.

But it isn't just an astrologer who can't seem to handle the English language. Yesterday, an AP article about the shooting near Columbine had at least two grammatical errors. A blog this morning about the speed skating issues (involving the Koreans) ended in this way:

They may have backed into bronze, but as the fourth-best relay
team in the world. Don't say it wasn't earned.

Please don't ask me what's wrong with this. It should look like this:

They may have backed into bronze, but as the fourth-best relay
team in the world, don't say the medal wasn't earned.

Am I irate because I've been grading too many student papers lately? No. I'm upset because whoever is writing these articles is doing this for money--these people are PROFESSIONAL WRITERS--and their stuff is published with obvious disregard for editing.

Enough of my ranting. I'm off to mark up the newspaper with a red pen.


  1. It gets me mad when I read such poor writing/spelling, too.

  2. Wait, the blogger is paid? And a professional writer(OK, maybe sometimes...)?

    I'd back you up 100% but, sadly, I'm not sure all my blog posts could withstand scrutiny. In fact, I know they couldn't.

    Still, poorly written work reflects on the author (including me) and can distort the message. Unless one's husband can't spell because of dyslexia, in which case one can read the horoscope and not even notice such egregious errors.

    It is a pity that the paying world and instantaneous access allows/even encourages the kind of slipshod craftsmanship that would never have been accepted in the past.


    I know the rules of course. Perhaps copyeditors should come back into vogue.

    (Hold on while I proof my comment)

    Thanks for your patience. :)

  3. Let-em have it babe... I am with you. Only I am one of the ignorant people with no understanding of the English language that I am livening in, writing with, and using to express myself with...

    But I agree with you 100%. If you’re going to put it out there, expect it to get critiqued.

    Anyone would benefit from your edits... I wish I could understand half... no 1/4 of what you do. But I do what I can, thx for sharing. I love a good rant; it helps me feel better, thx again.

  4. I'm glad I'm not the only one, Barbara!

    And yes, Stephanie, when a blogger is writing for NBC Sports, he's paid. Maybe he's not paid that much, but he's paid a hell of a lot more than I am for this one. (What's more than nothing in monetary terms?) I am not too hard on my own fellow free-bloggers who make mistakes... but they also don't fill the blog with unintentional fragments.

    (Oh, and so glad you proofed your comment. I might have spat out more criticism.) I wish copyeditors were back in vogue.

    Thanks for enjoying the rant, Jeff. Sometimes a bit of testiness fires my writing up...

  5. Not that you're not entitled to rant, dear one. I just jump behind you 100% without being a hypocrite. I appreciate what you're saying and agree. I'm just guilty myself, more than I like.

    Since I can't recall running into a typo on your blog, rant away.

    I appreciate the distinction the blogger. Since I didn't know, I queried.

  6. Shakes, having a decedent meal would probably be cause for arrest depending on how you obtained the main course.

    I have come to read beyond the errors of journalists. I view them as lazy and overly reliant on editors, whom they fail to realize, used to write equally bad copy.

  7. I can't say I see a lot of errors on your own blog, Stephanie... but even you cannot be perfect at everything... I hope my only strength isn't clarity, but if that's all I have going for me, at least I have that.

    Maybe that's it, Walking Man. I need to go out and get myself a decedent meal somewhere. Know any place that serves them?

    Actually, I think many articles, in the rush to get news out as quickly as possible, tend to be sent in without editing... yet if these companies would keep a couple of copyeditors on staff, willing to read and edit copy as it came in, the problem would not be so common. I could have fixed these problems in a matter of minutes.

    I've even found countless novels filled with typos and other errors. That, given all the levels a novel must go through before it is published, is pretty awful.

    Perhaps we (I) need to do more to teach grammar and usage. We'd certainly communicate better. I supposed I need to address that in my own classes, at least.

  8. Language is a tool like any other. Allow it to become rusty with too little use or use it carelessly, you blunt it's edge or mar it so it does more damage than good.