Monday, 7 December 2015

Slipping standards.

As an ex-teacher of English, who also happens to love English literature and who is very careful about spelling and punctuation (the latter is often arguable and can be idiosyncratic and I do allow for that), it does annoy me when I come across glaring errors.
 I bought my Christmas cards some weeks ago and they are now all ready for posting (this is not intended to be a boast!) and I bought them with the picture in mind and it was only as I was writing them that I came across two absolutely glaring errors.   Both were in the same box of cards - one was a beautiful card of geese standing in the snow and on the back the caption read - geese outdoor's in winter.   The other was a pretty photograph of a tawny owl sitting in a snowy beech tree (obviously beech because they hold their leaves longer) and here the caption on the back read - 'tawny owl on the beach while snowing'.

The first caption of course has a misplaced apostrophe, while the second caption has a spelling mistake (beach instead of beech) and in addition I would really question the grammar.  (it does tend to suggest that the owl is snowing and would have been better if it had said 'tawny owl on the beech in the snow').

Do such things matter?   Am I nit-picking or should we try to uphold standards?   I know that often we all make mistakes when writing our posts - but really, on Christmas cards should there not be some kind of proof reading to help avoid this?

37 comments:

joy said...

Oh, how I agree with you, things like that make my toes curl. However, my own 4 sons (aged 25 - 45), sometimes make those sort of mistakes, so obviously the educational standards aren't what they were when we were young. I did a post on my blog a couple of years ago along the same lines, and one of the comments I got was "here, here". I rest my case.

A Heron's View said...

I totally agree with you Pat. There seems to be a very relaxed attitude towards spelling and the use of correct terminology these days.
I get very annoyed too in fact it is one of the reasons why I have stopped buying newspapers.

Derek Faulkner said...

In everything you say you are of course correct and it's something that I too seem to have a natural and irritating ability to spot, however it does seem to be the way the world is going these days. With so many people using smart phones these days to communicate (not me) and using abbreviated "text speech" when they send messages, I doubt that few would recognise bad spelling or grammar in front of them anyway.

coffeeontheporchwithme said...

I agree with you and you are not nitpicking. A lot of individuals do not understand when apostrophes should be used. The wording on the second card does make it sound like the owl is snowing. The confusion between beach and beech is annoying, but for me, it is the interchanging of there, their, and they're that drives me bonkers! -Jenn

the veg artist said...

I would have had problems with using those cards as well.
A few years ago I had to complete a literacy test at a college, designed to test the standards of all new students. One of the questions was, while understandable in the vernacular, completely wrong in print and as a test. I scribbled a note to this effect on the test paper - and was treated with some distance by the staff from that day on. It was a college of Further Education!

Cro Magnon said...

There, their, and they're. To and Too. Gawd it drives me mad, but I say nothing. Nowadays children are leaving school without having learned cursive writing. Writing, punctuation, and spelling are becoming a thing of the past.

potty said...

I've just looked how I spelt recede this morning on your last blog. Some mistakes are awful, I know, but please excuse the old dyslexia sufferers, who type slower than they think and have fat fingers. It also takes ages to find a word in the dictionary to check - not through want of effort but knowing the alphbet order.

Heather said...

I agree with you on this. I would allow for dyslexia sufferers but they are unlikely to work in areas where good spelling and grammar is needed. People whose work includes writing any sort of text, notices, signs, proofreading, etc., should at least have some idea of the English language and how it works. No excuses. I wouldn't expect to get away with errors like those.

donna baker said...

That is incredible for two separate cards. I'd have been shocked too. That said, I used to be excellent at spelling, punctuation and the like. As I've gotten older I am forgetting correct punctuation and it bothers me greatly. Cannot imagine the younger generation with their abbreviations, emojis and the like. For the longest time I thought LOL meant lots of love. Perhaps it will seem like another language.

thelma said...

It could not be because they were printed in a foreign country? Though of course I agree with most of the above comments, language does evolve over time, we may get cross with whittled down text on phones but that is the way of the young, who will usurp us eventually ;)

Dawn McHugh said...

My grammar is bad having moving around a lot as a child, anyway even I thought the ones you pointed out were wrong, with spell checkers and grammar checkers these days on computers there should be no excuse

Simon Douglas Thompson said...

You should check out your local area forums, you'll weep. I know I did.

Joanne Noragon said...

My granddaughters are prime examples of the lax standards of grammar, construction, meaning. I hold modern literature chiefly responsible, followed by modern teachers. My granddaughters spell poorly, mispronounce words, and, of course, have no idea of the use of punctuation marks.

Gwil W said...

I have the impression that real live proof readers are thin on the ground, probably because it's an exacting task and therefore expensive, and that the work has been assigned to computer mice who will work for a morsel of cheese.

If it's any consolation you in the UK are not alone; the most popular daily papers in Austria are on the same low level as your Christmas cards when it comes to being proof read.

Frances said...

The errors on your Christmas cards are almost, almost comical. Would you consider using a red pen to add corrections and perhaps a little LOL to the cards?

xo

Jennifer said...

That would annoy me to the point that I would be unable to send the cards, no matter how beautiful they might be. Poor grammar and punctuation are pet peeves of mine.

thousandflower said...

You are not nitpicking. Those kinds of errors in any kind of publication is unacceptable. Where's their editor??

Morning's Minion said...

The sentence structure used by today's 'journalists' is dreadful--very similar to the thing with the owl on your card--I find it messy and annoying. I type rather badly and tend to transpose letters, something I wouldn't do if hand-writing, but dangling participles and incomplete sentences drive me wild. Proof-reading apparently doesn't happen.

Barbara Womack said...

Oh my goodness! Errors like that drive me to distraction. I am so glad to read the comments and see that I am not alone.
Social media is fraught with awful grammar, misspellings and the like. And, I won't even get into how dreadful our local newspaper has become. I cannot read it without outbursts of aggravation.
I wonder if my grandchildren's generation will be able to communicate through the written word at all.

Countryside Tales said...

Definitely not nit-picking. Can't stand mistakes like that either. I do sometimes drop in the occasional not-required apostrophe when I'm typing fast and then I feel very embarrassed when I realise!

Coppa's girl said...

How I agree with all the comments above. The standard of spelling and grammar is appalling these days. It's particularly irritating on websites, in newspaper articles, and I've noticed some terrible mistakes in Kindle books. I'm convinced that if books are proof-read at all, they are done by people whose first language definitely isn't English.

Rachel said...

The young social workers I work with who do a wonderful job in their field cannot construct a sentence for love nor money so their report writing to me looks poor. It is accepted by managers without question. The English language is evolving again as it has over the centuries.

Sue in Suffolk said...

I don't think anything is proof read nowadays. We've seen some hilarious mistakes on house websites. A garden on 2 levels was described as a "Two Tired Garden" - perhaps it was!

Virginia said...

You've woken all the english language lovers with that post, haven't you Weaver!! I teach 6 year olds, and I insist they get apostrophes correct - we use the when in doubt, leave it out with them. It's almost impossible to teach adults the correct its/it's form, and Sue in Suffolk is correct - Real Estate websites are dreadful. I think when you're selling a million dollar/pount house, your advertisement ought to be pretty enticing. The best I've ever seen was (some years ago now) our New Zealand cheap chain advertising - ON TELEVISION - Easter Egg's !!!

Off to help the little get it right! Bye now.

Rachel said...

A lot of what is described above can be put down to relying on spell check without looking. Tired would not be highlighted as a spelling mistake and so the Publish button would be pushed, leaving the author unaware of the typo or he Ipad predictive text, even worse.

The Weaver of Grass said...

It does seem that we are all largely in agreement. However, Rachel's point about social workers is a relevant one and applies to anyone working in an industry which gives help to folk in need.
Incidentally I have sent an e mail to the web site on the back of the card asking for their opinion - no reply yet - expect they're thinking I am a daft old bat.

Jennifer Coupe said...

No, you aren't nit-picking. The cards would have annoyed me as well. Not quite the same thing but my absolute pet hate is "bought" in place of "brought". No one seems to know the difference and I cringe at news bulletins and documentaries when well-educated people persist in using the wrong word.

JoAnn ( Scene Through My Eyes) said...

I agree with you. Two of my pet peeves are signs announcing who lives in the house - "The Johnson's" --I long to leave a note in their mailbox asking - "The Johnson's WHAT?" but I figure they won't understand anyway. And then "the next store neighbor" - I once saw an attorney write that on their blog. Have they never read anything at all in their life? I couldn't resist that one and left the comment, "It always tickles me when someone uses a silly play on words like "Next Store Neighbor" - thanks for the giggle." The next day it was changed to the proper "next door neighbor". I'd sure hate to have that attorney defending me.

Terry and Linda said...

IT DOES MATTER!!! You are very right! The world is becoming slack. To much texting I think.

Linda

John Gray said...

I apologise for my badspelling xx

Midmarsh John said...

We are of an age when the mechanics of the English language was taught to all. As a retired primary school teacher I remember battling against the loony left idea that children would discover things for themselves.

I often find myself re-reading some sentences as I try to work out exactly what they were supposed to say. Gudnes noes wot txtng wil do to writn English ovr the nxt decade or 2.

I wonder where the cards were printed. So much is coming from China. Remember when Japan started to export to Europe? The English instruction were almost impossible to understand. The Chinese are going through the same learning curve.

If you want a good smile, or cry depending how you look at it, try this site which shows various attempts at written English from all over the world:
www.engrish.com

Stephanie Gaunt said...

Oh, at last, a kindred soul. I too am a grammar obsessive. And it drove me mad at work, editing people's stuff. Why were they so fond of starting sentence's with 'And'?

meigancam01 said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Hildred said...

I'm with you, Pat. I get very anxious when I see such glaring mistakes. How about 'are' for 'our'?

Is grammar still taught in schools or has it gone the way of cursive writing? And spelling!!!! I understand that is just expecting too much of students.

Acornmoon said...

I hope you don't blame the artist, there is nothing more upsetting than having an image reproduced with mistakes in the copy.
Year ago I illustrated a small board book for babies which was supposed to be wordless. At the time we were living on a farm and I painted a prize Hereford bull who answered to the name of Maxwell Longstanton. Years later the books were reprinted and the editor decided to add titles to the pictures, my bull was labelled as a cow before I had a chance to correct it.



Bovey Belle said...

Gosh, with you all the way on this topic Pat. I couldn't have bought/sent those cards with such glaring mistakes - as someone said, probably printed in China. The English language, she is so complicated and confusing!

My pet peeve is apostrophes in the wrong place/where not needed - especially in, say, Christmaas Tree's for sale and the like. I've even seen company names on vans with this sort of mistake. If you can't spell - sorry, don't be a sign writer!

As for the notion of letting children discover things for themselves - what blardy idiot thought THAT up? (Looney left says a lot though . . .) Children are a blank canvas and need to have that canvas painted with the framework of the English language and basic mechanics of arithmetic, and everything else that comes afterwards embroidered onto that outline - with a heavy dose of inspiration and imagination added for good measure.

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