Consider Taking an English Class

Sorry, no, that’s not where I’m going with that title. In fact, maybe I’m talking to you.


We are using written language to communicate on a daily basis more and more in our culture. Many of us use text messages to confirm appointments now — something that was considered terribly unprofessional a few years ago. Many of us use personal networking websites such as Facebook and MySpace not only to hobnob with other pros, but to interact with existing clients and attract new ones. We frequent professional networking forums to interact with colleagues. We blog.


Now, I don’t mind reading “meme,” or “txt,” or “hackerspeak,” or whatever you call the informal version of the written language that is emerging from so many people communicating in writing via modern technology. I’m talking about all the e-mails, messages, and posts on professional forums that I try to read every day that make no sense. Spelling can be forgiven; I’m not the greatest speller, I’m a lazy typist (I rarely go back to proofread correspondence I consider informal), and not every forum gives you the option to spell check what you post. So I’m not going to jump on your case if you forget that “I” comes before “e” except after “c.”


Have you ever received a telemarketing call from someone who speaks English so poorly that you can’t understand them at all? Mumbling? Slurring their words altogether? Reading their little spiel so fast without taking a breath in between words or sentences and continuing on and on while you just have to sit there waiting for them to take a breath because they don’t know what a period is?


Posting to a professional (or any) forum on the Internet without using capital letters, paragraph breaks, or punctuation is the written equivalent to sounding like those telemarketers.


Seriously, I cringe at nearly every e-mail I read. I know that my typing and grammar aren’t perfect, but if your skills with written language make your posts and e-mails the Internet equivalent of Mushmouth from “Fat Albert,” they are ineffective. You might as well let your cat sit on your keyboard and post that.


I have deleted e-mail, MySpace friend requests, and skipped forum posts, because I simply could not make sense of the message. Not only am I unable to understand what you want, but I think you might be stupid. If your written communication skills are that poor, the impression is that you are uneducated, and possibly raised by wolves. Quite frankly in an industry where so many people want to talk trash about the English skills of people who learned to speak English as their second language, I find it embarrassing and hypocritical that the majority of this trash talk comes from people who routinely illustrate their own inability to use English correctly.




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