January 31, 2018
The Sum of All Fears
Being a voracious reader on a limited budget, I read a lot of e-books these days. The current state of English grammar – or the lack thereof – is troubling to me. The occasional usage error, misspelling, or misplaced comma doesn’t bother me that much. But . . . I’m currently reading a very good space opera wherein it is very apparent that proofreading was skipped on several chapters. In most chapters the prose is faultless. But, in those other chapters, the text will flow well for a while only to be interrupted. By sentence fragments. Strung together with periods. And sentence capitalizations. Like a grammar checker. Went mad. It’s kind of like. Listening to William Shatner. As Captain James T. Kirk.
In my careers in police work and computer systems there was one hard & fast rule for writing:
Always have someone else read and critique what you have written before you consider it done.
Trust me, I’m not innocent of the very sins I’m accusing this young author of committing. Being an ADDer, I often think – and write – in choppy fragments. I also have usage issues, and often transpose so badly you’d swear that I never learned to spell at all.
If you absolutely have no one who can proofread your work for you, take a break, go for a walk — or something. Just put your project down for an hour, or two. Do something that will take your mind off of your writing project for a while. Then, sit down and proofread it yourself. You’ll be looking at it with fresh eyes.
Having over 30 years in the Information Technology industry, I sometimes wonder at how beneficial the technology I’ve been evangelizing for decades really is. Have we acolytes of the realms digital done our fellow humans a grave disservice? Texting, tweeting, e-mailing, Facebooking, and what-have-you appear to be killing the English language.
What’s the cure? Write. Do a blog. Join an online writing group. Take a writing class. Do anything that involves writing other than e-mail, Facebook, tweeting, texting, or IM’ing.
Oh, yeah. Get yourself some paper and a pen and write by hand, as well. You’d be surprised how quickly your handwriting will suffer if you don’t use it regularly.
Just my rambling thoughts on the state of the written language.