Then again, grammar in social areas such as this can be taken too far! Take my above post as an example: I prefer don't over do not but yet I was told in a technical writing class that I took in university that it is always better to write out the full words.

What are the impressions of some of our grammatical gurus here?

I think the problem is not that English is a difficult language. I think the problem is that our schools have gotten so overwhelmingly bad at teaching. When I was a lad (many eons ago) when you failed to show proficiency in a given subject, you failed it and had to take it again (and again). For decades now it has been the practice to just push the kids into the next grade. The result was generations of grade twelve graduates, many of whom could read and write at barely a grade eight level, and, in some cases, not at all.

This goes hand in glove with a lack of teaching of basic grammar. Again, when I was in school, parsing seentences was a common exercise. My kids did not do any parsing when they were in school.

Another problem is laziness. I've heard people with advanced college degrees using phrases such as "Me and Dave saw the show last night." This could be partly due to the lack of teaching of basic skills but you would think that at the PhD level (yes, the person who said that has a doctorate in physics), a person would motivated enough and disciplined enough to learn the basic rules of grammar.

through, thorough, cough, hiccough, slough
thr-oo, tho-row, c-off, hic-cup, sl-uff

English, is stupid

That's a problem with any language that has been around for as long as English. Take English in the time of Chaucer, for example

To thee clepe I, thou goddesse of torment,
Thou cruel Furie, sorwing ever in peyne;
Help me, that am the sorwful instrument
That helpeth lovers, as I can, to pleyne!
For wel sit it, the sothe for to seyne,
A woful wight to han a drery fere,
And, to a sorwful tale, a sory chere.

Hard to read. Go back a little farther and it becomes almost completely foreign. Even in Shakespeare's time there was no standardized spelling of words. Add to that the fact that the pronunciation of words evolves faster than the spelling. In old(er) English it was common to pronounce the "gh" and the now silent "k" at the start of "knight" and "knife". You can't blame the language if the pronunciation doesn't match the spelling. You could certainly start spelling plough as plow and through as thru (or throo) but what do you do with the terabytes of published text that uses the current spelling? At some point you just live with it.

It is also common practice in English to adopt words from other languages when there is not an equivalent word in English. Why invent a new word for toboggan, for example, when the Micmac alrready had a perfectly good word. In that case, do you blame English for the peculiarities of the language where the word originated? Germany used to have a language police whose job was to ensure the purity of the language. When German citizens started using the British term, chemist (what we here in Canada call a pharmacist), the German word police created a "German" word that was around 15 syllables long. The new word was (quite correctly) ignored by the masses.

And, I suppose, it boils down to asking what you would suggest as an alternative?

IMO it isn't grammar or even spelling that is of crucial importance. Rather it is the ability to be understood that is key. Presenting unbreakable "rules" of grammar can be as problematic as treating it flippantly. Since many of the well-known rules can actually make language harder to understand or imply unintended pretentiousness (eg. the never start a sentence with 'and' or 'but', or never end a sentence with a preposition).

The decline in "proper English" is more a reflection of the decline in formality and deference in modern culture. Informal language has never held to rigourous standards, its just now informal language is being used in more and more places.

Likewise what some might see as laziness could be equally construed as efficiency. Proof reading every e-mail would double the time it takes to send them and reduce time for actual work. Why bother when the person reading your e-mail will understand the message anyway?

I present myself to the world in four ways

  1. how I speak
  2. how I act
  3. how I write
  4. how I dress

How I speak and write are a function of form and content. When I meet someone for the first time and see a person who is dressed well and acts respectful (in terms of possibly posture, body language, etc.) I form an immediate opinion (although one subject to change). If that person then opens his mouth and says something like, " Me and Dave were at the pub and Dave axed me.." my opinion is immediately revised to "here is a person who does not care how the rest of the world sees him". It may be unfair but I immediately discount any opinion from that person as being uninformed and uneducated.

First impressions may be unfair but you only get one chance to make one.

If I write a mail to a friend, it doesn't matter if it contains mistakes, as long as he uderstands me. We might evne use some "slang" words only we understand.
I can hardly write a sollicitation mail to an HR manager starting with:
He dude wasup?

I should also point out that I do allow for people to whom English is a second language. But for people who know only English I expect better. I suppose it affects me in a similar way as when I see some moron who walks around with his pants halfway down his a$$. You can dress better. You choose not to. I've seen people with multiple facial piercings show up for a job interview. Their attitude seems to be "If you can't accept me for who I am then that's your problem". I disagree. If I make assumptions about you based on your appearance (or how you speak) and that costs you your chance at a job then that's your problem.

@ddanbe - I have a great deal of respect for people who have taken the time to learn a second language. I have tried to learn French but, lacking the opportunity to practice (or perhaps my poor brain is just too old) I was never able to develop any proficiency.

A news article I read earlier today had the passage:

After he turned to walk away, the officer, who has yet to be named by the department, grabbed Osche and violently through this 61-year-old man to the ground, causing him to scream in agony.

One thing I like to do is to read aloud what I plan to post. That forces me to read every word carefully. It also makes certain errors glaringly obvious. Posting in a forum is one thing but this was a published news article. I expect more attention to detail than what I am seeing.

In terms of being understood, although I am english and do not have a pronounced accent, on our travels my Dutch wife is more readily understood by others that have english as a second language than I am.
I perhaps speak tooo quickly but I hear non native speakers make the same errors and get by famously.
When we ere living in Mexico i was not well understood as i didnt have the american accent that they were used to hearing. same now as i live in Bali, Australian accents are easier for the locals to follow.
or maybe I just mumble a lot :)

@Jim: DaniWeb is a great site. It not only helped me with my programming, but it also helped me to polish up my English! Every non English speaking member like me should take that opportunity.

commented: +1 +0

You can dress better. You choose not to.

Yes but it isn't necessarily "better" to dress in a suit than to wear a T-shirt and board shorts. Each of those is different and it depends on the workplace. As and example, I work as a researcher at a biomedical research institute and in my workplace nobody wears suits and ties (except the 'media-relations' department) some could almost be mistaken for homeless vagrants, and it can even be frowned upon to dress too formally. Even at scientific conferences suit jackets are a rare sight, the majority just wear decent trowsers and a collared shirt.

And increasingly other businesses are adopting casual dress codes for their workplaces. So its just natural that the language would change with it.

Likewise interviews are not one-sided affairs. The applicant is evaluating whether they like the culture & atmosphere of the potential employer as much as the employer is evaluating whether they like the personality & skills of the applicant. If the applicant is looking for somewhere they can be treated seriously based on the quality of their work regardless if they turn up looking like they just rolled out of bed then they might intentionally turn up in casual clothing and speak in casual tones and use casual language. But that doesn't make them a bad person it just might make them unsuitable for some workplaces.

Australian accents are easier for the locals to follow.

That's because the USA is the current imperial power so people from all over the world are familiar with US culture (TV, movies, news, ...) and hence with that accent and others like it than the English accent.

commented: Cannot be more wrong..... More common is British English and thisa flavor is spoken by more people round the world than AmE +0

What would you consider an "American" accent? Is it the Southern drawl? Is it the Joisey thing? Is it the whatever-the-heck-they-call-it accent everyone in the series, Fargo, seeemed to speak? Is it the Bahstahn upper-class accent? Or is it the (what I consider) unaccented speech of, for example, Ed Asner or John Larroquette? If you listen to English pop/rock bands (take the Beatles or Queen as examples) and compare their speaking accent with their singing accent you may notice a marked difference. Their singing pronunciation is more like the "unaccented" American accent.

A few years ago I was talking to a company rep who was based in California (I am born and raised in southern Manitoba). He commented on my lack of an accent.

Yes but it isn't necessarily "better" to dress in a suit than to wear a T-shirt and board shorts.

Dressing better doesn't necessarily mean better clothes. it could just mean wearing what you wear better. It doesn't take a lot to pull up your pants so that your underwear isn't hanging half out.

Likewise interviews are not one-sided affairs. The applicant is evaluating whether they like the culture & atmosphere of the potential employer as much as the employer is evaluating whether they like the personality & skills of the applicant.

If I am hiring and I have a choice between two equally, or almost equally qualified applicants, and only one of them cares about how they appear to other people then guess which one is going to get the job. These days when too many people are chasing too few jobs (there are a lot of highly qualified people taking McJobs just to get by), not caring how other people see you is nothing short of idiotic.

I turn up to interviews, in a collar and slacks, no jacket, no tie
I sit in the anteroom with the interviewees, drink a coffee, relax until the clock is ready
"you, you, you, might as well leave now"
escort the first of those remaining to my office for the actual interview

not caring how others see you, is nothing short of idiotic

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Beauty is only skin deep and seemingly, appropriateness for this job is only suit deep.
However, if your dress is inappropriate at interview for the job, then so are you.
Having said all that, I do have a problem with over-formal dress codes - something that may be borne from snobbishness. I remember the best teachers in my school were the ones that looked like tramps (I kid you not). They were so into what they were doing, "looking good in order to make an impression" didn't really factor into their daily routine. Unlike the "new guys" all suits and aftershave that ended up shouting and screaming at kids because they couldn't relate to them. Those guys eventually got kicked upstairs with their clipboards and got to tell the good teachers how to teach.

Ah. I gotta let it go. Haven't worn a tie in 8 months. Joy.

Australian accents are easier for the locals to follow.

Australian accent: used to get me free stuff in restaurants, now, not so much

I remember the best teachers in my school were the ones that looked like tramps

I'd be willing to bet they didn't look like that when they were being interviewed. I was fortunate in that my job did not require a suit and tie. I did not have to deal with the public and the only users (for at least the first 20 years anyway) were the system control staff, and their dress code was extreme casual. As a result my "uniform" was about 99.9% blue jeans.

I wore a suit and tie to my interview.

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I'd be willing to bet they didn't look like that when they were being interviewed.

Very true.

I'm not disagreeing - I'd dress up for an interview, but really I'm thinking - what's the point? You have to make the best first impression - v. true. But can the interviewer see beyond the flannel, so to speak? How good is the interviewer if s/he can only see the tie?

Let's take, for example, olympic swimmers. Races can be won or lost by hundredths of a second. The reason you shave your body or wear the latest low-drag, high-tech swim suit is to possibly gain that extra advantage. That's the same reason you try to make the best first impression at that job interview. It might come down to a decision between two equally, or near-equally qualified people. That decision is going to be based on more than just qualifications. If your skills are in high demand or you can point to an impressive resume then you can possibly afford to take a few liberties. But if you are a recent graduate with little or no experience but still feel entitled to a job because you are God's (sorry, dog's) gift to the workforce and you can "dress however I please and if they don't like it then that's their problem" then good luck in that interview. And good luck in life.

As a person with (fortunately mild) Tourette's I am exceedingly conscious of what kind of first impression I make.

And I did notice that part about "I'm not disagreeing". I'm just in a very talkative (typeative?) mood this morning.

Many studies suggest the decision on the candidate can often takes less than 30 seconds into the interview and that interviews are prone to tons of subconscious biases

Reinforcing my point about first impressions. And our first impression is formed by (drum roll please) what that person looks like. Would you rather spend the rest of the interview trying to confirm a good first impression or disprove a bad one?

That takes me to the picosong home page which apparently has nothing to do with grammar.

Stuugie, I also think that reading helps improve one's language and grammar a lot. Could be that these people have not read enough while growing up.

Lots of people use slang and shorthand while texting, which is fine, but it starts to become a problem when it becomes a habit in their emails or more formal pieces of writing. Happens a lot with kids these days.

@Cooper_1, you're absolutely right, reading does help improve language and it is entirely possible that people are not reading enough.

As for texting, I get why people would have used shortened words like ltr for later, or cya for see you (and the thousands of other shortened words). However, we shortened words because of how texting was done during the early to mid 2000s. Having to press a button multiple times for one letter, was a pain in the ace so the shortening of words was easier. Nowadays that is not an issue and I believe texting can be done with full words and a more proficient use of grammar. Also, I don't agree that kids are the culprits here, I find the adults are bigger offenders of the English language, in written or texted form.

In saying this, no one is perfect and I don't profess to be perfect when writing. However, I do try to better myself and take critism quite well so that I can learn and better myself.

commented: "I do try to better myself and take critism quite well so that I can learn and better myself." <<< Keys to the world: I only wish I could +0

I was having trouble deciding whether to post this here (because it's about grammar) or in AD's thread (because it's a joke). I decided to post it here.

A "proper" Boston lady goes into a restaurant down south. When she places her order, the waitress notices her Bahston accent and asks, "Where y'all from?"

The woman answers, snottily, "I'm from where we don't end sentences with a preposition."

The waitress reflects for a moment, then says, "In that case, where y'all from, bitch?"

commented: lol +0

I just got a coupon via email from a local chain (Giant Tiger) thanking me for taking an online survey. It is good for ten dollars off "on a minimum purchase of $25 or more". I'd point out the redundancy but I don't want to stop the flow of coupons.