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November 20, 2010

A few words of explanation for why I chose to join the blogging world:

I’ve worked with words for 25 years or more, including as a lexicographer, academic press editor, freelance and marketing writer, web content manager and editor, and I can’t count how many business letters and memos I’ve compiled.

My most recent position gave me a close-up view of new technologies for communication, and I’ve been intrigued by how teenagers, older adults, and everyone in between abbreviate and alter their writing and communication according to the device or tool they’re using. Instant messaging, for example, brought us LOL, LMAO, BTW, LMK, and many more abbreviations. Expediency and tiny- keypad shortcuts like “u r awsum” abound in the texting world.

Alongside these changes, however, I’ve noticed a definite decline in literacy in spelling and grammar among the populace. As crushing a blow as that fact is to my editor’s sensibilities, the coup de grace was the realization that many of the errors we see are committed by people who know better—but don’t care. They aren’t interested in the “details” of spelling, grammar, or punctuation, and expect that everyone knows what they mean anyway.

I therefore choose to use this forum to point out the errors of their ways. I’ll highlight one real-life example—a sign from the campus, the supermarket, the highway, or the ball field—and explain what’s wrong and why the “detail” matters.

Perhaps my efforts will be wasted on the ignorant and apathetic. Perhaps I’ll elicit rolling eyes, chuckles, or head shakes at such a pedantic exercise. Honestly, I don’t have delusions of grammatical authority. I just want to vent.

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