English, as she is wrote

grammarIt’s very much a case of do as i say, not as i do… as those opening words clearly illustrate: i wouldn’t say that i’m a grammar nazi, perhaps ‘grammar nanny’ is more appropriate: i’ll inwardly cringe when exposed to examples of poor usage on the part of others, but rarely will i take someone to task over their articulation, (or lack of), or make a point of drawing attention to their error. As for myself, i’ll happily break all the rules – as will be obvious to anyone familiar with these pages – whether in the cause of artistic effect, or sheer frivolity and simple bloody-mindedness. For me, beginning a sentence with a preposition is less a matter of having disdain for the rules than an appreciation for being matter-of-fact about how we really speak – I’m very much a performance grammarian, because it’s a more honest and true reflection of the real world, (even if I’m writing about a virtual one!) Right, wrong or otherwise – i’ll let you decide, but don’t bother correcting me because i’ll take no notice.

So, i’ll freely admit that it’s one rule for me and a different rule for everyone else – i can’t help being inwardly offended by grammatical malpractice on the part of others, but i suspect – when it comes to sl – i’m by no means alone. Unlike the great unwashed, who spend their days Facebooking and txting with seemingly no concern for form or function and the utility of language, other than how many different emoticons they can append to their pithy missives, the sl bunch seem – in general – less enamoured of such practices and would rather not see communication inworld reduced to a meaningless jumble of letters and digits.

Sucess?

Sucess?

‘4 and 2 are not words’, ‘R and U are letters’, ‘If you intend having a conversation with me, I’d appreciate that you speak English and not text’… Comments commonly to be found gracing profiles across the whole inworld demographic. SL people, it seems, are largely intolerant of sloppy practices when it comes to the written word and would rather not be subjected to the brevity and compromise that proliferates elsewhere on the web, or otherwise passes for modern-day communication.

Perhaps sl users have higher expectations of language as a consequence of the nature of the virtual environment? It is, after all, a world: Not a chatroom, neither is it a social media platform in the sense of Twitter or Facebook. When we converse in sl, it is effectively face-to-face; a conversation of the old-fashioned kind and when this conversation is expressed in the written form, (and I do realise that not all conversations in sl are typed – but that’s a different kettle of fish entirely), it seems reasonable to expect that it will follow the same pattern as spoken conversation. Consequently, when shortcuts are taken that undermine the purity of the spoken word, it jars our sensibilities… it simply feels wrong.

noretuneHowever, despite our shunning of sloppy language, we tend to be incredibly tolerant of sloppy typing. Indeed, there are those amongst us more than happy to champion it! Check out our profiles and you’ll find us proudly proclaiming our prowess at typonese as one of our skills; those whose fingers fall over themselves as they frantically try to keep pace with rapidly changing conversations are applauded when they manage to mangle the language beyond recognition, and nobody gives two hoots about what you type, just so long as you’re making the effort to get the message across!

There’s a sense in which we are willing to compromise to accommodate the physical and purely mechanical shortcomings of our fellow virtual citizens – an acceptance that typing is a necessary evil that will frequently get the better of us, but is somewhat unimportant  – a means to an end, rather than an end in itself. What truly matters to us is the message, not the means – and that is why we’ll tolerate “Sorrry i’m a bitlate, I fogort what tme we saod we’d be staert[[ng”, because it encapsulates the essence of the message, and the poor chap is making an effort, however badly. However, woe betide the avatar who turns up and broadcasts: “Hi every1 howzit goin Im gud hope UR2. Soz Im late 4got the time” – that’s just crass and lazy and effectively shifts the focus from the message to the means: nobody cares what was said, because they really can’t stand they way it was said.

nomod notrance_001Funny how the written word, no matter how inconsequential, can influence our perceptions. The pen – or whatever the modern day equivalent – still can be mightier than the sword.

And where do i stand? In my own little niche, as always: i’ll continue to mangle the language to suit my purposes, Misuse Capitals to get my Point across, and basically play with words, because it’s fun and rules were meant to be broken… but there’s a difference between breaking the rules because we can, and breaking the rules because we couldn’t give a damn.

s. x

Saw your blog post
It’s really fantastic
That was sarcastic
‘Cause you write like a spastic
Weird Al Yankovic – Word Crimes

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3 Responses to English, as she is wrote

  1. Becky says:

    I enjoyed your article and agreed with nearly everything in it. Since you’ve raised the issue, one thing I’ve wondered about (after reading your blog for some time), is why you use the uncapitalised letter i in place of the more common form of the first-person pronoun I in all but one instance in this post. I’ve noticed that you will use the uncapitalised version even when starting a sentence:

    “”i have helped out a couple of friends with theirs, which has led to some late nights poring over old documents and has found me trudging around churchyards on more than one occasion.”

    Further, I notice that you use the capitalised version when quoting others. Should I then assume that this is a personal preference that suggests personal humility? Or, are you a fan of Middle English? 😉

    I’m not asking you to correct it of course, but I’m curious as to what your reason might be, given you are someone that is conscious of the rules, despite happy to break them from time to time. If this is one of the breaks from convention, what’s the reason?

    • Aww Becky, now you’ve gone and made me all self-conscious!

      An almost inevitable question, considering the content of the post, of course, and one to which there’s not really a truly satisfactory answer.

      It’s a habit that sneaked in, made itself at home and now refuses to leave – despite threats and cajoling – around early 2010, a fairly bleak and depressing time in my life, both real and virtual. Reading the inworld profile of my avatar at the time, which with regards to physical attributes, Seren is a carbon copy of, (albeit with better shoes), isn’t an edifying experience!

      The small ‘i’ first made an appearance at a particularly low point around that time – probably more out of self-loathing than for any other reason – not only in blog posts, but pretty much everywhere else too: emails, texts and other sundry documents, all of which have suffered the same fate – but only the personal things though. Work-related scribblings and writing done for other blogs and publications elsewhere, both as Seren and the ‘real me’, haven’t been subjected to the same indignity – they were always pretty impersonal and not necessarily something to which there were strong feelings attached. Similarly, the small ‘s’ sign-off first saw the light of day at the same time.

      Why it should feature in this blog is an interesting point. Basically, the blog was never intended for a wide audience, it was always supposed to be more of a personal journal, a cathartic vehicle for sounding-off, cursing and generally venting my spleen, only shared with a few unfortunate and close friends. Even today, search engines are blocked because the blog was never supposed to be for general consumption – so, in many ways, it was an intensely personal canvas: one not destined for the consideration of strangers and casual onlookers.

      After all this time, the small ‘i’ has become a way to relate to the wider world on a personal level… when you see it used, (intensely irritating though it must be), my intention is to be genuine and open – almost a ‘this is me, warts and all’ declaration. In this context, you could probably say ‘i’ is for ‘imperfect’. Some will understand, others will be scratching their heads in puzzlement, whilst some will say ‘grow up and get a life’… but, at the end of the day, it’s my life, and nobody else gets to make the rules.

      Interestingly, you’ve left the other glaringly obvious question unasked… Serendipidy: misspelling? Typo? Intentional, or what? 😉

      s. x

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