Letter Writing Part One: Spelling and Grammar

I have always known that writing fiction and nonfiction are two completely things. It’s the same medium, but you have a completely different goal in mind. And yet there is another, often neglected, form of writing: that of letter writing. Letter writing was once a skill that only the elite acquired. After all, the poor could hardly afford to buy the paper, ink, and quills necessary for letter writing when they struggled to put food on the table. Unfortunately, due to a variety of reasons, this form of writing has never been the preferred way to communicate.

But writing as a form of communication between two people has become degraded by technology. It is a sad state of affairs when a student will email an English teacher using text shorthand thinking that it’s completely acceptable. Am I the only one, besides my English teacher fiance, who thinks this is just…wrong. This is not a “I hate technology” rant. I happen to love technology. But my first love is words. Yes, the English language is fluid. There are rules, and there are exceptions to just about every one of them. However, there is a difference between acceptable bending and blasphemous misuse.

Acceptable Bending of the English Language and Grammar

Rule number one: You must know the rules. If the rules are too restrictive for the type of work you are writing (say stream of consciousness), then if you know the rules, you can bend them. There have been many authors to use grammar only when it suits them, Faulkner comes to mind. They bended grammar, not spelling not shorthand, to the purposes they needed them to fulfill.

It is acceptable to use shorthand between friends and in texts. Why do I feel this way? Space is limited in texts, that is how the shorthand formed. Friends can understand each other, and shorthand is often used in letter writing. Shorthand is also acceptable when making notations to the self on a manuscript.

As I said before, the language is fluid. Which is one of the reasons I love it, and not just because it’s my native tongue :). New words are coming out everyday. If you’ve invented something then it’s acceptable to add it to the dictionary. Facebook used to be just a misspelled word. But someone had a new idea, and created the web presence we now know it to be. It’s not just a noun, but can also be used verb (sure I’ll just facebook it, or tweet it, or whatever…).

It is also acceptable to bend words and their spelling when illustrating something in a text. There is a woman I know, with a very strong southern accent. She doesn’t say five.  She says fah-ve. That’s how she pronounces it. And I used her accent in a short story I wrote. This kind of writing is common when an accent needs to be heard, and is perfectly acceptable in moderation.

Blasphemous misuse of the English Language and Grammar

The inability to spell is not something I can condone. It is one thing to use text lingo when talking with friends, it is quite another to blatantly flaunt your inadequacies. I have received some emails, from fellow students, with words so misspelled as to be unreadable. Do not email me in text lingo. Do not use shorthand unless you know that I can decipher it.

Deliberately not using your spelling and grammar check. Sometimes it’s wrong. Yes. But most of the time, spelling and grammar checks can prevent serious harm to your paper, email, or letter. There is no excuse to have misspelled words, and grammatical errors because, due to technology, there are programs that can proofread your papers. Is it really that hard to look at the little red squiggle and say “Oh, yeah! That is a misspelled word.” Is it? No. Don’t say in an email: I meet u 2mrrow. I got that in a text and nearly hit the ceiling. They couldn’t even write “I’ll” because it took too much space.

Okay, so this list really seems short, but I guess you’d call this my pet peeve. Anything that I haven’t listed as “Acceptable,” to me, falls under the “Blasphemous.” If you’re blogging, better check your spelling. If you’re writing an email, double-check. If you’re handwriting a letter…triple check.

And so ends part one, because this post got rather long-winded and rambling at nearly 2,000 words.

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10 Comments

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10 responses to “Letter Writing Part One: Spelling and Grammar

  1. I compltely and wholeheartedly agree. The whole point of communication (of any form) is that it allows two or more people to communicate. If one party can’t understand the other, there’s not a lot of communication going on.

    You might enjoy this post from Magnet for Foolishness as well.

    • In my first draft, I wandered through how to write a letter to someone (that’s how this post started really), and punctuation, and whole bunch of other topics before I realized how far off base I was getting. So I limited it to one part of letter writing. I’m currently polishing one on punctuation, one on the art of writing a letter to someone, and one on calligraphy. Yeah, I guess my mind sometimes wanders when I’m typing.
      I suppose my rant tended more towards those that really don’t care, rather than the mistakes we can all make.

  2. Great post thanks. I really enjoyed it very much. You have excellent content on your blog.

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  3. snagglewordz

    I totally agree, the place for text language is, well, while texting. I’d like to add another pet peeve, the use of profanity as fillers in conversation. Grrrrr argh.

  4. Pingback: The Right and Wrong of Writing | Odds and Ends: Pit's Complete Waste of Bandwidth

  5. Pingback: Letter Writing Part Two: The Letter | dwwriter

  6. Pingback: Gifts and re-gifts, from a grouch to a grin « Snagglewordz

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