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Yes, I'm ranting on this again.

It's not entirely to do with intelligence, and not entirely to do with language, but I had to say something. I keep getting these utterly illiterate emails & it's driving me right round the twist.

So what I want to know is when it got decided that email could be as off-the-cuff as it wanted to be?

At what point did someone say, 'You know, email is quick and easy, so why should we bother with spelling and grammar?'

And before you think I'm being nit-picky, let me say that I got an email today from a self-professed English major, which was so appallingly badly written that it was very hard to even understand what he was trying to say. I'm not talking a couple of misspellings and misplaced commas. I'm talking total lack of input from brain.

What the hell am I supposed to make of this: 'It none of my bussness but I fell that you need to clam down, You seem to get to over work about the gothic them. .... I'm glad you have different tastes, and for your indivism in life as I believe you must be your self in life.'

Can you say Rosetta Stone? Can I have a decoder ring for idiot-speak?

Once upon a time, when schools focused on teaching reading and writing, students had to acheive certain levels of competence in Our Fair Language, in order to advance to the next grade, or to attend college.

Now, evidently, classes in Political Corectness, Morals and You, and Why Darwin Was a Godless Heretic Who Will Burn in Hell are taking precedence.

Call it elitist, but I definitely subscribe to the school of thought that one's communication skills are a direct indication of one's intelligence and education.

People who participate in online communities, whether via chat, email, Usenet or discussion lists, have been fooled by the real-time aspects of the Web into thinking that speed counts over clarity. 'First-at-all-costs' seems to be the watchword, and intelligent conversation online is now as rare as punk shows at the Vatican. More than anything, though, I blame chatrooms, where the need to get your message out before the other guy leads to unpardonable illiteracy, of the 'wher r u' variety.

The most disheartening aspect of this trend, for me, anyway, is the fact that very few people seem to care that they sound like their education stopped at third grade. I find it really hard to take seriously someone who feels it unnecessary to at least attempt to be clear in communications with me, especially written communications. Take your time, I want to tell these people. Write well.

My solution? Books-on-tape versions of the Chicago Manual of Style and the Random House Unabridged Dictionary should be piped at the womb of every child in this country for the full term of pregnancy, with special grants and merit awards going to children who eschew phonics and learn real reading and spelling.

Anyone who can write a 500-word email without resorting once to the spell-checker should be guaranteed a lifetime of making 50% more than her peers, and those who can make grammatical jokes and puns should be given the sports car of their choice.

As a side bonus, anyone who recognizes the pun in that 'Peccavi' telegram should be retained as Language Laureate in the highest office in the land, with an astronomical salary and leave to spend her days just as she likes, even if this means spending hours comparing dictionary definitions of her favorite words, for no other reason than it gives her pleasure.

Of course, people like me, who've been doing this for years and years with no compensation, much less recognition, are pretty well out in the cold, sports-car-wise, but in my case, the fires of righteous indignation keep me pretty warm.


14 September 1999 line intelligence . language . religion . driving . death . diversity . courtesy . losing things . spring . chatters . intelligence ... again line