July 2009 has been very rich in strange experiences in Manchester. First, there was an opera that used the film’s story. Then there was a long chain of bags with rubbish. And finally there was this new word in the English language. DIVERSIOJN. I couldn’t pronounce it, even if I tried.
And this is when my spirits sink low. It’s already been almost two years since I took part in Blog Catalog’s action day and contemplated the issue of abuse. It wasn’t the usual type of abuse people would naturally talk about: beating, raping, physical and/or verbal bullying… It was the abuse of the language.
It comes in many forms today, and it doesn’t cease to surprise me that the deadliest errors are made by those who must know better. Two years later I am coming to feel as if “its” and “it’s” are no longer distinguished from one another by journalists and writers. Copywriting is getting cheaper and cheaper. No longer does it seem to mean “writing an original, well-researched copy“; rather it seems to mean “rewriting someone’s copy so as to pass the Copyscape test“.
We all make errors. As someone clever said, to err is human. To make grammatical errors is therefore very human, and I make them, too, even in my native language, although I am glad to say that they are usually typos, or an odd comma that I forgot to use because I was busy jotting down my thoughts quickly. But one thing I always do before sending a text or publishing a blog post, is proofreading. I don’t rely on spellchecker; I read aloud and carefully read the text. I’ll get back to this in a separate post.
So I am not trying to be pedantic when I note errors and typos: I’ve read and written so much that noticing errors happens automatically. Perhaps, sometimes I wish I wouldn’t notice; and I never make any conclusions about the person who makes those errors, it’d be wrong. But I don’t think I will ever understand the situation when errors go up, as in this photo, on the public display, for all to see. My problem is that we are defined by the language, and on this occasion we accept that we are defined erroneously. Of course, this is only a typo, but it makes the word unreadable. Suppose this is the “external” negligence, similar to putting your legs on the table during the meal. But, as with the waste management that ultimately indicates how we respect each other and what respect we are likely to accept or receive from others, this “external” inaccuracy hides the problem of not caring what words to use, and how. And this is one of the biggest, if not THE biggest, cultural problems we all face today.