So I was trying to read a book the other day that I had downloaded from the internet, but I had to stop because of the typos, homophones, run-on sentences and comma splices.
FYI, homophones are words that sound the same but are spelled differently: see, sea, peek, peak. And comma splices are commas used where a period should be.
And believe me, I only know this because it’s my job to know. But I actually had to look up the definition of comma splice AND homophone a few years ago because I had forgotten (never knew?) the technical names for: commas used as periods and words that sound the same but aren’t the same.
When I got into a discussion with someone about the increasing amount of errors going unchecked, especially in self-published books, but even in traditionally published content, she had to agree with me that, yeah, they’re there.
Oh, and one more thing.
Nobody seems to care!
Because when we both checked out the reviews this same book was getting on Goodreads, it was only receiving the highest of marks: 4s and 5s across the board!
Okay, I admit I may be a grammar junkie. I probably care more than most people. But I also know that everyone makes mistakes, including moi, of course. And I’m not so bad that I can’t look the other way when a book is sprinkled with typos and run-on sentences that aren’t getting in the way of the reading.
However, consider this: the thought process can be interrupted, by, bad punctuation two and wrong words that you can’t just blink aweigh. See? Wasn’t that annoying, those inappropriate commas? And the brain stutters: Two? Aweigh? Oh, too, away!
And then the rhythm, the reading spell is broken.
Here’s a scary thought. At work, where I do captioning for the hearing impaired, it is my literal job to spell and punctuate correctly.
In the past, captioning companies have always prided themselves on almost 100% accuracy. But lately, I’d say the past five years or so, because there are so many other little companies out there now underbidding prices, we apparently no longer have the actual time to be 100% accurate.
Just like the FDA permits certain levels of “contaminants” in hot dogs (no, don’t even think about what they are; don’t even go there!), many captioning companies now allow a certain percentage of typos, run-on sentences, and other similar errors in order to “get the work out” at a faster rate. Special attention is paid to proper names, however, which must be accurately spelled. But that’s about it.
My mind keeps going back to the book stuffed full of errors and the fact that people keep scoring it highly, regardless. And I looked in a lot of those reviews which don’t even mention the errors. I could understand a review that said it loved the story and the characters so much that even the spelling and grammar mistakes didn’t bother them that much.
But again: nobody seems to notice. Nobody seems to care!
In Idiocracy, the future is run by a population of morons. In fact, when Luke Wilson’s character Joe wakes up from being frozen, he discovers that the spoken language has… “deteriorated into a hybrid of hillbilly, Valley girl, inner-city slang and various grunts. Joe was able to understand them, but when he spoke in an ordinary voice he sounded pompous and faggy to them.”
Although cheesy and cheap, Idiocracy has hilarious moments and great prescience about where our IQs are going.
But then again, hasn’t stuff like that always happened? My husband told me that when he’d wear sweater vests or listen to rock and roll in his childhood neighborhood of East New York, the complaint from African-Americans would often be that he was “acting white.”
And language is always changing, adapting, evolving… isn’t it? Maybe Idiocracy’s prediction is too dark and dire. Maybe the downward spiral of the written (and, like, you, like, know, spoken) language does not herald the end of anything.
Isn’t language spelling and punctuation arbitrary anyway something someone made up one day when vocalizations were translated into a group of sounds that were recognized and transferred into a symbol that everybody accepted as the stand-in for that sound and that’s how written language came about I mean so mabee thoze simballs r chanjing and all that uthur stuff lik peeryods and cahmuhs and cahmunly axceptd rools r chanjing too
Just like “The Force”, “bling”, “Big Brother”, “baby mama”, “ghost” (in the sense of abruptly cutting all communication with someone) “woo-woo” and very recently “nothing burger” and “fake news”, to name a few, have been added to the lexicon or become part of our daily consciousness, maybe abbreviations, cyber slang, and texting shorthand like IDK or AFK and C U later and Omg what R U doing 2day don’t spell the end.
The rise of white nationalism, a woman on the freeway putting her RV on “cruise control” and then going into the back to make a sandwich, the advice to “don’t believe what you see and hear”, the apparent need for public signs that say “Fire is hot” in front of a fire pit and “Do not breathe under water” in front of a large container of water (https://www.ranker.com/list/signs-that-humanity-is-devolving/nathandavidson), reality TV, kidnapping immigrant children and saying that’s okay, Meghan Markle’s dress size, people who fall off cliffs while taking selfies…all of these things aside, maybe the decline of language and communication is simply a natural evolution, leading to untold growth and creativity, holistic, universal empathy, and ultimate sublime transcendence…