The article I was reading had all the excitement of the time that a work colleague, while driving me around a large and unfamiliar city, regaled me with an account of how once (at the very intersection we were stopped at) our boss's boss had pulled out in front of him, cutting him off. As if that wasn't enough of an exciting story in itself, he then explained how his friendly wave of recognition had been mistakenly interpreted by the great man as the raising of a middle finger. The story reached a crescendo when (now a few kilometres past the intersection in question), I was told that the important person had laughed with my colleague over the incident some time later. I was so thrilled with this account, I nearly filled my pants just for something to take my mind off it. So hopefully you get the picture; the article was boring. I suppose I should have said that from the beginning and spared you...but then it wouldn't seem like so much of a rant.
This is rather the point. As I read the boring piece about someone's stretch marks being ridiculed in public, my finer, more grumpy and curmudgeonly instincts kicked in. Customarily breaking a rule that I have almost never stuck to, I began to read comments and twitter posts (I'm sorry, but I can't bring myself to use 'tweets'), and found my outrage building. It felt good - warm in a cold and heartless kind of way; cozy in a where'z-my-AK47 fashion; familiar in a manner reminiscent of 'didn't I arrest you once?'. The cause - well the cause was, I think all you fellow grumpies will agree, was one worth dying on the hill for: punctuation and grammar.
Now, I admit; I am a poor proof-reader and frequently, in the grip of my feverish excitement to publish a post, allow typographical errors to slip through. BUT - and as you know if you've been around this page for any length of time; I have a big butt - the kinds of errors I see every day in inane online comments is enough to have me making a start on that get-me-the-eff-off-this-planet space ship that I plan to build from Alco foil and mason jars (you have to have windows in a space ship).
'To much to soon'
'Were was this?'
'There lovely, they are.'
'Are house was always busy.'
It's a cumulative thing - minor points in isolation, but the effect builds as person after person either makes a slight slip (forgiveable) or, as in the example above ('are house') a mistake so fundamental as to make me question when they left school. It makes me grumpy, and I don't care if that makes me seem insensitive (get over it if it does) or curmudgeonly (I am, so get over that, too). The mildly intriguing thing is that, from site to site and page to page, the demographics seem to indicate that this is a problem not merely confined to the young whippersnappers of today whose blood supply to the brain is inversely proportion to the height from the grouind of their trouser crotches, but is also prevalent right across the age range.
I have a hard time believing that schooling was really that bad throughout the last century (but perhaps it was, and I was, by comparison, really quite lucky), and I have a suspicion that the cause is individual; people simply don't care about such basic rules of spelling and grammar. If so, I think it's a terrible shame.
In the course of my work I get to see a lot of other people's written work - not much of it, but enough. Enough to tell me that many are barely literate when putting pen to paper, and given that these are for the most part intelligent people, I do wonder what the hell is happening to the use of our language. I care for more than one reason; I care because English is my mother tongue and I believe that it is elegant and wonderful in its many quirks and is worth maintaining even while it remorselessly evolves as all languages do. I also care because how we talk and how we write tells me something about a person; it tells me whether a little about whether they care about how they sound or seem, it tells me a little about their attitude towards life in general and if that person has any awarenes of how they present themselves to the world.
Language matters because without it we would be much more lonely and much less effective. Ideas would be more difficult to share and progress would grind to a halt without the ability to convey them to one another. Society would not function. Language is an integral part of our species' domination and development. I believe that we should nurture it in everyday use, coddle it and protect it from laziness and carelessness.
I believe that we all have duty to use our language with some respect, and to at least TRY to use it carefully. If we don't, then we may just as well bash away at the keyboards with our fists and lxczxz oisejhfdf kjsdhjdsroi.