Shifting Baselines

Reading my Twitter stream and the many blogs that are in my RSS reader, it’s become painfully obvious that the general command and valuation of written English is on a downward spiral. This morning, I read this wonderfully concise and sarcastic post by Alicia Jay about why proofreading doesn’t matter.

While I agree with the points that Jay makes, it got me thinking about some of the rockstar bloggers that I am forced by peer pressure to read. Their posts are full of spelling and grammatical errors, and sometimes even malapropisms, but that hasn’t affected their rockstar standings.

How could it? Their audience has an equally poor or worse command of written English! They can’t recognize any of the errors as such. The baselines appear to have shifted.

I realize this is making me sound like the proverbial spinster English grammar teacher picking the fly shit out of the pepper. Yet, I can’t help but think that if we didn’t hold on to a firm baseline of what’s right and what’s wrong, we’ll soon have linguistic anarchy and at some point in time, the whole system becomes unstable and written communication becomes a crap shoot.

Some would argue that we must be afforded some flexibility and artistic licence. Of course we do. I’m invoking some of that licence right here in this post. The point is that it’s not licence if you don’t know what it is you’ve deviated from.

2 thoughts on “Shifting Baselines

  1. Hi Andrea,
    Thanks so much for linking my post here! I totally agree with your above sentiments. I often find myself reading some of those blog posts and cringing. Is it just not that important to have a basic grasp on the English language anymore?

    I am certainly not attempting to upset those individuals who have started blogs with English as their second language. In fact, I commend you for going for it. However, I agree with you, Andrea, in that is seems that the baselines have shifted.

  2. I can’t help but think this has something to do with these “rockstar bloggers” valuing quantity over quality. Once you’ve deluded yourself into believing you need to write three blog posts a day in order to stay relevant and increase your “influence”, it all goes downhill…

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