I am a grammar zealot.
It’s entirely my Mother’s fault; she drilled proper grammar into my skull from an early age, and I now cannot help but notice the absolutely atrocious spelling, grammar, and punctuation that permeates our culture.
Have you ever watched a history documentary where they read some crusty, tattered old manuscript that some Civil War soldier left behind? Not ol’ Honest Abe, or even Grant or Sherman — just some guy who wrote to his folks or his girl. These everyday soldiers invariably sound like Shakespeare compared to the IM-speaking crackberry addicts we meet today.
But surely, even if the everyday American has given up on proper grammar, our journalists are still upholding these standards. Surely, they manage to set a positive example for all of us: showing us the error of our ways and offering their own writing as a shining sample of excellence, and surely among all of these highly-trained journalists, the writers for the Wall Street Journal would be right at the top.
Surely, this must be true. Right?
Sadly, no. Here’s an excerpt from an article I saw from the WSJ a while back (preserved with spelling, capitalization, etc., exactly as found in the article online):
“A lot of traders are getting carried out of there seats. There are lots of liquidations including hedge funds out of riskier assets,” Michael Franzese, head of Treasury trading at Wunderlich Securities in New York. “No one was expecting this sell off in stocks and the euro and a flight to quality trade is in full effect and it not yields levels it just capital preservation.”
Read it again. Sorry – yes, I know it hurts. This time, just try to figure out what it’s supposed to say. I’ll bet you can’t do it. It’s like swimming a 100 IM in a pool full of Jello.
People, if you’re going to commit anything to writing, please make a passing attempt to make it readable. If you supposedly make your living as a writer, don’t ever, ever do anything like this.