June 05, 2004

It's not that it bothers me, but I do notice so I assume you do too

My usage of punctuation and the other doodads of writing is rather cavalier. I'm sure I use a dash when a semicolon would do, and vice-versa. You may cringe that I throw commas around like a cop writing tickets to meet his quota. Consistancy? Hah! I will damn well italicize whenever I wish, thank you. And I never met a convoluted sentence structure that I didn't like. It should be obvious to all that I hated, Hated, HATED those fiddly bits in English class. But I think the message gets across, which is what it's all about, eh?

I am fishing for comments curious about this. Does my writing make you grit your teeth?

Posted by Ted at June 5, 2004 10:48 AM | TrackBack

Not at all!

I was actually paid to be an editor at one time in my life (which you'd never know by my sloppy writing), and there's a lot more to communication than comma placement. You are very clear, you have a conversational and relaxed style, and I feel like I know you.

Posted by: nic at June 5, 2004 03:29 PM

Huh? No way.

If someone can tell what I meant, and it was typed in a relatively English-like format, then I generally hope that they'll let it go without comment.

As I always say, "You must have known what I meant, otherwise you couldn't have corrected the punctuation".

Posted by: Patton at June 5, 2004 05:24 PM

My use of punctuation is pretty haphazzard, too. I just try to make it look like it sounds and everything usually works out.

And I think your writing style is superb!

Posted by: Tuning Spork at June 5, 2004 05:42 PM

Thanks. :)

I'm serious about the feedback, good and bad, so don't let me commenting kill this thread. Anyone?

Posted by: Ted at June 6, 2004 08:31 AM

Rules?... Ther are rules to these little marks I throw around?... Not being a major fan of "correct" punctuation myself, I'd say you're doing fine. Everything always seems clear, and that's what really matters, no?...

Posted by: Tim at June 6, 2004 09:54 AM

Well, for the most part I agree with the earlier commenters. Your writing style is clear, and as a rule the syntax, spelling, and punctuation isn't all that wince-worthy.

But watch out for the attitude, bub. I don't see it yet, but it's easy for it to slip over into "f* you, gomer, I'm in charge around here, and if I make what looks like a mistake it's because I'm *important* enough to define what's correct."

Spelling, punctuation, and syntax are redundancy, extra bits in the datastream that help to disambiguate errors. One can argue about this or that detail, and a lot of them are just finicking, but overall they're useful if not absolutely necessary, just like the checksum on an IP packet. Saying that you can ignore them with impunity is taking the bean-counter approach: those bits are expensive, don't use so many of them. Which is fine until the channel gets noisy, or some more subtle concept needs to be transmitted, whereupon said bean-counter is terribly disappointed that mistakes get made and nothing is done about it.

Yeah, a relaxed attitude is OK, but think of it this way: the Arabs don't normally put all the vowels in their words, because they're "extra" marks above or below the script and they get lazy. The difference between "virgin" and "raisin" in Arabic is one vowel...


Posted by: Ric Locke at June 6, 2004 08:30 PM

I knew my degree would come in handy for something! (not that i've got it yet though, only just finished my first year and have got 2 left)

*ahem* from my point of view a blog is your way of putting information across. I know personally i write as though i were speaking and therefore it comes across very chatty. I believe you may also do the same, but ina slightly more structured way. Bear with me, i'm getting to the point! Written speech and spoken speech follow very different sets of rules. What is ok in speech looks "wrong" in writing and similarly if you were to talk with "perfect" grammar you'd sound like a weirdo!

So, this brings me to my point. Your writing is a reflection of your speech, therefore your grammar and punctation reflects that you use in everyday life. It's not as if you have to submit this to an English teacher. If you did they would go through it with a red pen saying "too chatty", "what does this mean?" & "why have you done this?" and they would then re-edit it until it is no longer a piece of work that contains a bit of you.

We understand everything because you right for us. Don't worry about your use of punctuation. If however youa re that concerned I have a very boring book on syntax and another one on morphology you could borrow.

Ah the wonders of English linguistics... how i love my degree!


Posted by: Lemurgirl at June 7, 2004 04:50 AM

I don't see anything wrong with it either. I usually am very conscious about the way I write because English is my second language but I don't want to sound (or read/write) like it. My problem is spelling. I agree that your blog is more like a speech rather than a term paper and therefore it's not really important if you use punctuation right. I always have (even at college) put commans where I "felt" there should go.

Posted by: Blogeline at June 7, 2004 01:19 PM

I like your style. Once you know the rules it's okay to break them. I scored absurdly high in English and I know the rules, but I often choose not to follow them because what you're writing is makes a big difference.

I do a lot of business writing and follow rules to the letter, but on my blog--pshaw!

If you've never tried it, type a few lines from a great novel into MS Word and watch it destroy the beauty and pace. Especially writers like Hemingway who knew how to craft a sentence.

Besides, creative punctuation is used on many blogs to illustrate timing.

All that aside, great job.

Posted by: Paul at June 7, 2004 04:03 PM

Umm, Ted, you misspelled "consistency," so I completely missed the point of your post.


Seriously, your writing style is great, and you make fewer spelling and punctuation errors than most bloggers. My job is all about words, so I am usually a pretty tough critic (although I usually reserve my harshest criticism for fellow lawyers). No complaints here.

Posted by: John Lanius at June 7, 2004 04:21 PM

Thanks everyone, the input is appreciated.

Posted by: Ted at June 8, 2004 11:09 AM

Nah Ted, your writing doesn't make me grind my teeth. Well, not any more. At least not since most of them broke...


Posted by: Wind Rider at June 8, 2004 02:54 PM

I read blogs for content, unlike my "Paco the Angry Hispanic" who keeps correcting my grammar (for the record, it's Shawn doing it). Really fucking annoys me to be corrected in public. Anyway, I'm off topic. I think you're a damn good writer, you present clear and interesting concepts, and so what if there's an errant comma here or there? Much better than having perfect grammar and nothing to say. ...

Posted by: dawn at June 9, 2004 02:08 PM

The comments I get on my writing style amuse the hell out of me. I LOVE exlamation points, italicizing & frequently putting things in parenthesis (just love to set things apart)!! In other words, I write like I talk - animated, frequent asides and often off-track.

Posted by: Fierylynx at June 22, 2004 04:29 PM
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