Friday, July 01, 2005

Hackers, Spelling, and Grammar?

Strom Carlson asks Slashdot readers a question I have asked myself many times before:

"Over the last few years, I've noticed that a surprisingly large number of native English speakers, who are otherwise very technically competent, seem to lack strong English skills. Mostly, this seems to manifest itself as varying degrees of poor spelling and grammar: 'definately' instead of 'definitely'; 'should of' instead of 'should have'; and I even see the names of products and companies misspelled from time to time. It baffles me that a culture so obsessed with technical knowledge and accuracy can demonstrate such little attention to detail when it comes to communicating that knowledge with others, and it baffles me even more that many people become enraged when you attempt to help them correct and learn from their mistakes. Do hackers and geeks just not care about communicating effectively? Do they not realize that a mediocre command of written English makes them appear less intelligent? Am I missing something here?"

PS! I'm not a native English speaker (which will from now on be my excuse for any "typos" in this blog), but the sad truth is that my English spelling-accuracy is worse now than it ever was. It appears that the longer I am immersed in an English-speaking culture, the more I tend to write words as I hear them, and not as I know they are spelled. It is as if my brain is shifting from using an internal dictionary of written words, to some phonetic-based audio-library. I'd love to see someone do an fMRI study on this sometime.


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