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Spelling and grammar


doG
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I notice that some of the self-proclaimed scientists that drop by to present their allegedly new science have no better than a primary school level of spelling and grammar, even with tools to help them get it right. For me such inattention to detail, and the laziness to care about the quality of their presentation, undermines the credibility of their ideas from the get go. How do you feel about it?

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How do you feel about it?

I have noticed exactly the same. I suspect an analysis of crackpot posts in internet fora would make a very good subject for a psychology master's thesis.

 

That said, every time I criticize someone's bad spellin or grammer in a post, someone else points to a grammatical error in my critique or in some other post of mine. I have learned to keep my mouth in said regard.

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I've known some really smart people that couldn't spell worth a damn; cranks have no monopoly in this. But universal affirmatives can only be partially converted (even if all cranks can't spell, only part of poor spellers are cranks)

 

The bottom line is poor spelling and grammar doesn't come across well. I remember a student, worried about lab grades, once asking, "Does spelling count?" Spelling always counts.

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My spelling (and typing) is terrible. I am sure saw on the TV News that there is no correlation between intelligence and spelling.
There may be no correlation between spelling and intelligence, but there is one between spelling and understanding. We have a harder job on an internet forum making ourselves understood and I feel that it's only proper rigor and respect for your audience that you do everything possible to increase comprehension.

 

Text speak in a science forum is lazy, inappropriate and disrespectful. <<<(please note the period)

 

All that said, I've noticed that people who learned the phonics approach to reading are worse spellers than those who rely on visual input alone. Phonics pholks are more fluent and faster readers, while we non-pholks have to memorize every word to get it right.

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there may be no correlation between spelling and intelligence, but there is one between spelling and understanding. We have a harder job on an internet forum making ourselves understood and i feel that it's only proper rigor and respect for your audience that you do everything possible to increase comprehension.

 

Text speak in a science forum is lazy, inappropriate and disrespectful.

[acr=quoted for truth]qft[/acr]

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Text speak in a science forum is lazy, inappropriate and disrespectful. <<<(please note the period)

 

the fact that it comes on the end of a paragraph kinda implies that it's the end of the sentance, thus removing the need for a full-stop

 

stuff like that doesn't bother me, because it doesn't really detract from the understandableness. the rules of the 'inglish langwij' are dumb, and i don't blame anyone who can't get them down to pat (espescially as they may well be foreighn, english being the linga franca and all), and, anyway, the only hope we'll have of fixing our spelling system is if people rebel against the dumbest aspects of it.

 

otoh, if someone, say, just can't be arsed with commas then that's pretty damn annoying.

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another thing that is extremely annoying is ,putting commas. and periods in the wrong place and ; with the wrong spacing yeah i hate that and i hate run-on sentences that go on and on without any breaks sometimes for pages and pages while the poster rants on the ,whew evils of george bush or michael moore pick your poison and wouldnt some capital letters be nice every once in a while ?????? of course the question mark is good so many are better than one !!!!!!!

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heh, i nearly did a sentance like that as an example, but it just annoyed me too much so i deleted it.

 

only thing i'd disagree with is the capitals: they're usually redundant. following a full-stop, or being a proper noun, is usually enough imo.

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I disagree. Capitalization is much more important than are periods as far as recognition and understanding are concerned. Those leading capitals scream "A sentence starts here". That little period is a nice addition.

 

As an aside, a font with serifs is also a great recognition aid. I really don't like the sans serif font used here at Science Forums. The reason for having a font with serifs is simple: Our eyes are excellent shape recognizers.

 

It is very easy to tell whether a journal uses LaTeX or some lesser layout scheme just from a glance. Knuth did a lot research on fonts, kerning, and spacing in the development of the original TeX. TeX-based articles are a pleasure to read because the printed result provides excellent visual cues for recognizing words and separating sentences and paragraphs.

 

Knuth of course did not research how best to deal with sentences without capitalization.

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We have a number of contributors to this forum for whom English is a second language. Those people often misspell or use poor grammar. They have my total admiration. Their science is often excellent. Their English is adequate, and a damn sight better than any foreign tongue I possess! And their courage is admirable. To all you guys with a different mother tongue, forget the mistakes in spelling and grammar and keep those valuable contributions coming!

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Perhaps we can look to the American "founding fathers" for an answer. Below is the little-known "second and a half" amendment to the Constitution:

 

A well regarded grammar, being necessary to the security of the English language, the right to punctuate as I please, shall not be infringed.

 

<scratches head> Okay, maybe not.

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We have a number of contributors to this forum for whom English is a second language. Those people often misspell or use poor grammar. They have my total admiration. Their science is often excellent. Their English is adequate, and a damn sight better than any foreign tongue I possess! And their courage is admirable. To all you guys with a different mother tongue, forget the mistakes in spelling and grammar and keep those valuable contributions coming!

 

\o/ yeah! ;)

 

I haven't contributed much scientificaly since I'm in a low level at school stuff by my age. But I loved what you said! Sometimes, a dictionary becomes necessary of course, but I am always trying to participate somehow since I loved this forum and it's the first foreign one I do participate. Thanks a lot! :D

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I have no problem with someone for whom English is a second language. You can still get a sense of their approach, and understand their tone.

 

When someone knows English as a first language, however, and they still mess up and use poor spelling and grammar, it often is an immediate reason for me to respect them less.

 

If you genuinely are just not experienced enough to use the language, that is one thing.

If you have all of the experience you need and still screw it up, it makes you look stupid.

 

We all make mistakes. I think what doG is driving at speaks more about the fact that so many people don't care enough to correct said mistakes when they have every tool at their disposal to do so. It shows a lack of rigor and devotion to expressing their ideas clearly.

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There will always be spelling and grammar mistakes. It's just how prevalent they are. I have issues getting through something that has gross issues that confuses the content. Small typos are easily tolerated. However, many mistakes can be caught with a quick proofing before the "send" button is pushed.

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As an aside, a font with serifs is also a great recognition aid. I really don't like the sans serif font used here at Science Forums. The reason for having a font with serifs is simple: Our eyes are excellent shape recognizers.

From what I've read, fonts with serifs aren't good choices for web sites because computer monitors don't have the same resolution as decent print media, and so the serifs end up being nasty.

 

I can put up an alternative theme with a serif font. Is there a font face you prefer?

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From what I've read, fonts with serifs aren't good choices for web sites because computer monitors don't have the same resolution as decent print media, and so the serifs end up being nasty.

A lot of work was done on computer fonts back in the day when 640x480 was high resolution. Seriffed fonts had a big dazzling (pun intented) problem then, so development work was almost exclusively on sans serif fonts. Its not such a big issue now, but we are basically stuck with the fonts developed for use 640x480 monitors. We will be stuck with Arial for about as long as we have been stuck with QWERTY keyboards.

 

I can put up an alternative theme with a serif font. Is there a font face you prefer?

 

Nah, don't bother. It's just a minor pet peave. I used fonts as an analogy for why capitalization is important. TOO MUCH CAPITALIZATION OF COURSE HINDERS UNDERSTANDING, WHICH IS WHY IMPORTANT LEGAL CLAUSES ARE ALMOST ALWAYS PRINTED IN ALL CAPS.

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Text speak in a science forum is lazy, inappropriate and disrespectful. <<<(please note the period)

 

Also note that it is inappropriate to leave out a --^ comma separating independent items in a list of three or more items.

 

Spelling and grammar are part of my troll/crackpot detection tools. If someone posts a bunch of bullshit and is too uneducated or can't be arsed to write properly, it counts against them. That is, if someone has nothing to say and can't say it anyhow, why should I listen?

 

However, if they have something valuable to say but have trouble with spelling and grammar, that doesn't bother me nearly as much.

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95%+ of the time, texts are hard to read because;

 

- The formatting (i.e.: not written with TeX). It should be illegal to write mathematical equations in plain text :). Long paragraphs and bad punctuations are also to blame.

 

- The author is making a deliberate effort to make things complicated, either because he's "cool" and doesn't care if you understand his alternative spelling, or he likes to express simple ideas in a complicated matter (e.g.: poetry, the Devil's language).

 

- But most of the time, it's simply because the author can't express his idea clearly, either because he can't express any idea clearly, or because he's not familiar enough with the language.

 

Honestly I really don't care about spelling & grammar, I think we should keep our language as simple as possible, which means we should be more tolerant of small deviations, as long as we can understand. A language is just a tool to express ideas, we should only enforce rules if they really help us achieve that goal.

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Are we talking about the IOxford comma now?

 

There's a good song about that? It starts something like "Who gives a **** about an Oxford comma"...

 

Some journals insist on them, some insist that that they are not included, rather annoying.

 

But on a more serious note, I'm dyslexic, I make so many spelling mistakes in my posts it's not even funny, but Firefox underlines them and I change the vast majority of them, it kills me when I switch back to windows and find that not every program I use has a spell checker running all the time.

 

\o/ yeah! ;)

 

I haven't contributed much scientificaly since I'm in a low level at school stuff by my age. But I loved what you said! Sometimes, a dictionary becomes necessary of course, but I am always trying to participate somehow since I loved this forum and it's the first foreign one I do participate. Thanks a lot! :D

 

I am often surprised when someone says that English is not their first language, as it is often far better than for those who it is.

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I am often surprised when someone says that English is not their first language, as it is often far better than for those who it is.

 

Germans I've noticed who speak English (well) as a second language tend to be much clearer with it than most Anglophones.

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I think what doG is driving at speaks more about the fact that so many people don't care enough to correct said mistakes when they have every tool at their disposal to do so. It shows a lack of rigor and devotion to expressing their ideas clearly.

 

Yes, that was my point. If some of these so called new science theorists lack the effort to be clear in their presentation how can you expect that they have made the effort required to do good science? Do they double check their math or make sure it passes the basic dimensional analysis? Are they careful of the data they use?

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