Wednesday, December 08, 2004


Here's a good link for us writers.

Story? What Corporate America Can't Build: A Sentence.

I'm sure some of us have encountered this sort of thing in the workforce, and I've even encountered some writers and editors who couldn't write and edit, over the long(ish) course of my career. I had one executive editor who had a bad habit of inserting typos into copy that was just about ready for blue lines. Scary stuff, really.

Perhaps those of us who can clearly communicate and even do so without typos or grievous grammatical errors will one day be given the respect we deserve!



Blogger Michèle said...

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7:40 PM  
Blogger Michèle said...

If people only cared . . .

7:41 PM  
Blogger LadyLitBlitzin said...

Hi Michele, thanks for stopping by! I hope some people care; I know I do. And maybe the idea has been highlighted a little more seeing how that book Eats, Shoots and Leaves got a good bit of attention recently.

It floors me to think that so many people just slack off on the written word though -- even people who aren't writers or editors should be able to get through K-12, not to mention college, able to write a decent sentence. (Sigh.)

12:34 AM  
Blogger Jason Hooten said...

I once worked for a manager of a Pharmaceutical company who had me write all of her memos and proof-read all of her emails she sent to "corporate"(How ominious) Now, I will say, I'm not the Grammar King, but it always floored me just how many 'higher ups' had horrible, HORRIBLE, grammar...and yet managed to claw their way up the corporate ladder. Then I realized it wasn't really how well you said or wrote something, but that you used phrases like, "team-building," and "Value-added results." If you could get those words were golden.

It's more about regurgitation than actual creative thought.

Take care,


12:44 AM  
Blogger maikopunk said...

Now if only we could get them to see that editors and writers matter enough to pay decently, us wordy girls could all get rich!
Sometimes I think that everyone can write, but clearly its not true. People can graduate from high school without the slightest talent in hanging a sentence together. My dad used to pay me to mark his papers (Grade 10-12 Social Studies and Geography) and half of them couldn't form a few simple sentences or explain an idea in writing.
The worst is seeing annoying business terms like "think outside the box" creep into people's everyday expression. I just want to club them with their stupid metaphorical box! (Yesterday there was a eulogy of sorts in the paper for a woman who had formed an avaitors club for women back in the 30s. She had gotten her commercial pilots licence, met Amelia Earhart, etc. and the lunkhead nephew describes her as "Someone who really thought outside the box.")
How do I advertise myself as a "communications guru" who will spellcheck, punctuate and de-jargonize these people's emails?

2:57 PM  
Blogger Steve said...

Great Blog. Thanks.

My guess is that the lack of writing skills in corporate America is due to a cultural perfectionism that says to individuals, "if you can't be the best at something, don't even try to do it". Later on, when the tasks they've avoided turn out to be important, they're humiliated by others who have obtained mastery.

Robert Frost once said that free verse poetry is like playing tennis without a net. The same can be said for grammatical conventions. However, it seems to me many writers with less than perfect conventions can be adept at the more metaphorical aspects of writing. I blame their high school English teachers. Someone should have encouraged them to write for the joy of writing without carping on and on about their petty spelling and grammar mistakes.

Look at some of the uSE of LaNgUaGe on teen blogs: It's incomprehensible to me, but I'm pleased that blogger has offered up a platform for their creativity. In my experience, those who really enjoy something eventually become proficient at it.

3:26 PM  
Blogger LadyLitBlitzin said...

Hey everybody, thanks for stopping by!

Jason, that's a good point. There is an awful lot of jargon that I guess passes for people "getting it," on an upper-level management level. You're right, people start throwing around words like "synergies" and, as maikopunk said, "thinking outside of the box" and I guess it says they somehow got their MBAs or something (although, again, HOW they do so without being able to form a sentence properly is beyond me!)

Maikopunk, I hear you. It's true, writing and editorial positions often don't pay very well, and from the things I've seen in my own workplace, it's hard to find good ones, too, which I guess goes right back into what we're speaking of here. Further, as to your experience with schoolkids, man, my roommate's a teacher and she said her kids are kind of convinced they don't need to know how to write because "there's spellcheck." Ugh.

Steve, you have a point, and what's more, if more kids simply read more they'd have a better handle on the English language too, quite probably. Because I would say that was my best lesson, really -- diagramming sentences never really did it for me.

11:27 PM  
Blogger Hebdomeros said...

Those who read, particularly as a kid, can write. It's an old saying, but I really believe it. My dad, for example, is an intelligent man but maybe reads one book a year. I'm sure growing up he read as little as possible. His writing is not as bad as the quote in that article, but it's close.

Reading shapes the brain and lets you know, even on a subconscious level, what works and what doesn't.

8:56 AM  

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