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The Illiteracy of Corporate American E-Mail

michael posted more than 9 years ago | from the ask-not-for-whom-the-spellchecker-tolls dept.

It's funny.  Laugh. 1267

Dave writes "There is a pretty amusing/sad article about functional illiteracy when it comes to professional e-mails. Some of the samples are just ridiculous."

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

How they become? (5, Interesting)

fembots (753724) | more than 9 years ago | (#11024988)

How did these employees get into the company door in the first place? Didn't they have to write some sort of CV that their employers can understand? Or are they gradually getting worse in the corporate/email environment?

P.S. This are one of the Slashdot articles that I am so worrifiedably scared to be picked at by one of these Spelling/Grandma Nazis [] .

Re:How they become? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11025099)

This are one...

You started it!

Re:How they become? (5, Interesting)

eln (21727) | more than 9 years ago | (#11025133)

A lot of people usually get a lot of help writing their resumes. Once they get into the workforce, there is a prevailing myth among the plebes that spelling and grammar don't matter, as long as the message is right. However, this ignores the fact that bad spelling and grammar can severely impact the coherency of any message, as well as hurting the credibility of the author.

There have been several times when advertising departments at places I've worked have let huge glossies and other very visible ads get all the way through printing with major spelling and grammatical errors. How can anyone take a company seriously if it looks like everyone at that company is illiterate?

Re:How they become? (2, Funny)

maxume (22995) | more than 9 years ago | (#11025168)

I would imagine that illiterates don't spend too much time worrying over the correctness of the materials a company puts out and take them just as seriously as any other company.

Re:How they become? (5, Informative)

mordors9 (665662) | more than 9 years ago | (#11025138)

I work for a fairly large corporation and supervise a group of people. I used to think the spelling mistakes were just typing errors, that all of the grammatical mistakes and punctuation errors were just laziness. Don't get me wrong, I mistype words occasionally and I certainly do not always use perfect grammar. But, I see an awful lot of emails and reports that are nearly incomprehensible. I have also come to the conclusion that an awful lot of people really do not know how to spell or have a basic understanding of grammar. I guess further evidence that our public education system is failing miserably.

Re:How they become? (2, Interesting)

calibanDNS (32250) | more than 9 years ago | (#11025155)

With a CV, you can spend a lot of time reviewing it and have it professionaly reviewed. If you apply to any job without having at least one other person proof it, you're insane.

I think one of the problems with email is that it's so easy to prepare and send one that many people don't believe that an email needs to be correct. I don't claim to be very proficient with the English language, but I at least run spell check before sending an email, which is more than I can say for almost all of my coworkers.

Re:How they become? (1)

Robber Baron (112304) | more than 9 years ago | (#11025282)

If you apply to any job without having at least one other person proof it, you're insane.

Then who proofs the proofer's CV?

H-1Bs: Chinese Engineer vs. American Engineer (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11025178)

The article starting this thread of discussion is remiss in not mentioning the difference between H-1B engineers and American engineers. The problem is not American engineers. Most do know how to write in understandable English.

The problem is Chinese engineers (i.e. including those from Taiwan province and Hong Kong) [] . Most Chinese engineers cannot write and speak in intelligible English. The example mentioned in the article is the perfect example of an H-1B engineer who cannot communicate in English.

Re:How they become? (1)

k4_pacific (736911) | more than 9 years ago | (#11025195)

Given that the Nazi party was defeated in 1945, I'd say that most surviving Nazis are likely Grandmas or Grandpas.

Re:How they become? (2, Interesting)

AndroidCat (229562) | more than 9 years ago | (#11025218)

Possibly they paid someone else to polish it into shape? What are really sad are the posts on the *.jobs Usenet groups: frequently illiterate rants about how they never hear back from headhunters, and asking why language skills important for a technical position. (I know that their cover letters aren't any better. Many will fire a resume at any valid email address they can find, without bothering to read the post--which isn't a job offer.)

P.S. About that "worrifiedably" ... :)

Re:How they become? (2, Funny)

Fizzlewhiff (256410) | more than 9 years ago | (#11025223)

I read Slashdot comments and wonder the same thing.

I'd be happy (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11024989)

If people could just learn to write their replies BELOW what they're quoting. Top posting is just wrong.

Re:I'd be happy (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11025022)

No, it is not.

If people could just learn to write their replies BELOW what they're quoting. Top posting is just wrong.

Re:I'd be happy (2, Funny)

eobanb (823187) | more than 9 years ago | (#11025217)

No, it is not.

Personally, I like being in the middle.

If people could just learn to write their replies BELOW what they're quoting. Top posting is just wrong.

H-1Bs: Chinese Engineers vs. American Engineers (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11025113)

The article starting this thread of discussion is remiss in not mentioning the difference between H-1B engineers and American engineers. The problem is not American engineers. Most do know how to write in understandable English.

The problem is Chinese engineers (i.e. including those from Taiwan province and Hong Kong) [] . Most Chinese engineers cannot write and speak in intelligible English. The example mentioned in the article is the perfect example of an H-1B engineer who cannot communicate in English.

Re:H-1Bs: Chinese Engineers vs. American Engineers (1)

AndroidCat (229562) | more than 9 years ago | (#11025280)

The problem is not American engineers. Most do know how to write in understandable English.


Re:I'd be happy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11025175)

Except you already know what you wrote. why should I tell you again!

Re:I'd be happy (1)

eln (21727) | more than 9 years ago | (#11025180)

Talk to the geniuses at Microsoft who decided top posting would be the default behavior in Outlook. Most people are just too lazy or don't care enough to edit their emails to that extent.

Re:I'd be happy (1)

John Courtland (585609) | more than 9 years ago | (#11025281)

I personally top-post because, during my days as a bottom-poster, many people couldn't be bothered to learn the interface and "scroll down" to where my message was. So they'd simply assume I sent them nothing. It saves both of us time if I just type the email the way I know they'll read it, even if it isn't the preferred format :)

Hammer (1)

hammer revolution (836067) | more than 9 years ago | (#11024990)


The Hammer Revolution has begun.


Conspicuously... (5, Funny)

MoxCamel (20484) | more than 9 years ago | (#11024994)

This wasn't posted by CmdrTaco. I'm just saying.


Re:Conspicuously... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11025040)

i arrs gud postar/edator #1!!111 CmdrTaco

Heh (2, Funny)

Neil Blender (555885) | more than 9 years ago | (#11025000)

Funny this story being on Slashdot. If email had editors, maybe they wouldn't be so bad.

(no subject) (2, Funny)

eobanb (823187) | more than 9 years ago | (#11025110)

i visit slashdot alot its a great web-site but i might get fired soon because i visit slashdot instead of doing work i have a report do later today and i should of been doing it instead of reading articels.

I got (1)

bool morpheus() (689231) | more than 9 years ago | (#11025001)

a note from my boss once that read "Little vat no wrok. Cal Roy in moring -J"

Re:I got (1)

fitten (521191) | more than 9 years ago | (#11025147)

We got a ticket like this once, but it was used to emphasize the point:

wouldyoupleasereplacethekeyboardonthismachinebec au sethespacebardoesn'tworkanymore.

All because of vatican 2 (5, Funny)

yorkpaddy (830859) | more than 9 years ago | (#11025018)

See what happens when you stop saying mass in Latin.

Re:All because of vatican 2 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11025163)

yeah, great. So, instead of not being able to tell whether or not the grammer and spelling is correct, now we can.

Re:All because of vatican 2 (1)

jd (1658) | more than 9 years ago | (#11025228)

You might be able to find a story on that, in the archives [] .

In Kereeah (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11025019)

onlee uhld peeple spll kurrectly...

My personal favorite (5, Funny)

Anonymous Crowhead (577505) | more than 9 years ago | (#11025027)

The subject line email:

Body: (empty)

Re:My personal favorite (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11025084)

The memo was about the use of "n/t" at the end of the subject to indicate no body.

In case it's slashdotted: (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11025031)

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Is this a professional or a kid? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11025036)

Unprofessional writing like this reminds me of Terry and his lost frog [] .

"him name is hopkin green frog"

what about (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11025037)

the ilitracy of firs posts?

Translated... (1)

Kjuib (584451) | more than 9 years ago | (#11025038)

Can anyone translate this into a picture book/page, I cannot read.

the email b lurt.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11025052) a sadd cultrual phenommenlo


Very Inprofesional (5, Funny)

Lieutenant_Dan (583843) | more than 9 years ago | (#11025055)

I find it lidicrous how people making 100000$ or more a year, just canot spell or at least use the spelchecker.

It's a disgracement.

Re:Very Inprofesional (1)

EvanED (569694) | more than 9 years ago | (#11025149)

Mary hat hay lid tell lamb
ids fleas woes wide has know

(Stolen from Foxtrot)

Re:Very Inprofesional (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11025192)

hello i woud like to point out that you speld lidircrous wrong it is speld ludicrous thank you ps please be careful how u spell things on public fourams

Re:Very Inprofesional (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11025245)

Eye donut knead spill chucker, aye kneed grandma chicken.

Re:Very Inprofesional (5, Interesting)

porkUpine (623110) | more than 9 years ago | (#11025267)

I wish I could mod your post +1 (Sad but True). Our CFO sends out company wide emails that make no sense at all. I often wonder how she was able to (lie/cheat/steal) her way into that position. It is embarrassing when the CFO of a 1+Billion dollar a year company cannot tell the difference between patience/patients or capitol/capital. Now, I'm not perfect... but I also don't send out company wide email very often. When I do have to send out email to others in the company I do this old fashioned thing called "Proof-reading". *sigh* (sad but true)

Saw a similar article on the BBC a few days ago (2, Informative)

boringgit (721801) | more than 9 years ago | (#11025059)

Takes a different tach - in this case it points out quite how bad emails can be in a corporate environment.

From irritating, to rude - often without meaning to be...

Sometimes I am glad to be employed in shipping - characters cost - fewer are better ;)

i m a l337 riter! (4, Insightful)

bennomatic (691188) | more than 9 years ago | (#11025062)

People just don't care anymore, do they? Capitalization, their-they're-there, you're-your, mixing tenses, dangling modifiers, unclear use of pronouns and run-on sentences are just a few of the most common problems. My wife has finally given me the validation I need in that she has me look over official correspondence she writes because I am, in her words, the grammar police.

My spelling's pretty good, too, but not perfect, so no flames please!

Re:i m a l337 riter! (1)

eikonoklastes (530797) | more than 9 years ago | (#11025220)

It's worse than "People just don't care anymore". There's an actual mentality that email is the equivalent of the post-it note and is designed for quick and dirty messages. My mother insists (and she's a head honcho where she works) that email messages should be short and quick and not too much time is spent on punctuation or proof-reading. That would be a loss of (and I quote) productivity with the time wasted.

Re:i m a l337 riter! (3, Interesting)

syle (638903) | more than 9 years ago | (#11025244)

Message boards and AIM are grammar death. I was sitting next to a 40 year old business man on a flight a couple weeks ago who was componsing email on a laptop. "Cindy, can u pls send this to Mark?? thx"

The signature appended to every message said his name, company, and job title: "CEO."

Re:i m a l337 riter! (1)

syle (638903) | more than 9 years ago | (#11025273)

Yes, I typo'd "composing." Look mom I proved my own point!

"hI KATHY i am sending u the assignmnet again," (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11025063)

Thank you for destroying the English language AOL!

Time to ditch the English Language? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11025064)

Seriously. English is one of the hardest, most bastardized language in the world. Only Japanese is worse, and I have studied Japanese so I think the linguists are right in giving it first place.

Heck, I don't even think in English. However, I think in a simplified version of English. When I type, I make many spelling and grammar errors because I am constantly going back and editing what I wrote to make sure all of the inflections are right. An awful lot of mistakes are made because I don't proof-read what I have edited after writing down my thoughs.

I'll never become a writer. It has nothing to do with my education, but rather the fact that I make money turning ideas into software not prose. I'd be better off using my time to learn how to write software better than to write better essays.

Re:Time to ditch the English Language? (2, Insightful)

goates (412876) | more than 9 years ago | (#11025203)

What's the point of writing software if you can't explain to anyone what it does? The same goes for engineering and every other technical profession. And you had better hope that doctors can clearly write out a prescription too.

Proof reading isn't a waste of time. Only the lazy would argue that.

Not too suprising (1, Insightful)

drakethegreat (832715) | more than 9 years ago | (#11025065)

To me this doesn't come as a shocker. American's lag in education and it seems we are becoming increasingly lazy and more reliant on others. Its all about the money rather then anything else.

Re:Not too suprising (2, Informative)

James_Duncan8181 (588316) | more than 9 years ago | (#11025197)

Amusingly "American's" should not have a commar as it is merely plural, not indicative of ownership.

Re:Not too suprising (3, Insightful)

boringgit (721801) | more than 9 years ago | (#11025234)

You are too hard on yourselves.

Trust me, I am British. "Yank Bashing" is something of a national sport since the empire fell apart ;)

Bad email is not in any way an America only thing (neither are falling standards in education!). I have seen emails sent to customers which make me cringe. I know people for whom English is a 4th of 5th language who can compose better emails than some born and bred Brits.

A letter would be passed to a workmate to "have a quick look at", or typed by a secretary. Email is seen as being in some way less important. Wrongly so!

sorry, had to do it: (2, Funny)

w98 (831730) | more than 9 years ago | (#11025081)

All your base are belong to us

Re:sorry, had to do it: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11025209)


I now own all your bases.

I second that (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11025082)

I know someone who edits company releases for a living. She has a formula for how bad the writing will be: the higher up the managment chain, the less coherent the information will be..

Some help needed here... (2, Funny)

z3021017 (806883) | more than 9 years ago | (#11025083)

Looks like they need some help from the Bad Boys of Punctuation [] !

Sigh (1)

somethinghollow (530478) | more than 9 years ago | (#11025095)

This is sadly all-to-familiar. I do graphic design work on the side, and the guy who rounds up the business cannot type a legible message to save his life. The sad part is that some of my projects are assigned via e-mail, and I end up spending 30 minutes just trying to figure out what he means. (Mildly off-topic, but...) I know that it's super cool now-a-days to use "u" and "ur" and those types of abbreviations, but I think the English language is being butchered (which isn't saying much because the English language is butchering many other languages) by this modern lack-of-respect for spelling, grammar (or some semblance of grammar, to cover my own ass), and overly-shortened words. But, I guess it this is the only real ill the Internet does for the world, the good far out weighs the bad.

you can lay down the law (1)

ChipMonk (711367) | more than 9 years ago | (#11025235)

When customer requests are involved, you can tell him (in so many words), "Failure to write clearly will result in an incomplete product specification. Therefore: You will use entire words and sentences. You will break your text into reasonable paragraphs. You will explain in clear words what the customer wants. If you do not, I will send it back to you for a re-write, no matter how small the infraction. Any delay resulting from this will not be my responsibility. This is not negotiable."

Re:Sigh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11025271)

How embarassing for someone to comment on other people's english, and completly f@ck it up themselves.

Try 'all *TOO* familiar' next time jackass. Let me guess, it's not *you're* fault, *do* to outside influence?

Sad but true. (4, Interesting)

slusich (684826) | more than 9 years ago | (#11025096)

Far too many professionals simply cannot manage to type out a readable email. People with college degrees in high paying jobs should have some degree of competency with the English language. I have to wonder if this has less to do with the format of email and more to do with the disappearance of secretaries.

Illiterate? Or just unprofessional? (5, Insightful)

beeplet (735701) | more than 9 years ago | (#11025111)

It seems like there are two separate possible problems here: people are coming into a company without the writing skills they need, and/or employees are not treating email communication with the same professionalism as other company documents.

For the first problem, either a) don't hire people who can't write, or b) provide on-the job training to bring writing skills up to an acceptable level.

For the second, I think the company needs to make a clear set of standards for both internal and external communication, and enforce them. External communication - to customers, etc. - is particularly important. Anything as badly written as those examples would be deleted from my inbox before I got to the end of the first sentence.

I used to work as a technical writer for a large company, and they kept us busy. It's fine to hire engineers who are good at what they do, even if they don't have great writing skills - as log as you also hire someone to decipher and rewrite everything that comes out of the engineering dept.

PS. I respectfully submit that the headline should read either "The illegibility of email" or "The illiteracy of corporate america"... I might try to make my email literary, but not literate (and my slashdot posts are probably neither...) :)

Spelling And Grammar Still Apply (4, Interesting)

A Red Pikmin (829779) | more than 9 years ago | (#11025112)

For some reason I've never understood, a lot of people seem to think that because they write electronically, they don't have to spell correctly or use proper grammar. And even if they are naturally bad at such things, it's not like most e-mail clients lack spelling and/or grammar checks. I have no idea why people do this; especially in a situation like this where the writing is more formal and precise. Although for myself, I've conformed to more or less standard writing form in electronic communications.

Not Problem (1)

trilks (794531) | more than 9 years ago | (#11025114)

Email grammer are good enough Everyone rights good on /. to.

Mr Pot, (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11025120)

Meet Mr Kettle.

Come on, I can see the humor in this in its own right, but this is /. 'fer christ's sake!

Just Waiting For It.... (1)

Stephen Samuel (106962) | more than 9 years ago | (#11025121)

Methinks the Grammar Nazis are gonna go hog-wild on this thread.

*sigh* (2, Funny)

Raynach (713366) | more than 9 years ago | (#11025125)

Boss: (no subject)
j00 r fir3d!!!11 pwnz3d!!

u hax!!1

Nice to see that we can still keep it professional here.

Dilbert would be proud (1)

Jrod5000 at RPI (229934) | more than 9 years ago | (#11025130)

Today I got an email inviting me to a meeting with the description, "We need to get together and create a plan for the plan..." YES! Planning for the plan! HOW PRODUCTIVE AND INGENIOUS! I'm pretty sure it was a typo resulting from two sentence fragments jammed together, but it maked my manager look like a fool. sadly, i get stuff like that all the time. yay for military contracting. big bucks, small brains.

Learn Them Some Grammar (3, Funny)

Ctrl+Alt+De1337 (837964) | more than 9 years ago | (#11025135)

It sounds like there are a lot of people who could use some lessons from Strong Bad's Rhythm and Grammar [] . Though there's a helpful song near the beginning, wait until the end and click on the arm then the CD a few times.

Spell Czech (5, Funny)

Easy2RememberNick (179395) | more than 9 years ago | (#11025137)

Eye halve a spelling chequer. It came with my pea sea.
It plainly marques four my revue miss steaks eye kin knot sea.

Eye strike a key and type a word and weight four it two say
Weather eye am wrong oar write. It shows me strait a weigh.

As soon as a mist ache is maid. It nose bee fore two long
And eye can put the error rite. Its rarely ever wrong.

Eye have run this poem threw it. I am shore your pleased two no.
Its letter perfect in it's weight. My chequer tolled me sew.

Sauce Unknown

(Reader's Digest.)

It will only get worse. (3, Interesting)

RobTheJedi (547899) | more than 9 years ago | (#11025143)

As more and more people are using phones with SMS/Text messaging capability, their spelling and punctuation will only get worse. Not to mention all the cryptic acronyms. My spelling and grammar are not the greatest, but I married an English major to compensate.

Have they ever heard of English as a 2nd language? (2, Informative)

updog (608318) | more than 9 years ago | (#11025151)

"Considering how highly educated our people are, many can't write clearly in their day-to-day work."

The article doesn't once mention the possibility that the authors of some of these emails may not have learned English as their primary language. Here's a new flash for them: English is not the most widely spoken language in the world (Chinese is).

As we have more and more global influence in America's corporate workplace, we're going to see more and more people who have learned English as a 2nd language, which is probably the real reason why "corporate America can't build a sentence".

Re:Have they ever heard of English as a 2nd langua (4, Insightful)

Ahnteis (746045) | more than 9 years ago | (#11025257)

Newsflash: In corporate AMERICA, English is required learning.

Newsflash 2: People who speak English as a second language are often better at correct grammar then native English-speakers.

When corporate email goes bad (3, Funny)

Himring (646324) | more than 9 years ago | (#11025153)

I got this email from our training supervisor one day. He's a cool guy and we joke a lot. His email was like, "how's it going?" And I wrote back, "my ovaries hurt" (I'mma guy btw), and then he writes back, "50 people in the training room just read that.... [he had his desktop pulled up on the big screen]." He was training on email that day.

Erm, I'mma not sure if that was grammatically correct r not....

Language evolves... (1, Informative)

k4_pacific (736911) | more than 9 years ago | (#11025165)

Get over it. Over time, the writers of this broken English will develop a sense of what sounds right and what doesn't and it will be a recognized dialect of English.

Perhaps this is just language becoming more efficient, closer to total information entropy.

Holy crap! (5, Funny)

wolfemi1 (765089) | more than 9 years ago | (#11025167)

Corporate American e-mail can't read?

God help us (2, Insightful)

kuwan (443684) | more than 9 years ago | (#11025173)

Not everyone agrees. Kaitlin Duck Sherwood of San Francisco, author of a popular how-to manual on effective e-mail, argued in an interview that exclamation points could help convey intonation, thereby avoiding confusion in some e-mail.

"If you want to indicate stronger emphasis, use all capital letters and toss in some extra exclamation points," Sherwood advises in her guide...

Personally I like the other person's suggestion that you should be allowed only two exclamation points in [your] whole life. I've seen SO MANY DAMN CAPS and exclamation points!!! that I WANT TO SHOOT SOMEONE!!!!!

Sounds like a scam, but it works. []
Free Flat Screens [] | Free iPod Photo []

Illiteracy (1)

jd (1658) | more than 9 years ago | (#11025179)

Ok, so that's all three R's the Western world is bad at, and all covered in one day on Slashdot!

Pathe News [] demonstrates, though, that this is not a new problem, or limited to the Americas.

I want a meeting over this! (1)

Dystopian Rebel (714995) | more than 9 years ago | (#11025181)

Re: Illiteracy In The Workplace


Moving forward, I think this issue runs counter to our ethos and partner-committments in the current ecosystem.

Please give the team a heads up and touch base with them over this so we can ramp everyone up on the issue and have an ideas-exchange in the short to medium time-frame.

If there's issues and anyone has any comments or concerns, have them bring their solutions-focussed recommendations.

Your Manager

Schools are Working as Planned (1)

jazman_777 (44742) | more than 9 years ago | (#11025183)

The government school system does not exist to make intelligent, articulate, well-read (breadth and depth) people who have coherent thought processes and write well. If you want your children to be that way, hop to it--that's your responsibility.

1f u c4n r34d th1s u r34lly n33d t0 g37 l41d (5, Funny)

Triumph The Insult C (586706) | more than 9 years ago | (#11025193)

s0? irc rul3z. ema!l iz 4 lam3rz n3way

The Illiteracy of Corporate American E-Mail (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11025200)


Learning to type (1)

proteonic (688830) | more than 9 years ago | (#11025204)

I would argue that some of this is happening because people do not necessarily bother to learn how to type properly. Consequently, it takes more effort to properly punctuate and capitalize those emails. Correct spelling is that much more of a chore as well (including making corrections). As far as grammar, one could argue that if someone's concentrating on typing, they're not necessarily focused on proper sentence structure.

None the less, it's still pretty pathetic and inexcusable. It can't hurt to read it over before pressing "send".

Obligory quote (4, Funny)

DragonPup (302885) | more than 9 years ago | (#11025206)

"Me fail english? That unpossible!"

Problem is... (2, Insightful)

Sebby (238625) | more than 9 years ago | (#11025215)

People write emails like they speak. No, I'm not talking about 'getto' talk, or anything like that - what I mean is that they type stuff,don't look back, and just send it. They don't take the time to re-read what they wrote to make sure it's correct, clear or coherent.

Add to that the fact that most people are slow at typing, and their thoughts outrun their fingers and they forget to type some of those words. I see this every day in our online support desk requests.

People just need to take the time to read what they write in their correspondance, and most just don't.

I Love It! (1)

domukun367 (681095) | more than 9 years ago | (#11025221)

I'm happy with this "functional illiteracy" of the unwashed masses of my colleagues: all my emails contain correct spelling, grammar, punctuation, form etc.

It makes me look so much more professional than my colleagues, with their "SMS grammar and spelling". People always pay more attention and give more respect to properly written emails and documents.

Can you imagine? (1)

Saeed al-Sahaf (665390) | more than 9 years ago | (#11025224)

From the story:

"It's not that companies want to hire Tolstoy," said Susan Traiman, a director at the Business Roundtable, an association of leading chief executives whose corporations were surveyed in the study.

Can you imagine if Tolstoy where around today and had to write an email style manual?

It's not funny (1)

shrikel (535309) | more than 9 years ago | (#11025226)

I am almost disappointed to see this story listed as "funny." It's actually tragic, in my opinion.

Granted, I am a word purist. I hate to see people slaughter the written language. That is, I don't mind it at all when it's intentional. But when so many people are incapable of writing a coherent email in a serious situation, there's a problem. I like the part in the article where he says that multiple exclamation points, smileys, etc. are fine in personal emails, but too many people just drool into their outbox.

Almost nothing I come across bugs me more than the pseudo word 'ur.' (Yes, Ur is a place. 'ur' is not a proper contraction for 'your' or 'you're.')

What's so special about e-mail? (1)

Technically Inept (715181) | more than 9 years ago | (#11025229)

e-mail illiteracy is just illiteracy. The rise of e-mail is just exposing how many people used to get by without writing anything down.

Yeah tell me about it! (1)

syousef (465911) | more than 9 years ago | (#11025231)

D00d do u kn0w h0w f3w 0f th3 c0d3rz I w3rk w1th g3t l33t sp3ak? 1t Sh0uld b3 a un1 c1a33 w1th 3xamz nd a11!

I don't need e-mail! (1)

CrystalFalcon (233559) | more than 9 years ago | (#11025239)

I just read these magazines for the nice pictures, I don't read the text.

It's too small to read, anyway.

The pictures come in my e-mail now, too. Isn't that nice?

Not PM's (2, Insightful)

lateralus_1024 (583730) | more than 9 years ago | (#11025240)

Project Managers will usually do a good job of writing, and including the right people in office emails.

I'm glad that a lot of local CS programs are now requiring technical writing and/or professional writing courses as part of the undergrad requirements. At least my school is.

I also think that it wouldn't hurt for employers explicitly encourage email standards. Seriously, if you frown upon that idea, you're likely an offender. The encouraged style shouldn't mean you have to write Tolstoy-esque emails...just don't write your mysterious thought process, spell-check it and click send.

Oh, and hope that Slashdot posts haven't ruined you by now

Too bad, there is no breakdown (1)

mi (197448) | more than 9 years ago | (#11025247)

Between people, for whom English is the native language, and the others... I'd be curious, how my kind are doing :-)

Ahhh, bask in the irony.... (1)

wowbagger (69688) | more than 9 years ago | (#11025253)

Too many people regard email, blog posts, and other forms of electronic communications are being exempt from the normal rules of writing.

It is one thing to use IM-speak when you are using a phone or other limited-input capability device, but when you have a full keyboard, use full words and complete sentences, please!

I often wonder about the future - much of what we know of the past is from the letters people exchanged and saved (back when getting a letter across the country or across the ocean took weeks such letters were treasured). Now, we dash off an email, it gets read, and it gets deleted. Gmail aside, I wonder how this will affect the future's view of this era.

asdfasd (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11025260)


Spelling snobs (1)

asliarun (636603) | more than 9 years ago | (#11025261)

While i agree that some of the examples mentioned were a little extreme, i challenge the need to have perfect spelling, syntax, and grammar. The purpose of language, at least in the corporate realm, is to communicate. The purpose is not to create a literary masterpiece that would tickle Shakespear's bones.

Yes, communication should be unambiguous and be readable by an ordinary person. However, other requirements such as proper capitalization, placement of commas, perfect spelling, etc. are only good-to-have features of any communication, and not essential requirements.

I also think that it has become a fashion of sorts to bemoan the falling standards of grammar and correct English usage. Yes, the standard might have fallen a bit over the years. However, they haven't gone through the floor, as one would be led to believe. Furthermore, with the advent of technology and electronic communication devices, the focus is now on being brief, being up to the point, and getting the message across in as little time as possible. One simply does not have the luxury of composing verbiage at leisure and on company time, when the more pressing needs of posting on slashdot beckon.

I'm not really surprised... (1)

The Angry Mick (632931) | more than 9 years ago | (#11025270)

When I was in college there was a continuous bickering between the different department heads over what the courses should be required for which degrees. Every year, it was the Business Administration heads that would ask that the requirements for English be severely reduced to just the basic 101 and 102 level courses and nothing more.

It's sad, really, that things don't seem to have changed all that much . . .

I'm in search of 26K+/annual job... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#11025275) $4k if the job is located in California, New York, the Washington DC area, or any high cost-of-living blue state. My spelling and grammar border on impeccable. I can consistently type at 75+ WPM and have for the past eight years demonstrated excellent customer service skills in a number of wholesale and retail jobs. I guarantee you that if you put work in front of me it will get done, and if I don't know how to do it I'll learn quickly or find someone who can and works for the lower 25th percentile of market rate.

Any takers?

ps - I'll rock the socks off of any of these illiterate scrubs mentioned in the CNet article!

Oh no! (1)

mshiltonj (220311) | more than 9 years ago | (#11025277)

Please tell me my emails are not used as bad examples!

Funny job ad and response (1)

A nonymous Coward (7548) | more than 9 years ago | (#11025278)

I responded to an ad for an "imbedded" engineer, had to demangle the email address to even send in the resume, and was turned down because (a) I did not meet the quals (which had not appeared in the job ad) and (b) my resume had spelling errors. I thought for a few seconds of sending back a corrected copy of their ad, but I figured they must have a quota on spelling errors per month, they had used it up themselves, and it didn't sound like any boss I'd want anyway :-)
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