Wading through all the elderly dross in the Guardian website’s food and drink section (overdue for an update guys – Christmas is so last year), I came across this article.
Then, in the comments, spotted a bunch of people, quite rightly taking the Guardian to task for spelling sumptuous as sumptious. Quite rightly, because as I’ve pointed out here more times than I care to remember, standards at the Guardian, at least in its online version, are going to hell.
Then up pops one Felicity Cloake, author of the article and, possibly, the perpetrator of the error, with her knickers in a twist and whining that complaining was “mean spirited” as the offending word had been copied “from a blog – you know, written by an amateur doing it for the love of it,”.
Sadly, comments are now closed, as reading that angered me, because being “written by an amateur doing it for the love of it” is never an excuse for not hitting the spell-check button – neither is there any excuse for Cloake not doing so either. I don’t know what sub-editors do these days – if they still exist – but they clearly don’t check copy for errors before publication.
And too many bloggers are too sodding lax. OK, I know some typos slip though here, but incorrectly-spelled words very rarely. And given that some days I can barely see the screen, I’m lucky it’s not worse than it is.
I was reading – or trying to, anyway – a foodie blog a few days ago, but it was so appallingly written, I just couldn’t. I tried hard to like it, as the writer had Liked a post of mine, but in the first post I read she’d decided she didn’t like what she’d written, and rewritten part of it. That’s fine, we all do that. What we don’t all do, though, is omit to delete the unwanted text, as she had. And it went downhill from there – every post, even the very short ones, having its freight of errors, mostly spelling mistakes, but also errors of syntax and grammar. The spelling mistakes there is no excuse for, but the syntactical and grammatical errors speak either to a basic lack of education** or a couldn’t care less attitude. That,assuming it’s an educational problem as far as her writing is concerned, can be remedied by reading – a lot, and widely – and getting a feel for how the language works and is put together, but which seems not to be happening.
Some people don’t care – Felicity Cloake is apparently one of them – and in their world amateurs are excluded from the need to spell properly. But not in mine.
I’m not seeking perfection, because it doesn’t exist, but if you’re writing a blog, or an ebook (free or paid-for), or a newspaper column, then you have an obligation to your readers to get the bloody spelling right. And if money is involved, proof-read until you’re cross-eyed, and weed out the typos too!
I want people to read my blog, so it behoves me not to piss them off by wilfully failing to correct spelling errors, or perpetrating any other mistakes that could have been avoided – well, most of them, anyway.
I expect others – bloggers, writers, journalists, whatever – to extend to me the same courtesy. Being an amateur does not excuse you. Or me.
**Last time I said something like that, I was accused – as if it were a mortal insult! – of being an intellectual. Whether that’s true or not is not for me to decide, but my education is basic secondary school level, and I lost about a third of that, and primary school, to illness.** Thing is, though, when I was there I paid attention, especially to things which were important to me, like my own language. And, as I’ve explained at greater length elsewhere, I had the world’s best English teacher. There’s another reason, too, covered in this very early post.
**And a year free-wheeling at primary school, as the damn secondary school hadn’t been built!