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Are Grammar and Spelling a Telling Sign?

February 2, 2011

On a whim this evening, I went to the Rift forums to see if there were any interesting threads that had new information, and one caught my interest because of something Elementalistly said on Twitter a day before.

Elementalistly was, to put it succinctly, asking folks if one should judge a guild application on the basis of grammar and spelling. While 140 characters doesn’t directly explain everything that needs be said, I imagine that he is looking for a modicum of proficiency or care with the English language to facilitate not only better understanding, but also to weed out people who may not be mature enough to be in the guild he’s setting up for Rift.

Now, I’ll go back to my opinion on the spelling thing in a moment. Let’s go to the forum post now.

The forum post that caught my attention (which may be locked at any moment) is basically a call for help from an amateur writer who wishes to write Rift-based fiction for himself that adheres to the lore of the game.

Now, his grammar isn’t perfect, and I admitted in a comment on the thread that the first reaction I had to the thread was to be annoyed at the title, but then I started reading the thread and realized it wouldn’t help to be mean-spirited. So I did some quick research, found two links, and sent them to him, along with trying to deflect some trolls away from disheartening the original poster.

My line of thinking was simple: I don’t know anything about this poster, and I don’t know what the context of his life is, so who am I to say that his misspellings are intentional, unintentional or a mixture of both? I might as well just answer his points and help him out.

From the way he writes and what information he’s willingly divulged though, I found him to be a rather nice fellow. He has his own set of issues that he’s dealing with, and I wouldn’t have known that if I put him through an intellectual grinder to turn his ego into squishy bits.

Still, people skip to the latest post and miss that, and keep on getting peeved with him or bickering among themselves.

Back to Elementalistly’s Twitter thought now. While I do feel that spelling and grammar are important, I feel the content written by the person and the context of why a person writes a certain way is equally important. You can always have rules that spelling and grammar must be 95% spot-on, but you should also leave contingencies that allow inclusion of people who have good heads on their shoulders rather than exclusion of immature fools.

Of course, that would require a huge paradigm shift in a ton of people to be successful, but it could happen.

In any event, I extended a hand of friendship to the original poster, and offered to help him find more info on the lore of Rift. Making friends rather than pissing people off: that sounds like a good slogan for a positively-powered forum if I ever heard of one. 🙂

Image Source: OK Magazine

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7 Comments leave one →
  1. Chris Smith permalink
    February 2, 2011 22:51

    Sometimes you can tell if the person isn’t well versed in the language, and when they’re simply lazy. I’d think that someone who is approaching a situation in a calm and rational manner, but isn’t hitting all the “high notes” of grammar or misspells some words is OK. If someone ignores punctuation, uses “SMS shorthand” and cannot maintain a cohesive flow of ideas, then I’d be far more cautious.

    Still, being a grammar bully shouldn’t count against people for something like video games, partly because gaming isn’t crucial to human survival, and because not even the grammar bully fires on all cylinders 100% of the time (pot, meet kettle). I think this is why many guilds have a get-to-know-you period where the group can let the player show more then just their writing skills (which end up being a very, very negligible part of the game anyway, especially if VoIP is in effect).

  2. February 3, 2011 02:54

    UPDATE:

    The person in question joined the Guild. He was very personable and seems knowledgeable…but I still question the errors and wonder if it is an impediment or merely laziness.

    He has personally noted a favoritism toward Vent though, so I am unsure at this point…at least until I get to chat with him. May just be new at the typing thing…but, as many stated, they would always give a person a chance. I agree.

    Now, time will tell how this will roll.

  3. February 3, 2011 06:25

    I gotta look at the big picture. If the mistakes make it clear that the person’s first language isn’t English, then I’d look at the content of the application and ignore the grammar. For those who have a good grasp on the language, I’ll look past “true” spelling mistakes if the person is coherent and it’s clear they put some thought into what they wrote.

    A lot of careless typos, on the other hand, makes me nervous. Sometimes you can just tell when a person knows how to spell but are careless or they can’t be bothered to fix it.

  4. João Carlos permalink
    February 11, 2011 02:05

    Sometimes, a person is born that not speak english as native language. And the world is big.

    MMO have people from all world. And I am not making reference to the chinese farmers…

    Japanese, Koreans (south, north one don’t have internet), French, Germans, Polonese, Russian, Spanish, Portuguese, Aregentine, Brazilians…

    They have other native language.

    The can be well educated people, sometimes, but they are well educated at their language. The fact you don’t know english enough for not make grammar or spelling errors don’t make them people that don’t think, don’t feel, don’t be knowledgeable, and don’t be good players or don’t be honest.

    João Carlos

    Sorry my bad english, my native language is portuguese

    • February 11, 2011 05:54

      I completely agree with your sentiment, especially since in the Philippines, where I live, there are a ton of dialects depending on your location in the country. 😀

      Sometimes it’s difficult for people to understand that English is not the language of the universe. 😀

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