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Friday News: Guardian reviews Does Spelling Matter; Michael Cairns suggest Content...

In a trenchant final chapter, Horobin examines the way new technologies, among them the endlessly hyped Twitter, are leading us to communicate in a more casual style. He likens the condensed language of social media to the abbreviated forms employed by medieval scribes to speed up the process of making copies of texts, and observes that, until the 18th century, such elisions could be used without censure. The Guardian

“Content Cashier” (TM pending) will provide the prospective buyer with a price for the type of transaction they want such as buy, rent, etc. If they have a profile with “Content Cashier” this transaction will occur in the background with a simple acknowledgement (yes/no) that the customer wants to continue. If not, the user will be able to pay via some other method (Paypal, Amazon) in less than 60seconds. Personanondata

We like to tell people we were “introduced by Ann Landers,” which is technically true, although Eppie Lederer didn’t know her at the time. The night I took Eppie to an open AA meeting, we decided to go out to dinner together afterwards; this was the first and only time we ever had dinner for two. In the restaurant, Chaz was at a nearby table that included a couple of people I knew. I didn’t know her, but I’d seen her before and was attracted. I liked her looks, her voluptuous figure, and the way she presented herself. She took a lot of care with her appearance and her clothes never looked quickly thrown together. She seemed to be holding the attention of her table. You never get anywhere with a woman you can’t talk intelligently with.  Roger Ebert’s Journal

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

14 Comments

  1. Kati
    Apr 05, 2013 @ 08:18:09

    Ebert made writing look effortless always. I wish I had that gift and vastly admired his.

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  2. Danielle D
    Apr 05, 2013 @ 08:31:59

    RIP Roger, I always loved watching your reviews with Gene Siskel.

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  3. Darlynne
    Apr 05, 2013 @ 09:12:41

    @Danielle D: Their show was a must-watch at our house. Such intelligent and fascinating discussions. They’re both missed around here.

    ETA on another topic: And, yes, spelling matters. I don’t care about twitter and how words are spelled or thoughts expressed. But out in the real world, a written A-game is essential. Grrrhh.

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  4. Lana
    Apr 05, 2013 @ 09:41:29

    The Frommers news made my day yesterday. As an avid traveler, I love guidebooks. My husband and I try to unplug on vacation (so we don’t fall down a wiki hole) and many places around the world don’t have free wifi everywhere so having that actual BOOK is required. Now I don’t have to stock up on ‘one day trip’ books just in case

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  5. Isobel Carr
    Apr 05, 2013 @ 09:42:12

    Horobin appears to be conveniently ignoring the fact that in the 18thC, spelling had yet to be codified in the way it is now. People–educated people!–often spelled the same word differently, sometimes even in the same letter. There was an entirely different mindset. But you wouldn’t have seen such casual abuse in a printed book. Two different publishers might not have agreed up a spelling, but they were internally consistent (much like house style today regarding capitalization or use of leaped/leapt).

    He is however correct about the 18thC’s love of abbreviation, especially in letters (postage being quite expensive, they used whatever tricks they could to cram more into a single sheet). I can certainly see the similarity of that causal form of communication and the kind of abbreviation gymnastics we go to today on twitter.

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  6. Lynn M
    Apr 05, 2013 @ 10:43:42

    I have no problems with creative spelling when used for social media purposes. I understand the need for easier spelling when it comes to texting, tweeting, even posting on Facebook and the like. However, when it comes to trying to import those shortcuts into the acceptable norm, I have a serious problem. Call me old-fashioned, but what is wrong with expecting American children (and future adults), who in general are never required to become fluent in a second (or third) language the way so many other children of the world are, to have a firm grasp on their mother tongue, including correct spelling? No matter the excuse, poor spelling tends to make a person look uneducated at best, ignorant at worst. Trying to remove this stigma by making spelling “not matter” is silly. What’s next, allowing doctors to take short-cuts when treating patients? Some things are worth the extra effort to learn correctly even if they seem trivial.

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  7. Liz H.
    Apr 05, 2013 @ 12:29:53

    @Lana: Do you find a particular guidebook co. more accurate than others? Recommendations would be appreciated. My travel has vastly increased over the last 5 years, and I’ve not had great luck with books. I’ve actually found NYTimes articles a more consistent source of interesting activities, and balanced reviews (rather than throwing everything in). I’ve heard a lot about the books/guides that Japanese tourists use, but I haven’t been able to find any translations.

    As for the spelling, I would think that the most important stipulation when accepting or rejecting abbreviation is knowledge of the correct, full spelling. TTYT is fine for twitter, but not if you’re planning to “talke too you tomorow”. It’s also important not to discount the humor abrv.’s can bring ;) See the autocorrect post Jane put up a few days ago. “Mom what do you think WTF means?” “Well that’s fantastic”

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  8. De
    Apr 05, 2013 @ 13:29:37

    Does spelling matter?

    YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    And I say this as someone who’s fairly crappy at spelling. I can look at a work and usually tell if it’s spelled correctly, but if it’s not I can’t help you fix it. I’m very thankful for search engines that say “did you mean?” and offer the correct spelling.

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  9. Amy Kathryn
    Apr 05, 2013 @ 14:05:16

    @Liz H.: I have been responsible for trip organizing for a group of ladies the past few years. I do some internet browsing including the NYT articles from which I cut and paste snippets into a word file. I find cheap copies or borrow from the library the DK guides which have awesome illustrations and museum cheat sheets. The one I will buy new and take with me is the Knopf mapguides that I then mark up with my other research. They are small to fit in a travel purse, great maps by section of the city, and fairly representative sights, shopping, and dining.

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  10. Aisha
    Apr 05, 2013 @ 14:51:19

    @Liz H.: If at all possible, and if you are not travelling with a group, I think the best guide would be a local – if not a friend/acquaintance than a friend of a friend. I try to do this if I can (and make it clear that I am more than willing to reciprocate so I don’t feel terribly exploitative), and its generally been with people who are strangers to me, but incredibly open and accommodating. I believe it allows for greater insight into the host culture and a richer experience overall.

    As to spelling, it drives me utterly bonkers when I have essays submitted using sms-text. The other problem is the over-reliance on spellcheck. It usually only happens once though ;).

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  11. Marianne McA
    Apr 05, 2013 @ 16:54:33

    Sometimes words need to be spelled properly. But I think often they don’t – we’ve just been told that they do, and we believe it.

    Cos, if I’d written – words nead to be spelt properly – who wouldn’t have understood that? And as long as I’ve communicated, does the detail matter?

    I think because we’re taught and examined through the medium of English, people with a facility for the subject float to the top of the education system, and then they repeat the (false) assertion that a facility in this particular subject is the mark of an educated person.

    (Can you tell I’m bitter? Sometimes, you’d love to see the tables turned. Instead of putting my child in the lowest maths group, because people who can’t spell are self-evidently stupid, let’s stick everyone who can’t do long division in the bottom reading group…)

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  12. Jen
    Apr 05, 2013 @ 17:41:21

    I am so sad about Roger Ebert. Not only was he an amazing writer, but he developed an amazing perspective on life in his later years. I’m from Chicago and it’s hard to overestimate how important he is in the history of the city. He really is the last of the old school Chicagoans, the last real public voice to have talked to and worked with the even older-school ones. And the first thing I thought when I heard he died was how terrible I felt for Chaz. If you want a little cry, watch his TED talk. The segment with Chaz is just so incredibly wonderful–I love me some romance novels but THIS is what real life love looks like.

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  13. B. Sullivan
    Apr 06, 2013 @ 00:26:06

    As one who is completely rotten at spelling (something which you spend the rest of your life working at that annoying list of sneaky you-want-to-misspell-us words) – I really wish social media had a bit more love for the spelling, grammar and punctuation. Mainly for those times when people are trying to explain something and due to abbreviations and all over the place writing you have NO idea what they’re trying to tell you, and whether it’s a joke, failed sarcasm, or they’re trying to be serious. This happens quite a lot actually.

    The Ebert-Chaz romance was something that constantly had me peeking at his blog for years – aside from reading his essays. I always thought they were such a beautiful couple, and he was always talking about how they meant so much to each other. Her last post on his blog was terribly sad but lovely:

    “I’ve lost the love of my life and the world has lost a visionary and a creative and generous spirit who touched so many people all over the world. We had a lovely, lovely life together, more beautiful and epic than a movie. It had its highs and the lows, but was always experienced with good humor, grace and a deep abiding love for each other.”
    http://blogs.suntimes.com/ebert/2013/04/a_statement_from_chaz_ebert.html

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  14. Wahoo Suze
    Apr 06, 2013 @ 18:52:29

    I used to be pretty snobbish about spelling, but then I became a secretary and had to type for a bunch of people. I now tolerate bad spelling from people who are at least using words properly. What I can’t stand is people trying to use words that they don’t really understand the meaning of (and get all offended when I question whether that’s what they meant, ’cause who the hell do I think I am, I’m just the secretary).

    I think spelling is less important in casual communication, and we all pull boners on-line. But in formal writing (business, published-for-profit), you should spell correctly. (Except that I really believe that people learn to spell by reading things that are spelled correctly, and purposeful cutesy spelling drives me bonkers, because it leads to people who don’t read a lot to be bad spellers. Cheez.)

    I once read an on-line debate between a pro-spell-correctly person and an activist who (as I understand it) wants to change the rules so that you spell words how you pronounce them. The activist’s argument fell completely apart as soon as regional accents came into play.

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