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Where Did These People Learn to Write?

Friday, March 5, 2010, 17:31 EDT Leave a comment Go to comments

As a graduate of 12 years of Catholic school, I feel justified in being something of an English language snob. Say what you will about nuns (and what I say about them, as a post-Vatican II baby, is that they were pretty cool and somewhat hippie-ish) but they taught me proper grammar, usage, and punctuation. I bet I could still diagram a sentence if forced.

That knowledge, which has stayed with me over these many years, causes me to cringe when I encounter bad English. In just the last 18 hours, I have seen two glaring examples of bad punctuation. One was the subject line of a spam email I received this morning.

I don’t know who first thought it would be a good idea to use quotation marks for emphasis, but his or her error doesn’t excuse all the other people who repeat the same mistake. They should all stop.

Now, perhaps the author of that email is someone in a third world country for whom English is not a primary language. If so, their ignorance of the language can be forgiven. But the University of Washington students protesting budget cuts can’t use that defense.

(Hat tip: Glenn Reynolds.)

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