Getting to grips with grammar
A recent article on the BBC News website suggested poor spelling could result in reducing online sales by half.
A website owner interviewed said: “Sales figures suggest misspellings put off consumers who could have concerns about a website’s credibility”.
He has a good point but we must not forget that it is not just poor spelling that can let us down.
Grammar and awareness of other factors eg brand names, can have an important effect on how users not only view websites but how these views can spread to other, potential, users.
I received a lovely email from a friend this week. It was taken from the always welcome Buzzfeed.com .
It described eight words that are confused with words that SOUND exactly the same but when spelled incorrectly mean something completely different – Phase/Faze, Rein/Reign etc. You get the idea.
Although it was a chuckle to read it also reminds all of us that taking the time to spell correctly is never wasted time.
Sometimes the words that trip us up most often are the ones that we use the most and have simply forgotten they are being used incorrectly.
Hoover, Tarmac, Jacuzzi, Jet Ski, Vaseline and Kleenex are several examples of words we use to describe specific items but are actually trademarks.
I know ‘asphalt surfacing’ may not sound like the sexiest thing to drive your car on but if it’s not Tarmac, you can’t use it.
This can also be applied to words you might use to describe what someone or something does.
Some examples I can give happened when I first started as a newspaper journalist.
I used the word ‘motorway’ when I should have used ‘road’ – it wasn’t an M-road.
Using the word ‘accident’ when it should have been ‘collision’ – it was between two vehicles and using ‘accident’ aportions blame to one or more parties.
And the best, and thankfully this wasn’t me, using the word ‘swoop’ to describe a police raid. Cue the news editor telling my colleague that “Birds swoop, people don’t”.
Even in this very office we had a discussion over the use of the word ‘seagull’. Sounds silly I know but a ‘seagull’ doesn’t exist.
A gull, and the many members of its family, does.
And because they are often seen near to the coast the term ‘seagull’ has been coined to describe them even though it isn’t correct.
The use of language is always a touchy subject but we have to remember not to get lazy with our use of it.
Although former US President Andrew Jackson may have had a point when he said: “It is a damn poor mind indeed which can’t think of at least two ways to spell any word”.
And don’t get me started on people who use the word ‘irregardless‘.