The English Language and Blogging

I do a lot of writing. I write for my own blog. I write for my dog’s blog (or at least I edit her writing!). I write for my clients’ blogs and websites. Writing quality content is probably one of my favorite parts of my work. I should have known that this would be the case when I was as young as eighth grade. My English teacher asked me if I wanted to work with her outside of school because she thought that my writing was excellent. I completed extra assignments and, throughout my education, I always got good grades in English and Language Arts.

Part of this has to do with my parents’ influence on me. Both of them are sticklers for using the English language properly. I suppose the apple does not fall far from the tree. When I was growing up (and even still!), my Mom would say, “Say it again.” if I spoke incorrectly. Every once in a while, I will hear her slip up and I will turn that sentence against her and tell her to say it again. Never could I say something like, “I did my homework quick.” My Mom would say, “-ly.” as soon as I was done speaking and I would repeat the sentence in its correct form: “I did my homework quickly.”

It really does sound quite militant as I write about it now but I am happy that I have a thorough understanding of the English language. There are a few drawbacks, though. I cannot even tell you how many people do not know how to use adverbs and how often I hear myself adding, “-ly.” to others’ sentences. Of course, I do this in my head but those two little letters seem to haunt me as other people talk. I have to bite my tongue whenever I want to say, “Say it again.” to people. I will not even get started on editing the written word. It is as though errors jump out at me. That is great when I am getting paid to edit a document but when I am reading a heartfelt card that someone has written for me, the last thing that I want to see is a glaring preposition at the end of a sentence.

As I look through my Facebook News Feed, I notice that it is full of errors. I am not the grammar police but sometimes I wonder if people are actually aware that their writing has so many mistakes. I know that a lot of my friends are professionals so I cannot imagine that they would want grammar goofs but it is not my place to make corrections.

Aside from the fact that these faux pas jump out at me all the time, I sometimes wonder if appreciating the English language so much hinders some of my writing. For example, I was taught that a writer should only use contractions when writing very informally. Therefore, I have never used a contraction on this blog. Would it be easier to write if I allowed myself to use contractions? Of course! Would some of my sentences flow better if I relaxed my writing style? Absolutely. Do I spend a lot of time rearranging words and entire thoughts because I want the language to be perfect? Yes!

Making the transition to less formal writing is a big decision for me, though. I know that people are supposed to blog for their audiences as if they are having conversations with them but I worry about compromising the integrity of the English language. If society’s writers start easing up on accuracy then what can we expect from everyone else? Would the use of proper grammar completely crumble? Will informal use of the English language become the new formal, forcing us to find a NEW kind of informal? That concerns me.

Bloggers, how do you feel about this? Do you write informally or do you try to write as properly as you can? Audience members, do you prefer informal writing or do you like a sense of more journalistic professionalism when you visit a blog?

,

  • http://JillianColemanWheeler.com/ Jillian Coleman Wheeler

    This is a very interesting post, Lauren.  I’m so glad you shared your thoughts on this subject.  I, too, grew up with a strong emphasis on proper English, from my parents, my Cambridge-educated grandfather, and, of course, the nuns!

    For many years I wrote magazine articles and newsletters, and I wrote those in a relaxed, but fairly formal voice – very close to your writing style above, in fact. 

    In recent years, however,  I’ve moved to a much more informal style.  Although I’ve been aware of the transition, I don’t think I ever made a conscious decision to change.  The more relaxed style simply grew out of my  desire to have a personal conversation with my readers.  So my books, my blogs, and even most of my articles reflect that conversational approach.

    I really enjoy your website, and I love it when writers talk writing.  Thanks!

  • http://www.facebook.com/linennis Lin Ennis

    I enjoy a mix of informal and literary writing, even in the same blog post. Conversational style contractions and sentence fragments along with creative turns of phrase.

    As in music, learn the “correct” notes, then play from your heart.

  • http://awarenessisfree.wordpress.com/ pradeep

    I love language also. I take my time editing my blog. It sits in drafts for days before I publish. I love the rhythm of words as much as grammar so I work at it. 

  • http://www.adjuvancy.com/wordpress Roy A. Ackerman, Ph.D., E.A.

    If I were writing a scientific or management report, my writing style would be formal.  However, I want my blog readers to feel like I am reaching out and talking with them directly.  Yet, I, like you, refuse to consider the poor habits of misspellings, grammatical errors, and the like.  I don’t talk that way and won’t write in a fashion that would insult the intelligent reader.

  • Mullenann4

    Lauren, I was taught proper English by my 10th grade English teacher, who made us write the rule we used improperly and then rewrite the sentence. I don’t remember the rules, but I learned.

    I have always used an informal writing style when writing newspaper columns and now blogs, because I am trying to speak to people as if I were present. As for prepositions at the end of sentences, I had an college English professor tell me not to worry about that and I haven’t.

    I do love language, but I also don’t have the luxury of time to fuss with endless revisions and taking ages to publish an article. So I make mistakes. I get mad at myself when I see them after they are published. So if I can fix it, I do. Otherwise, I do not.

    Saying “Otherwise, I do not”  like that makes a much too strong statement. I prefer the softer tone of “Or, I don’t.” You can almost see me shrugging my shoulders in the second instance while in the first I feel pugnacious. It isn’t just the words, it’s something ineffable beneath them.

    I hope you understand my reasoning. I do very much understand yours and we are both cool, each in our own way.–Annie

  • http://aguideforwomen.blogspot.com/ Alicia

    Wow. I do the same thing! I have to bite my tongue every time I see mistakes, too, even though I know I make my own mistakes. As a blogger, I do write somewhat informally. I think that readers are able to relate better so they don’t fell as if they are reading an academic paper or something. However, I didn’t feel at all that this article was too formal. It was very easy to read through. (As you can see, I do use contractions.)

  • http://www.getoutofstuck.net Roberta Budvietas

    One thing with the English language is that Americans spell funny

Powered by WordPress. Designed by Woo Themes