Writing Responsibly on the Internet
by Owen Fourie
I saw the difference immediately. My car was not as it used to be before I let a friend use it while I was overseas for two months.
Before I left, I had handed over an immaculate vehicle, and I had explained my regimen for keeping my car in that condition. I was told that I should not be concerned; my car would be in good hands.
On my return, I was bitterly disappointed to find that it had obviously not received the same loving care. I decided to make a list of the things that were amiss. Here are some of the points I noted:
- the dent in the front left fender;
- the tear in the upholstery of the back seat;
- the broken tail light;
- the missing oil dipstick;
- the unwashed and unpolished appearance.
You’ll surely agree that to hand over a car in that state, after being requested to keep it in its prime condition, is unacceptable. It is simply not the proper thing to do.
I cite this as an analogy that reflects various situations in life. In every area of life, we are required to do things properly, but what happens when things are not done as they ought to be done?
On the one hand, a lot of time is spent cleaning up the mess that is made by those who, knowing better, remain careless and insensitive.
On the other hand, patience and correction are necessary where misuse occurs as a result of the ignorance of those who remain willing to learn and to improve.
One of the important areas of life where proper usage is essential is language. If we are to communicate clearly and without misunderstanding, we have to know the rules and keep them. Language teachers are tasked with the responsibility of instructing their students in correct usage.
Let’s assume that you have been taught the correct usage of English. Your responsibility is to write and speak English correctly. To do otherwise is to misuse the language, and the offense is as great as, if not greater than, that of the person who failed to care for my car in my absence.
Nowhere is there more evidence of the improper use of the English language than on the Internet. This means of communication is not restricted to formal usage, thankfully, but even in informal usage, there can be no excuse for obvious carelessness in many instances.
Before the Internet, we could rely on the intervention of proofreaders and editors in the prepublication phase. The ability to publish anything on the Internet without reliable and professional correction means that we have an enormous amount of online material that is full of errors. If you search in free article directories, you will become even more aware of this.
Even without professional checking of the text, anyone who publishes items on the Internet has the responsibility to write correctly and not hand over a misuse of the language.
Here are only four instances of glaring misuse; there are many. These cannot be taken as wrongly selected homophones.
- Messala ceases the opportunity and condemns Ben Hur to the galleys and imprisons his family.
- It donned on me that …
- Please re-frame from posting any future postings.
- When teachers introduce a new word or definition to students, do they rally remember the word or definition? Cases are they memorize the word and its definition for the quiz or test and then forget the word.
Some of these errors seem to stem from incorrect hearing and writing according to what is heard, without verification in a dictionary. Here are the corrections:
- Messala seizes the opportunity and condemns Ben Hur to the galleys and imprisons his family.
- It dawned on me that …
- Please refrain from posting any future postings.
- When teachers introduce a new word or definition to students, do they really remember the word or definition? Chances are they memorize the word and its definition for the quiz or test and then forget the word.
Always check your written material before publishing it on the Internet. Avoid incorrect usage. If you are unsure, let a professional proofreader look at your material.
How familiar are you with the problem discussed here? What is your experience of errors on the Internet, either your own or mistakes you have seen in other writing? Should the attention of webmasters and bloggers be drawn to errors on their sites? Your comments, observations, and questions are welcome.
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