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Love in the age of bad grammar

It’s Valentine’s day and love is in the air at genie towers. My 9-year-old son has his first girlfriend and the love letters are flying back and forth. It would be very sweet if I could get past the bad grammar.

“I really, really like you to.”

He’s been going to school for long enough to know the difference between to, too and two and yet he comes home with this. The question I wanted to ask today is does anybody even care anymore?

In the age of text messages and Twitter, we got into the habit of using simplified grammar and language to make our profound statements fit into 140 characters. We started to drop commas, letters and pronouns from our sentence structure. The limit is now up at 280, but for a lot of users, it’s a habit that’s stuck.

I’ve worked with people over the years who can’t spell, have no idea about how to use a semi-colon, and wouldn’t know the difference between a synonym and syntax if it slapped them in the face. They don’t think it matters, and part of me feels like they’re right and I’m wrong.

Times change. Apparently, we have to move with the change to stay relevant. If my little boy wants to tell his girlfriend that he really, really likes her to, she will know what he means with or without the extra ‘o’.

It does matter. It matters because it’s these elements of a sentence that can completely change its meaning. My favourite example is this:

Let’s eat Grandma.

Let’s eat, Grandma.

In the first, we’re suggesting that we chow down on a little old bespectacled lady, with white hair and glasses. In the second one, we’re encouraging the same old lady to come and eat with us. Grammar, so it seems, saves lives.

When we were developing the geniecomms.co.uk website, we spotted an accidental faux pas. We had written, ‘we share a razor-sharp focus on…’ When formatted, the sentence took on a different meaning with the word razor split from its pairing, which was demoted to the line below. It made it look like @Helen and I share the same razor.

On this issue, I've decided to stick to the rules.

Fun fact

The 140 limit for tweets was based on the SMS message limit of 160. Tweets were limited to 140, allowing 20 characters for a twitter handle (such as @geniecomms). Follow us there for more great insights from the world of comms,

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