Getting on My High Horse (and Helping Uncle Jack Off His)

“Capitalization is the difference between helping your Uncle Jack off a horse and helping your uncle jack off a horse.” Unknown (thanks, Linda, for sending this to me)

I’m going to sound like an old fogey reminiscing about the good old days here, but I’ll risk it.  It seems to me that too little emphasis is being placed on learning the basics of English these days.  You know, sentence structure, punctuation, and capitalization.  Seriously simple stuff.  Either it’s not being taught or there are a lot of students who aren’t listening.

I once had an employee who randomly capitalized words in a sentence.  Or, as he would have written, “I Once had An Employee who randomly Capitalized words.”  Every email he sent made me get out my red pen.  I would print the email and, after marking it up, toss it on his desk.  When this didn’t get through to him, I had him take an English class.  But capitalization was not addressed in that class or he was absent the day it was, because his random cap habit was never kicked, and he continued to look like a dumbass.

We’re not talking only uneducated people here.  I’ve had writers tell me that they aren’t worried about that kind of stuff, that once a story is accepted for publication, the editors will clean it up.  Wrong.  It will probably never be accepted anywhere if the punctuation and capitalization are a mess.

My mother claims it’s a result of too much texting and tweeting.  I’m not buying it.  There are plenty of luddites out there who don’t know the basics of grammar and punctuation and spelling.  I think the problem is much deeper than that.  Many people seem to believe that it just doesn’t matter anymore, and that the rules no longer apply.  Not true.  Every time you send a poorly constructed, misspelled email, you are showing the recipient that you are too lazy or too stupid to communicate in proper English.  And forget landing an interview if your cover letter and resume are riddled with misspellings and incorrect usage.

As for any writer who is too lazy to make certain a story is grammatically correct, you can blame the editor who doesn’t want to spend his time teaching you first grade English for that rejection.

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4 thoughts on “Getting on My High Horse (and Helping Uncle Jack Off His)

  1. In elementary school and in college, I was placed out of the basic grammar and writing classes because my reading/writing level was so high. I still struggle with grammar, especially commas, and I wish I’d had to take a grammar class at some point along the way. EVERYONE should have to take grammar classes in my opinion.

    1. I’d never know by your writing that you struggle with grammar or punctuation at all. Your work is always so polished. But yes, I agree – everyone should have to take grammar classes. We are doing a disservice to our children when we let them out of school without the proper foundation, without the means to communicate effectively.

      Hope your writing is flowing.

  2. uh oh, I see myself in this blog….. I’m going to blame it on being from NY – talking fast and using my hands to emphasize my story 🙂

    1. Ha! That sounds like a truly southern thing to say, that your faults are caused by being from NY. You’ve been in VA so long you are thinking like a Virginian. And your hand gestures? Just visual punctuation marks.

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