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Grammar in Chat

Polyneux's Avatar

05.24.2012 , 04:47 PM | #1
So I want to discuss something. And it might turn into a flame war but know that is not my intention.

I also want to begin this by saying I am not a Grammar Nazi. What the scope of this post is covering is simple things like capitalization of first letters in sentences, punctuation, etc. I'm a senior in college and I still have to consult a manual sometimes if I want to go crazy in a paper and add a colon.

My question is this:
Question 1: Do you view people who do not capitalize, use punctuation, or shorthand as lesser than yourself? (Assuming you do use correct punctuation, etc.)

This is a simple question that should be answered for statistical reasons with "Yes" or "No" and then I will go on with my hypothesis.

I'm also not saying that the above question is at all true. I know lots of people who are smart and don't use proper grammar for reasons I will discuss below. This is just


I'm speaking from my own personal experience and that of my closest friends whom I know in real life. I cannot for example take the experiences of a SWTOR member in chat who claims to be a novelist with a doctorate, because who knows?

I am a college student. A very average college student in my senior year. I grew up in the internet age so since High School I have been using a computer to process words and type. I am a little special though from other children because my family worked in the computer industry from the get go. So from about 1994 or 5 onward I had been around computers, which is since I was five years old. I learned to type before I could really write well and other things. This has not necessarily been great for me because my handwriting sucks! Anyway that's a digression.

We're talking about papers and academic work. Why? Because I am assuming your average player of a game like SWTOR is someone who is probably 15-25, is in school, also writing and doing academic work.

Now here is me:

When I write something and make a mistake; I immediately backspace and fix it. No matter what, no matter where. This is a habit from all of the papers I have written during my scholarly career. And it is a habit that transfers to my texting, Facebook, everything.

It is very hard for me to force myself to write sloppily, and only in the heat of combat might I split some poor incorrect thing out. Friends whom I've asked told me the same thing, I -witness- this on a daily basis by going to my University's library.

I'm not OCD in the slightest, and I'm not a Grammar Nazi as said before. I simply have developed a habit of writing material in the correct format, to lessen the use of things like spellcheck or whatever, and to just sound professional and neat.

So it is from this standpoint that I make the following hypothesis:

If a person does not use proper grammar, punctuation, or capitalization at a basic level in a chat where they are simply standing and chatting (not in combat), then one of the following possibly applies to them.

(a). They are younger than 15. Maybe even older than that. The person has not reached an age where they are expected to write perfectly, and especially not on a computer. They probably aren't asked to write papers, copy notes, etc. In America 15 is approximately 10th grade on the high school scale. Most high schools are not completely integrated with computers, nor can they expect their students to all have computers, etc.

(b). They are older than 30. And grew up not really being expected to type or process words. They might hold a job where they are not expected to do so either. Someone who is 30 was born in 1982, and was 18 in the year 2000. School computing was definitely not as developed, and University computing was only a few steps ahead. Computing was also still relatively expensive.

(c). English is not their first language. Can't really blame anyone for that. They might be using a foreign keyboard, they might be code-switching. Who knows what stage of Language Acquisition they are in. But people who fall into this category usually make more obvious mistakes than punctuation.

(d). They are not College educated. They could be 18-24 and never went to college, working your basic minimum wage job. This person is not really -asked- to use good typing skills in there everyday environment.

Keep in mind these are all suppositions. I'm not saying that everyone who is young, old, didn't go to college, or an ELL is stupid or a lesser human being. What I'm trying to decode is the attitude against people who do not take the effort to use proper grammar. Which leads me to.

(e). They don't care. And argument that I 100% do not buy. For reasons I have been discussing this whole time. Habits are hard to break, and if you are not in a habit of typing eloquently, then that really is a reflection of you as a person. This goes true as someone not showering, shaving, getting a haircut, or washing their clothes.

With all this said, think about the inverse, assuming the above hypothesis was completely true, that means that people who use proper punctuation, grammar, etc. are:

1. Older ('perfect' American age of 18-25 even.)
2. Smarter (College educated, possibly a professional worker.)
3. Proficient in English.
4. Caring about their image.

By fleshing this out I can clearly see why people take up the arguments that they do in chat wars about grammar.

The people who correct others simply know better, some of them are jerks and nazis, but a great deal of us are just interested in making sure people know that "a lot" is actually two words etc. And everyone has witnessed the 12 year old trying to exert himself as an older, wiser individual, and most of us myself included have done that same type of thing at one time or another.

So the discussion is this:

What is your take on grammar in game chat? What is your life experience (are you University trained etc)? Are you coming from writing a very complex academic paper to a video game where you immediately drop all rules of communication?


Here are some common arguments I run into.

1. As long as the point gets across it does not matter: This is true to a point, especially in verbal communication. Personally when I see a well constructed argument with proper grammar, I know the individual has thought enough into it to format it into an eloquent thought. Someone who spews whatever they are thinking (which is NOT always the case) may not be reading what others are saying, or thinking about what they are saying.

2. It's a game it doesn't matter: Goes back to my previous discussions, if you are in the habit of typing well, why stop? It's like someone faking an accent. If you are trying to fake an accent all day and then you go home and talk for five minutes in your real accent, you might very well mess up the next time you want to speak with an inflection.

3. Grammar Nazi's need to stop: It's not always about being a grammar nazi. I know 100% that there are school-aged children playing this game. I know 100% if someone keeps making the same spelling error, the same grammar error, then they will miss it in their school or work as well. As an Education major it's not about being elite or a "Nazi" but rather letting someone know if they repeatedly make a mistake. Often I will whisper instead of calling them out in the chat, but that is another story.


TheBBP's Avatar

05.24.2012 , 04:49 PM | #2
Quote: Originally Posted by Polyneux View Post
I'm not OCD in the slightest,
You just wrote a GIANT post on in-game grammar.
Crosswire - Republic Commando
Commander - The Way of the Maker Christian/Family-rated Guild
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Polyneux's Avatar

05.24.2012 , 04:51 PM | #3
Quote: Originally Posted by TheBBP View Post
You just wrote a GIANT post on in-game grammar.
Going on a tangent does not equate OCD. Being heated over anything results in giant posts. I simply wanted to make sure I covered all bases and ensure that I'm not taken as a troll or flamer.

Iron_Lord's Avatar

05.24.2012 , 04:53 PM | #4
How much grammar is needed for: LFG HM ESSELES?
"I started with nothing and I still have most of it"

Kelenan's Avatar

05.24.2012 , 04:58 PM | #5
OMG! You know people use text to chat in MMO's right? And just because a person may not have an exceptional ability to spell does not make them dumb or stupid.

They may have exceptional math skills, or be able to works metals, or heal animals or people.

Just saying intelligence is relative. People excel where their environments need them to. Spelling is also relative.

Examples. Love, Luv, <3, pitter pat, twitterpated, adore, all mean the same thing and you know exactly what I meant. What does it matter how anyone spells anything as long as you understand what they mean?

DbDBear's Avatar

05.24.2012 , 05:06 PM | #6
I have put up with a lot of things on this forum but this is pushing it way to far.
You LEAVE MY GRAMMAR OUT OF THIS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! She does not even play SWTOR .... Hell.... She does not even have a Computer! She is a very nice Old Gal and bakes me tasty cookies and NONE of your damn business!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

SapientSix's Avatar

05.24.2012 , 05:07 PM | #7
Short answer: no.

Long answer: if I begin to feel that it is taking more effort for me to figure out what some chuckled is trying to say than he is putting into saying it, then I dismiss said chuckled as not being worth my time. This is different on two levels. The first is that I am only put off by poor grammar in it impedes understanding. The second is that I don't think I'm better than That Guy, I just don't think he's worth my time. Both of these are important distinctions.

sambeta's Avatar

05.24.2012 , 05:08 PM | #8
Oh my. I can't even bring myself to read through that wall of text seeing as the topic is so bizarre. It is elitism nothing more.

Alexi_son's Avatar

05.24.2012 , 05:09 PM | #9
Grammar died with the invention of texting and instant messaging and everyone being in such an all-fired hurry to type what they want to say as fast and as briefly as they possibly can.

I didn't read your post - so how's that for what's necessary to type to get a point across - certainly not an opening dissertation on grammar to ask a question.

Polyneux's Avatar

05.24.2012 , 05:09 PM | #10
Quote: Originally Posted by Kelenan View Post
OMG! You know people use text to chat in MMO's right? And just because a person may not have an exceptional ability to spell does not make them dumb or stupid.

They may have exceptional math skills, or be able to works metals, or heal animals or people.

Just saying intelligence is relative. People excel where their environments need them to. Spelling is also relative.

Examples. Love, Luv, <3, pitter pat, twitterpated, adore, all mean the same thing and you know exactly what I meant. What does it matter how anyone spells anything as long as you understand what they mean?
Thus why I want to have the discussion.

If a person can heal animals or people or even if they are good at math then they likely went to or are attending a Professional school. I'd want to pick their brain as to why they don't follow the same rules for the few hours a day they play a game that they follow everywhere else in their life.

I'm saying that if a person's environment requires them to excel, then they should be excelling in all environments they are in including playing a game. I didn't say that the inability to spell or use grammar made them dumb or stupid. I'm saying it could give clues to their level of education, and possibly their profession.

When I see the argument happening repeatedly, I thought I'd write about it.

The question becomes "why do you treat me like im stupid?" and the answer is often "Because you use improper grammar." Why? Well I'm exploring why.

I'm not saying that I haven't made mistakes. I'm not saying that people who use poor grammar are stupid. I'm also not saying I am not guilty of casting poor judgement on someone. I'm talking about a stigma that is automatically placed on some people and why.