Friday, December 31, 2010

Snowflakes Loose in the "Real" World, Part I

Well, this email I got tells us where the snowflakes go after they somehow pass college: they become copyeditors who make multiple grammatical errors in their emails, and more on their websites (the website talked about how you have to have agreement "between your verb and your prepositional phrases"). Not counting the odd uses of colons and semicolons, I could two other errors. I changed only the identifying info.

Dear Dr. Harpy:
I'm writing to you in your capacity as a faculty member of the Dept. of Ego and Bullshit.; I'd like to introduce myself to you and briefly describe the services I offer to graduate students.
First, I'm a writing coach: Although most of my clients are ABD, my methods work equally well for anyone who has difficulty writing productively and/or meeting deadlines. My techniques, background, and rates are outlined at www.Idon'
Second, I'm an editor, and especially enjoy working with faculty and students who are ESL; my approach and qualifications are described at I offer a 30% discount for enrolled students, as well as a lower rate for APA/MLA formatting.
Finally, a recent article I wrote on how to edit yourself might be of interest to your students; it's at www.ohgoddon'
I'd be grateful if you'd pass this along to anyone who might benefit from working with a coach or editor.
Thanks and best wishes,


  1. "Not counting the odd uses of colons and semicolons, I could two other errors."

    Prof. H.H. demonstrates one of the many corollaries of Murphy's Law: the post bitching about other people's errors invariably contains an error.

  2. Don't worry, HH...this is just a BLOG, not a friggin' job request. Ignore the troll.

  3. @PandC:

    You really don't see the connection between the loss of skills shown in recent years by college graduates and the relaxed attitudes too frequent in electronic writing, do you? I suggest you read Orwell's essay, "Politics and the English Language": that "communications professionals" so often do this, and sometimes even get paid for it, distresses me greatly. It's much like when broken windows stop getting fixed: the neighborhood is in decline. Kindly do your job as an educator, and stop making it harder on the rest of us.

  4. HH: as one who reads and grades lots of papers (in an applied discipline), I am interested in what you see wrong here. Aside from the colon and semicolon problem, I see some annoying redundancies and ambiguities (e.g., introduce myself to you, students who are ESL) but not outright errors. I am willing to be taught here. Please elaborate.

    @FFF - I think P&C is NOT commenting about the email HH received, but the first responding post. I could be wrong...

  5. There are at least two cases of passive voice, which is not technically an error. But, in humanities disciplines such as mine, we have a pronounced distaste for the passive voice and thus teach our students to write in the active voice as much as possible. So whether or not you consider it an error depends on your perspective. The two examples are:

    1) "My techniques..."
    2) "My approach and qualifications..."

  6. @Pangloss

    Thanks. You are correct. I was commenting on the first post.


    I am complete in agreement about the lax grammar in electronic communication. If you are applying for a job to help others with their writing skills, I would think you would be especially vigilant! But many make minor spelling and grammar errors in the blogosphere. Although I do try to edit and proofread my own posts, I hope that folks are at least a little tolerant of the occasional error. Sometimes I make a small error and don't catch it until after I've posted. In order to correct it, I would have to take down the post and completely rewrite it. After spending an hour on a post, I choose to leave it rather than start over. (I post mostly from my Droid, so I don't have editing software or an easy way to copy.)

    I do my job very well, thank-you!

  7. But, in humanities disciplines such as mine, we have a pronounced distaste for the passive voice and thus teach our students to write in the active voice as much as possible.

    Not by me. In my classes passive voice is appreciated by me! My students are being taught by me that the passive voice is to be used by them as much as possible. Sentences are made longer by the passive voice and hence essays are awarded higher grades by the reader. The reading is also enjoyed more by me if lots of passive voice sentences are found by me because then the fact that more time is being spent by my students on their writing is realized by me.

    Actually, passive voice sentences are appreciated most by me when the appropriate form of the reflexive is used by the writer. In other words, higher marks for writing are given out by myself when the the essays submitted to myself by the students are written by the students with myself and myself's particular reading tastes in mind. Or whatever.

  8. Dear AdjunctSlave,

    I wept. That was hilarious.

    I tell my students to avoid the passive voice because it makes the reader fall asleep. Also, take some friggin' responsibility.

  9. How exactly *would* I go about "editing myself"? Is this some sort of new weight-loss fad? Or is the article about developing the sort of brain / mouth filter that so many people seem to lack?


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