Proper grammar increasingly enforced on social media

Democratic presidential hopeful U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton speaks in front of a banner with a misspelled word during the Silicon Valley Business Climate CEO Summit May 31, 2007. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

TORONTO – Since the advent of human language – some 30,000 to 100,000 years ago – there have been trailblazers, championing new methods of communication. And following closely behind, dedicated members of the grammar police, correcting prepositions and double negatives.

“Oh really Fred? You’re ‘literally’ dying of boredom? Somehow I doubt that.” (Photo credit: JANEK SKARZYNSKI/AFP/Getty Images). JANEK SKARZYNSKI/AFP/Getty Images

So it should come as no surprise that the newest terrain for wordsmiths to hone their skills is on social media.

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A trend is emerging on social media networks, where the truncated and erroneous language of text messages and instant message chats is being corrected, 140 characters at a time.

On Monday, a tweet from U.S. President Barack Obama’s verified Twitter account on a federal education program garnered hundreds of retweets – and at least one correction.

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Last month, a group of Brazilian students received international coverage for their polite (and adorable) mission to correct celebrity grammatical errors on Twitter.

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The pint-sized “Celeb Grammar Cops” are students of Red Balloon, an English school for children in Brazil.

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A video posted on YouTube explains the experiment, beginning with the declaration that “social networking has unleashed a new trend: bad grammar.”

Andrea Baena, coordinator for the University of Cambridge examinations in Brazil, explains that on social media celebrities are not worried so much about the language they use.

“Concerning education, it’s really bad because when [young students] see their idols speaking like that, they come to us and say ‘but this is right, he’s American, he’s using it.’ And it’s not the case,” said Baena.
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The Celeb Grammar Cops experiment asked students ages 8 to 13 to check their idols’ tweets for spelling and grammatical errors.

“It’s not ‘loves it’,” remarks one student after reading a tweet from Paris Hilton. “It’s love it.”

The students then messaged the celebrities on Twitter, politely correcting the errors.

Something also apparently on the rise on social media, is the shame and embarrassment suffered by people who commit an error in their tweets or status updates.

In the fast-paced world of social media, how much does proper spelling and grammar actually matter?

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Admittedly, when you only have 140 characters to work with, the occasional LOL or thx may not raise any eyebrows.

But while some grammarians can be particularly particular, errors online and on social media are increasingly being regarded as a “deal breaker” of sorts.

OkTrends, the research arm of dating service OkCupid, analyzed over 500,000 first contacts on the dating site and found that poor grammar and spelling mistakes are a huge turn-off.

“Our negative correlation list is a fool’s lexicon: ur, u, wat, wont, and so on. These all make a terrible first impression,” read the report.

An article titled “I Won’t Hire People Who Use Poor Grammar. Here’s Why” by Kyle Wiens, co-founder of iFixit, begins with, “If you think an apostrophe was one of the 12 disciples of Jesus, you will never work for me.”

The self-admitted grammar stickler, with a zero tolerance approach to grammar mistakes, said he would pass over a candidate for a job, who is otherwise qualified for the position, because of grammatical errors in their applications.

*Editor’s note: Apologies for the grammatical errors throughout this article.

WATCH THE RELATED REPORT BELOW: Global News’ Minna Rhee reports on social media and grammar. 

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