John McIntyre, whom James Wolcott calls "the Dave Brubeck of the art and craft of copy editing," writes on language, editing, journalism, and other manifestations of human frailty. Comments welcome. Identifying his errors relieves him of the burden of omniscience. Write to email@example.com, befriend at Facebook, or follow at Twitter: @johnemcintyre. Back 2009-2012 at the original site, http://weblogs.baltimoresun.com/news/mcintyre/blog/ and now at www.baltimoresun.com/news/language-blog/.
Saturday, January 30, 2010
The uses of subliteracy
Duncan often says “screwed” or “lied to” when he describes what American students face—low standards, chronically underperforming schools, inequities in spending and opportunity. He also repeats the claim, sometimes several times a day, that American schooling is stuck in old ruts while that of other nations has improved.
Amen, Brother Duncan.
But all the same, subliterate writing has its uses, as I was reminded by this message that came to my Gmail account this afternoon, purportedly from “Google Team”:
Gmail is built on the idea that email can be intuitive, efficient, and useful. And maybe even fun.
Now we are experience congestion and a very slow red, so we need you to verify your account by clicking the reply button and send your account domain below.
Google Team will be eliminating all unused/unwanted account causing red Congestion. Gmail is sorry for any inconveniency for all our regular Users. Send us your Domain Login below for verification.
Even without the fishy demand for account information — Google certainly knows what accounts are in Gmail — you would have to be thick as a plank not to recognize from the substandard English of the second and third paragraphs that this message is a fraud.
Tell me that it’s “just spelling.” Hmpf.