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Monday, October 29, 2007

LMK-i-A takes requests

Reader-submitted question: Can you please write about people who use no capitals at all? This problem is particularly apparent in electronic mail correspondence (shift key, anyone?).

Oooh. Yes, I can definitely write about that.

I think this is a holdover from the days when electronic correspondence was just for personal messages. E-mail used to be like text messaging or IMs (where I confess that I sometimes make typos or miss the shift key). It went off into the air and nobody would ever see it again.

Those days are gone, and e-mail has replaced the formal memo. Some offices do almost all of their work by e-mail. It's stored for years and deleted according to a schedule. It's forwarded to your boss's boss and then over to someone else and up to her boss.

This is what Russell Smith, in his quest to demonstrate his solidarity with the common man, calls "a grammatical Pascal's Wager": "I advocate knowing these rules just as I advocate knowing how gentlemen of forgotten social classes used to tie their shoelaces, not because I endorse such pernicious class systems, but because as long as they are there they are going to get you in trouble, and you might as well know about them." Thanks, Russell. You've really helped.

I think Russell is trying to say that when you don't use capital letters, you make your business correspondence look like it might have been copied from a 14-year-old girl's MSN log. This is forgivable when your message is "wanna go for lunch?" but a bit of a problem when your message is "upon review of your file, i have determined that there are reasonable grounds to proceed with a class-action lawsuit against dr. smith. also, i believe that we should pursue punitive damages. what do you think? plaintiffs rawk!".


Anonymous said...

Tell all of this to Rebecca Eckler

Megan said...

Eckler does come here, but she seems unwilling or unable to follow my grammar advice. She prefers to search my site for her own name.

b*babbler said...

Seriously, can I come and work for you?

I once was chastised for making my e-mails too formal. Pardon? Like the fact that I used full sentences instead of bullet points, and insisted on formal greetings. Sigh. I ended up feeling like a curmudgeonly old woman as I explained to my boss, a good 20 years older than me, why I felt that an e-mail (particularly one summarizing an entire project) should be well written.