The other day I was pissed off at a comment I read on another blog (not mine). The commenter felt the author was either showing off or writing for personal satisfaction, because it was not fit for the common man. He chose to remain “Anonymous” which tells us everything we need to know about him / her.
We’ve already said that vanity does play a role in blogging. It’s the other part of the insinuation that annoyed me. A number of questions came bubbling up, therefore let’s discuss the issue of audience, and specifically, the common man.
1. Must the post be in proper, grammatically correct English?
The post in question was written well, using proper grammatical English. This seemed to offend the “Self-Appointed Keeper of the Common Man’s Sensibilities”. We all know (or should easily be able to guess correctly) my personal opinion. I’d like to hear yours.
2. Does the common man not deserve good English?
We’ve all heard about “writing for your audience”, but should we deliberately break the rules of grammar to appeal to people who can’t be bothered to learn the language? Now, you can argue that sometimes the common man’s lack of English skills is not out of choice but circumstance. And I would retort, then that is all the more reason to write proper English (or French, Marathi or Swahili for that matter), to help him learn. For how else does he grow?
3. Will the common man not read good English?
Yes, that is a possibility. If you are weak at a skill, you may be intimidated into not attempting it. My skill at rock climbing is negligible (read “non-existent”) and I’m definitely not attempting it any time soon. This is a real issue, one that needs attention, not least by the common man himself. It must be addressed by writers too, for who among us does not want more readers? There are things that can be done.
You can write good English and still be readable. You can evaluate your post against a number of Readability Indexes available freely over the internet. An editor, Camille DeSalme, was kind enough to post links to two different websites which I used to evaluate one of the posts on this blog. http://www.readability-score.com/ and http://www.readabilityformulas.com/flesch-reading-ease-readability-formula.php
Here are the results of this post, The Date of the Jackal.
Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level: 6.6, 6.6
Gunning-Fog Score: 8.9, 9.0
Coleman-Liau Index, 7.0, 9.1
SMOG Index: 6.8, 6.8
Automated Readability Index: 5.2, 5.2
Linsear Write Formula: 7
Flesch-Kincaid Reading Ease: 71.8, 71.8 (out of 100, the higher the score, the easier it is to read)
Really, what these scores indicate is that anyone in Grade 6-7 of US school system should be able to read the post. How much more common must we get? Grade 1? Kindergarten? Preschoolers? Anonymous, please, can you tell me what the error is in the picture below?
(If you’re a common “woman” and you choose to object to the “man” thing, you should know that I don’t care for fake feminism and superficial sexism. In other words, go away and don’t bother me!)