Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Are typos inevitable?

(Something I posted on Caferati)

The consensus seems to be that a few typos may occur. I typed “ocur” here but my word-processing program promptly changed it to “occur.” So much for small mercies. We have word processors powerful enough to correct even before we notice the mistake.

Caferati was conceived as a forum to learn and to grow. I guess that purpose wouldn’t be served if someone says that if there is one typo in the contribution he/she was put off and didn’t read the entire contribution. That is not serving any purpose here. I have read many contributions though they were replete with typos and were full of muddled thinking.

I had to literally wade through the prose to find out what the writer wanted to say. But then I got all of what was being expressed and have commented, if, and, when I had the time, or, when I felt that my comment would make a difference.Let us not be “holier than thou” here. Get this straight and let it remain in your heads always: TYPOS ARE BOUND TO HAPPEN IN ALL WRITING. Nobody can write a first draft without typos. But as we go along we should try to reduce the number of typos at least as a gesture of “courtesy” to our esteemed members, as somebody mentioned on this thread.

That said, in a literary forum like Caferati we can declare at the beginning of the contribution that this is a “work in progress” and therefore there is bound to be typos and grammatical inconsistencies. In this case the writer is merely “workshopping” his work for the views of the members. He is not presenting it to Caferati members for publication and as the moderators repeatedly point out, they don’t edit anyone’s contribution.

None other than Geoffrey Chaucer, considered the father of English poetry was a bad speller. Consider the following extract from his poem Troilus and Criseyde:

But, you lovers, that bathen in gladness,
If any drop of pity in you be,
Remembereth you on passd heaviness (Remember past sorrow)
That you have felt, and on the adversity
Of other folk; and thinketh how that ye
Have felt that Lov durst you displease, (made you suffer)
Or you have won him with too great an ease.

He writes “passd” for “past” and “Lov” for “love.”

These notes were not made by me but were gleaned from a scholarly study of Chaucer by Michael Murphy (so, do not assume that I am being “holier than you”). Editing was so bad then that even bad spelling escaped the editors’ attention. With technology came word processors and this sanctimonious obsession with, “give us flawless prose, or we won’t even look at it.”

To be fair to those who come on board to write and learn how to write, let us be generous and tolerate the typos and grammatical inconsistencies if it is mentioned at the beginning of the work that it is a “work in progress.” At least we must make that much allowance, in the common interest, as none of us here (I may be wrong!) claim to be above board as far as typos and grammar are concerned.


Ozymandias said...

Thanks for visiting my blog. Hope your essay invites more civil comments.

John said...

Thanks for visiting mine too Raamesh.

Let's hope it does!