1414: "Writing Skills"

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ysth
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1414: "Writing Skills"

Postby ysth » Fri Aug 29, 2014 6:36 am UTC

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Title-text: "I'd like to find a corpus of writing writing from children in a non-self-selected sample (e.g. handwritten letters to the president from everyone in the same teacher's 7th grade class every year)--and score the kids today versus the kids 20 years ago on various objective measures of writing quality. I've heard the idea that exposure to all this amateur peer practice is hurting us, but I'd bet on the generation that conducts the bulk of their social lives via the written word over the generation that occasionally wrote book reports and letters to grandma once a year, any day."

But their cursive sucks.
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1414: "Writing Skills"

Postby jackal » Fri Aug 29, 2014 6:40 am UTC

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Title text: I'd like to find a corpus of writing writing from children in a non-self-selected sample (e.g. handwritten letters to the president from everyone in the same teacher's 7th grade class every year)--and score the kids today versus the kids 20 years ago on various objective measures of writing quality. I've heard the idea that exposure to all this amateur peer practice is hurting us, but I'd bet on the generation that conducts the bulk of their social lives via the written word over the generation that occasionally wrote book reports and letters to grandma once a year, any day.

Malcolm Gladwell talks about the 10,000-hour rule in his book "Outliers." (Ten thousand hours of practice doing something makes it more than likely you'll be a virtuoso at that thing.) The question is, are kids today virtuosos at writing or at writing poorly? Hmm.

Also, do kids care about things like writing the President anymore? I wrote Bush 41 when I was in elementary school. I don't encounter many kids these days who care about the bigger picture. Or maybe I'm just getting old. (Get off my lawn.)

Also also: sic on the title text.

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Re: 1414: "Writing Skills"

Postby rhomboidal » Fri Aug 29, 2014 6:51 am UTC

Clearly, this is the case, since so much of the literary output of "hardcore" texters is as incomprehensible as Finnegans Wake.

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Re: 1414: "Writing Skills"

Postby WilliamLehnsherr » Fri Aug 29, 2014 7:23 am UTC

Could this mean there might be a generation that can actually understand Finnegans Wake?

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Re: 1414: "Writing Skills"

Postby keithl » Fri Aug 29, 2014 7:24 am UTC

ysth wrote:But their cursive sucks.
My cursive sucks, and I learned it 50 years ago. I learned to type (on a manual typewriter) 48 years ago, because my near-calligrapher architect father thought my cursive sucked then, too. Now I can barely manage a repeatable signature.

I never did figure out fountain pens; penmanship and signatures will follow those into oblivion sooner or later, used only by calligraphers and Koranic scholars.

My guess is that wysiwyg wordsmithing will follow those; writers will produce symbol streams more like texting, which will be expanded into full prose (in any language, written or spoken) by software, customized per reader to match their needs and knowledge. I expect millenial curmudgeons will someday bemoan the fact that no two readers will read the same text.

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Re: 1414: "Writing Skills"

Postby oac » Fri Aug 29, 2014 7:38 am UTC

I write with fountain pens all the time. Classy as hell :)

Furthermore, in Belgium, almost anyone can write cursive. Sad evolution in the US...

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Re: 1414: "Writing Skills"

Postby Envelope Generator » Fri Aug 29, 2014 7:41 am UTC

I'd like to say something about my developing dislike of WHG strips but I would be complaining shallowly about shallow complaints about shallow complaints.
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Re: 1414: "Writing Skills"

Postby speising » Fri Aug 29, 2014 8:01 am UTC

even if it's true, grammar and spelling do not make a good writer. rather a good copy editor.

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Re: 1414: "Writing Skills"

Postby StClair » Fri Aug 29, 2014 8:12 am UTC

Does most texting even follow English grammar? (Obviously not spelling.) It seems to be its own thing.

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Re: 1414: "Writing Skills"

Postby bachaddict » Fri Aug 29, 2014 8:25 am UTC

StClair wrote:Does most texting even follow English grammar? (Obviously not spelling.) It seems to be its own thing.

I think part of it would be grammar of convenience, using the fewest possible words to express meaning. Another part is street slang, which evolves with lightning speed but stays within sight of "proper" grammar.
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Re: 1414: "Writing Skills"

Postby nlitchfield » Fri Aug 29, 2014 8:26 am UTC

This TED talk has something interesting and related to say about texting, writing and language.

I entirely agree about cursive, mine was so bad 35 years ago they wondered if I was in fact left handed and mistaught, I wasn't.

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Re: 1414: "Writing Skills"

Postby The Chosen One » Fri Aug 29, 2014 8:38 am UTC

Ironically, 'surprise' is misspelled in the first panel.

...or, appropriately? I don't know how much Randall sexts.
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Re: 1414: "Writing Skills"

Postby Neil_Boekend » Fri Aug 29, 2014 8:47 am UTC

WilliamLehnsherr wrote:Could this mean there might be a generation that can actually understand Finnegans Wake?

Or a generation that can decode encrypted messages faster out of the top of their heads than a computer can.
Or a generation of cryptologists
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Re: 1414: "Writing Skills"

Postby BlitzGirl » Fri Aug 29, 2014 8:58 am UTC

The Chosen One wrote:Ironically, 'surprise' is misspelled in the first panel.

Cueball is obviously not sexting enough.
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Re: 1414: "Writing Skills"

Postby Xenomortis » Fri Aug 29, 2014 9:52 am UTC

My cursive style plummeted around age 10.
At 15, I suffered a repetitive strain injury for around a year and as a result avoid large amounts of writing (writing essays when your arm feels like it's on fire is a good way to develop aversions), often tiring quite quickly.

Now my handwriting resembles the death throws of a nine-legged spider covered in ink.
Unhindered though, are my abilities to conjure up images like that one.

Interestingly, I still consider my notepad and pen to be among the most important items on my desk (above my calculator and phone).
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Re: 1414: "Writing Skills"

Postby bachaddict » Fri Aug 29, 2014 10:14 am UTC

This just cries out for OTTifying! I'd do it myself if I had a better grasp of OTTish. Mine will sound like Automome compared to what a true OTTer could do.

"Weird-
Another poll found that molpies who use OTTish actually score higher on manip and filking tests."

"Why the ch*rp is that a surprise?"

"Imagine molpies suddenly start playing hotdogs literally all the Time. Everywhere they go, they throw Ongs back and forth, toss them in the air, and hurl them at baobabs and castles- nearly every waking nopix of their lives."

"Do you think their Forty will suck at Q04B because they learned goatish skills?"

"So you think a molpy will become a wowterful mome while dunejumping?"

"Have you even blitzed Blitzgirl's peoms? The phrases "Ni ni ni chupacabra ping pong ball" and "Ch*rping m*stard" appear.
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P.S. this is the first time I've seen threads before and after merging.
Last edited by bachaddict on Fri Aug 29, 2014 10:16 am UTC, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: 1414: "Writing Skills"

Postby CharlieP » Fri Aug 29, 2014 10:16 am UTC

Interesting. So what is responsible for young people's poor grammar and spelling?
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Re: 1414: "Writing Skills"

Postby StClair » Fri Aug 29, 2014 10:20 am UTC

Somewhere around age 10-15, I became dissatisfied with my mixed-case printing, and switched over to using "small caps" instead. This is what I still use for short notes, up to a single page.
Within another ten years, computers and/or my access to them became sufficiently ubiquitous that I was able to abandon cursive handwriting in favor of typing for all longer text.

CharlieP: In my experience, laziness - a belief that the effort and attention required to follow "the rules" is only necessary for school assignments, etc, and that communication on the internet doesn't "count", even though "life" and "the internet" are rapidly approaching unity.
The irony is that, at least in my case, I have absorbed "the rules" sufficiently well and/or early that deliberately breaking them - e.g., to parody txt-speak - requires similar conscious and deliberate effort.

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Re: 1414: "Writing Skills"

Postby mojacardave » Fri Aug 29, 2014 10:34 am UTC

The biggest problem with writing skills for kids at the moment, is that everything is geared around computers and phones EXCEPT for exams.

In a few years (decades?) when all language exams are done on a computer I reckon there'll be a sudden sharp spike in grades. Any downward trends at the moment are probably more due to kids barely writing anything with a pen in the real world before exam day. It physically hurts me to write for more than about 20 minutes nowadays, due to lack of practise.

When I was a kid, a maximum of two of our English coursework assignments (out of five) were permitted to be word processed. Nowadays I'm guessing that teachers would just refuse to mark coursework if it had been handwritten, in the same way that companies would never issue a drawing done by hand, or a handwritten report.

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Re: 1414: "Writing Skills"

Postby cellocgw » Fri Aug 29, 2014 11:26 am UTC

jackal wrote:
Malcolm Gladwell talks about the 10,000-hour rule in his book "Outliers." (Ten thousand hours of practice doing something makes it more than likely you'll be a virtuoso at that thing.) The question is, are kids today virtuosos at writing or at writing poorly? Hmm.


Gladwell's a lazy poser who doesn't do anything remotely resembling reseach. He just likes to trumpet pet pseudotheories. But to answer yr question: kidz wl becum xprts at txtng in a style all thr pwn. But they'll be really bad at composing anything longer than a grocery list.

Xenomortis wrote:
Now my handwriting resembles the death throws of a nine-legged spider covered in ink.

That is a wonderful, if unintentional, mis-homonymization there :D . Is the spider throwing something while dying, or is it throwing death at other animals?
Last edited by cellocgw on Fri Aug 29, 2014 12:48 pm UTC, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: 1414: "Writing Skills"

Postby Plutarch » Fri Aug 29, 2014 11:28 am UTC

I think there are some problems with the assumptions in this comic, if the conclusion we're meant to draw is that great writers are more likely to appear now that everyone is texting. As pointed out above -
speising wrote:even if it's true, grammar and spelling do not make a good writer. rather a good copy editor.

the fact that someone scores well on grammar and spelling tests doesn't necessarily mean they will be any good at writing. All it means is they'd be good at copy-editing. Or pedantically pointing out grammar and spelling mistakes on the internet.

Also, the connection to James Joyce seems misplaced. He might have used some crude language in his love letters, but before he ever experimented with language he had a very firm grasp of accepted literary English, as demonstrated in his early books.

As for the 'throwing and catching balls' leading to successs at baseball, is that true? I don't know anything about baseball, but I wouldn't regard the equivalent as true in football, meaning soccer. There are people who can do amazing tricks with a football, 'street players' who can do all sorts of 'keepi-uppie' tricks that look great when you see them on adverts on TV, but these players don't play for big teams. They're good at tricks, but not good enough at the right things to become successful professional footballers.

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Re: 1414: "Writing Skills"

Postby LtPowers » Fri Aug 29, 2014 11:48 am UTC

Plutarch wrote:As for the 'throwing and catching balls' leading to successs at baseball, is that true? I don't know anything about baseball, but I wouldn't regard the equivalent as true in football, meaning soccer. There are people who can do amazing tricks with a football, 'street players' who can do all sorts of 'keepi-uppie' tricks that look great when you see them on adverts on TV, but these players don't play for big teams. They're good at tricks, but not good enough at the right things to become successful professional footballers.


You're talking about individuals. Cueball is talking about populations.


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Re: 1414: "Writing Skills"

Postby gmalivuk » Fri Aug 29, 2014 11:52 am UTC

oac wrote:I write with fountain pens all the time. Classy as hell :)

Furthermore, in Belgium, almost anyone can write cursive. Sad evolution in the US...

Why is that sad?

Cursive serves no practical purpose and is generally speaking more difficult for other people to read, to the point of being impossible for many whose native language is in a different script.
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Re: 1414: "Writing Skills"

Postby Epod » Fri Aug 29, 2014 11:56 am UTC

CharlieP wrote:Interesting. So what is responsible for young people's poor grammar and spelling?


The problem isn't just that today's kids are learning SMS abbreviations, rather, the problem is that they are NOT learning the telex abbreviations we used ("WUTCO GA" still brings a tear of joy to my eye), or the oh-so-elegant telegraphy abbreviations that bejeweled their grandparents' prose.

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Re: 1414: "Writing Skills"

Postby Flumble » Fri Aug 29, 2014 12:06 pm UTC

The Chosen One wrote:Ironically, 'surprise' is misspelled in the first panel.

...or, appropriately? I don't know how much Randall sexts.

I'm all in for "suprise"; the R is silent and fuck etymology. On the other hand English is notorious for its inconsistent (when comparing sounds to symbols) spelling, so the spelling of "surprise" isn't surprising.

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Re: 1414: "Writing Skills"

Postby gmalivuk » Fri Aug 29, 2014 12:11 pm UTC

Nor do they learn more than a scant few Latin abbreviations. Hell, most kids these days don't even no how to make proper papyrus!

CharlieP wrote:Interesting. So what is responsible for young people's poor grammar and spelling?
First, citation needed that young people have poorer grammar and spelling, as that's kinda the point of the comic.

If there is such a thing, I suggest it's due to teachers and other adults adhering to an obsolete speaking/writing dichotomy in place of the more accurate and useful formal/informal one they actually want to talk about. Don't something so patently false as, "We don't write 'gonna'," when the briefest glance online will show multiple examples of people doing just that. It may once have been the case that almost all children's writing was done in a formal or at least academic setting, but that is clearly no longer the case.
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Re: 1414: "Writing Skills"

Postby Xenomortis » Fri Aug 29, 2014 12:14 pm UTC

cellocgw wrote:
Xenomortis wrote:Now my handwriting resembles the death throws of a nine-legged spider covered in ink.

That is a wonderful, if unintentional, mis-homonymization there :D . Is the spider throwing something while dying, or is it throwing death at other animals?

It was actually a typo* - obviously not one that would appear on the auto-spell check and not one my brain is trained to pick up when reading.

But using my notepad as evidence, the spider was probably trying to throw its superfluous, ink covered, leg at a target on the opposite page, death clearly on its mind.
The action is untidy and was perhaps the climax of a rapidly escalating disagreement.

*Clearly I'm suffering from a lack of keyboard proficiency lessons!
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Re: 1414: "Writing Skills"

Postby Minstrel » Fri Aug 29, 2014 12:18 pm UTC

This one raised a big "correlation...causation" red flag for me.

If indeed grammar and spelling scores are higher now (and I'll assume that's true because Randall usually does his research well), maybe it's because:

* We're teaching kids better?
* The tests are different or graded differently?
* The population has shifted?

Just a few off the top of my head. Any or all may not be true. But it seems like "Grammar and spelling scores are higher. Kids are texting more. Therefore texting improves grammar and spelling scores" is a stretch.

As for his playing catch argument, I'd counter with the well-known (well, it's well-known to me because I'm married to a language teacher) issue of fossilized errors. In a nutshell, students who learn who to do something incorrectly in early grades are usually harder to retrain in later ones. It seems entirely conceivable that bad grammar in texting could fall into that category.

Not saying any of that is necessarily true. Just that it's a bit flip to imply correlation when maybe kids are succeeding in spite or, rather than because of, texting.

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Re: 1414: "Writing Skills"

Postby Introbulus » Fri Aug 29, 2014 1:20 pm UTC

WIthout reading past the first word, I'm going to guess that this comic has white-hat guy's theory about how humans work get completely shut down by Cueball

Yup, shut down the theory that SMS abbreviations lead to poor writing. Ingratiatingly too.

You know, I think we ought to start calling the guy in the white hat "Straw Hat Man". It would fit him very well.

keithl wrote:
ysth wrote:But their cursive sucks.
My cursive sucks, and I learned it 50 years ago. I learned to type (on a manual typewriter) 48 years ago, because my near-calligrapher architect father thought my cursive sucked then, too. Now I can barely manage a repeatable signature.

I think I found the source of your problem. Try comparing yourself to someone who did not learn, as part of his career, to write perfectly and to be understood in each word he wrote.

Envelope Generator wrote:I'd like to say something about my developing dislike of WHG strips but I would be complaining shallowly about shallow complaints about shallow complaints.

Never fear, I did it for you! I guess that's what I get for posting without reading the rest of the posts.

Plutarch wrote:the fact that someone scores well on grammar and spelling tests doesn't necessarily mean they will be any good at writing. All it means is they'd be good at copy-editing. Or pedantically pointing out grammar and spelling mistakes on the internet.


Aaah, that explains it.

As for the 'throwing and catching balls' leading to successs at baseball, is that true? I don't know anything about baseball, but I wouldn't regard the equivalent as true in football, meaning soccer. There are people who can do amazing tricks with a football, 'street players' who can do all sorts of 'keepi-uppie' tricks that look great when you see them on adverts on TV, but these players don't play for big teams. They're good at tricks, but not good enough at the right things to become successful professional footballers.

You'd get remarkably good at throwing for sure, but your ability to work together in a team would be tremendously low. Same for basically any sport that you 'play' but don't actually cooperate in. Mind, if you DO work in a team 'on the street', then you'll be good in a team...that uses street rules and street strategies. It's sort of what happened to the Mighty Ducks in their 2nd movie, where their cute little league tactics failed to have any effect on the Actual tactics of the much better Hockey team, and they had to learn all over again how to work together as a team.

They were still good hockey players, with a solid understanding of the game and their individual parts to play, but the strategy they'd learned was completely fruitless against professional players.

Sort of like how the ability to accurately and rapidly type out quick messages and be understood do not translate into the ability to construct elegant and engaging literature.

Minstrel wrote:This one raised a big "correlation...causation" red flag for me.

If indeed grammar and spelling scores are higher now (and I'll assume that's true because Randall usually does his research well), maybe it's because:

* We're teaching kids better?
* The tests are different or graded differently?
* The population has shifted?

Just a few off the top of my head. Any or all may not be true. But it seems like "Grammar and spelling scores are higher. Kids are texting more. Therefore texting improves grammar and spelling scores" is a stretch.

The specific statistic Munroe is quoting is that students who use SMS are scoring higher than students who don't, so it's not as much an 'everyone is doing better' statistic as it is a 'these students are doing better' statistic.

However, your critique is not misplaced. This is still a correlation/causation problem. It's possible that students who use SMS are doing better than students who don't because those students come from better-off families that can afford cell phones. That's the one I'd dig at right away. True that this isn't always going to hold (poor families can have cell phones, well-off families can forbid constant texting) but it's another possibility.

And, just because another cause can't be named doesn't mean that the correlation is correct. If it only rains when I don't have my umbrella, but my umbrella doesn't prevent the rain, that doesn't mean that some other force is preventing rain from happening.
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Re: 1414: "Writing Skills"

Postby pixeldigger » Fri Aug 29, 2014 2:16 pm UTC

Introbulus wrote:

As for the 'throwing and catching balls' leading to successs at baseball, is that true? I don't know anything about baseball, but I wouldn't regard the equivalent as true in football, meaning soccer. There are people who can do amazing tricks with a football, 'street players' who can do all sorts of 'keepi-uppie' tricks that look great when you see them on adverts on TV, but these players don't play for big teams. They're good at tricks, but not good enough at the right things to become successful professional footballers.

You'd get remarkably good at throwing for sure, but your ability to work together in a team would be tremendously low. Same for basically any sport that you 'play' but don't actually cooperate in. Mind, if you DO work in a team 'on the street', then you'll be good in a team...that uses street rules and street strategies. It's sort of what happened to the Mighty Ducks in their 2nd movie, where their cute little league tactics failed to have any effect on the Actual tactics of the much better Hockey team, and they had to learn all over again how to work together as a team.

They were still good hockey players, with a solid understanding of the game and their individual parts to play, but the strategy they'd learned was completely fruitless against professional players.

Sort of like how the ability to accurately and rapidly type out quick messages and be understood do not translate into the ability to construct elegant and engaging literature.



as a former coach, I can tell you that kids that learn bad habits (elbowin, leading with the shoulder, no hip rotation) are hard to teach the proper fundamentals.While at a "friendly" level of competition, they excel , but when they try to take it to the next level, they have to unlearn these bad habits and sometimes it is too much for them. Sometimes they adapt, and use their existing skills with their new fundamentals to do even better.
I use myself as an example. I was taught the continental grip in tennis, and all my life was an average tennis player. Now that I am old and can't play the hard exertion games like volleyball and basketball anymore, I still play Tennis. An elbow injury led me to change my grip to a semi-western. After a few months of hacking, I learned how to swing with the new grip, and now suddenly have a power and control I never had before. The court awarenss and judgements from before combined with the new grip make me a better player. My wife, on the other hand can't hit a thing with the new grip and has to keep using continental grips. I wish we had learned earlier, and we would BOTH have a better game.

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Re: 1414: "Writing Skills"

Postby Alsadius » Fri Aug 29, 2014 2:17 pm UTC

Why on earth would I want to write like James Joyce? I'd rather gouge out my eyeballs with ice-cream scoops.

CharlieP wrote:Interesting. So what is responsible for young people's poor grammar and spelling?


The fact that the average person's writing is pretty bad, but we don't generally see Grandma's nearly as often as little Timmy's.

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Re: 1414: "Writing Skills"

Postby gmalivuk » Fri Aug 29, 2014 2:30 pm UTC

Introbulus wrote:WIthout reading past the first word, I'm going to guess that this comic has white-hat guy's theory about how humans work get completely shut down by Cueball

Yup, shut down the theory that SMS abbreviations lead to poor writing. Ingratiatingly too.

You know, I think we ought to start calling the guy in the white hat "Straw Hat Man". It would fit him very well.
You people who love to pretend WHG is always a straw man must be astoundingly well-sheltered from the peeving that goes on here in the real world. Those of us unfortunately exposed to the popular press and mainstream media have noticed years and years worth of complaining by old people about how badly young people "these days" speak and write. (Well, more accurately old people have always complained about this, but in the past decade or so it most often takes the specific form of complaining about txt-speak.)

Just because WHG isn't putting forward any of your personal pet arguments against whatever he's whining about, doesn't mean they are straw arguments.

Sort of like how the ability to accurately and rapidly type out quick messages and be understood do not translate into the ability to construct elegant and engaging literature.
If language peeving restricted itself to despair that today's students can't write engaging literature, this would be a relevant point. (The counterpoin, of course, would be that the vast majority of people in all generations have been unable to write engaging literature.)

But the reality is that basic grammar (incorrectly treated as including spelling and punctuation) is basically the only thing the whiners do, in fact, complain about. So the response about texters having good grammar and spelling is actually a valid on, unlike the posts about how that doesn't mean they're actually "good writers".
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Western Rover
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Re: 1414: "Writing Skills"

Postby Western Rover » Fri Aug 29, 2014 2:57 pm UTC

gmalivuk wrote:
oac wrote:I write with fountain pens all the time. Classy as hell :)

Furthermore, in Belgium, almost anyone can write cursive. Sad evolution in the US...

Why is that sad?

Cursive serves no practical purpose and is generally speaking more difficult for other people to read, to the point of being impossible for many whose native language is in a different script.


Of course cursive serves a practical purpose. It's faster than printing letters by hand, and faster than an on-screen keyboard (but not faster than a real keyboard); therefore I use it for taking notes when I don't have a computer in front of me. I agree that cursive is difficult for others to read, so I don't use it for this purpose.

I don't consider cursive classy, but I do consider it practical.

nitePhyyre
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Re: 1414: "Writing Skills"

Postby nitePhyyre » Fri Aug 29, 2014 3:16 pm UTC

Good point, Randall!
sourmìlk wrote:Monopolies are not when a single company controls the market for a single product.

You don't become great by trying to be great. You become great by wanting to do something, and then doing it so hard you become great in the process.

Farabor
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Re: 1414: "Writing Skills"

Postby Farabor » Fri Aug 29, 2014 3:25 pm UTC

jackal wrote:
Malcolm Gladwell talks about the 10,000-hour rule in his book "Outliers." (Ten thousand hours of practice doing something makes it more than likely you'll be a virtuoso at that thing.) The question is, are kids today virtuosos at writing or at writing poorly? Hmm.

.


Disregarding the source of this idea and supposing for the sake of argument that it's true, it still wouldn't say anything. One could easily posit the correlation-causation argument going in either way: Practice makes perfect for the forward, and people naturally spend lots of times on things that they are good at and give up/spend less times on things they are bad at in the reverse direction.

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Introbulus
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Re: 1414: "Writing Skills"

Postby Introbulus » Fri Aug 29, 2014 3:27 pm UTC

gmalivuk wrote:
Introbulus wrote:WIthout reading past the first word, I'm going to guess that this comic has white-hat guy's theory about how humans work get completely shut down by Cueball

Yup, shut down the theory that SMS abbreviations lead to poor writing. Ingratiatingly too.

You know, I think we ought to start calling the guy in the white hat "Straw Hat Man". It would fit him very well.
You people who love to pretend WHG is always a straw man must be astoundingly well-sheltered from the peeving that goes on here in the real world. Those of us unfortunately exposed to the popular press and mainstream media have noticed years and years worth of complaining by old people about how badly young people "these days" speak and write. (Well, more accurately old people have always complained about this, but in the past decade or so it most often takes the specific form of complaining about txt-speak.)

Just because WHG isn't putting forward any of your personal pet arguments against whatever he's whining about, doesn't mean they are straw arguments.

I'm less annoyed by WHG putting forward arguments that Cueball easlily shoots down than I am about Cueball always shooting them down so flippantly, and WHG always accepting the counter-argument as fact. This includes a few weeks ago when WHG put forward the 'so much for global warming' argument for it being blisteringly cold, even though I'm in complete agreement with Cueball on the reality of the situation.

As for this specific argument, I'm well aware that old people have been making this argument for ages. This argument wouldnt' be showing up in XKCD if someone weren't constantly making this argument unfounded. These just happen to be set up for easy knocking-down, where a real person with this belief would hold onto it much more tightly than is being portrayed.

I also don't mind this format of comic as much as I make it out to be, but it is startingly easy to predict, upon seeing that hat, what role the guy is going to play in today's comic.

Sort of like how the ability to accurately and rapidly type out quick messages and be understood do not translate into the ability to construct elegant and engaging literature.
If language peeving restricted itself to despair that today's students can't write engaging literature, this would be a relevant point. (The counterpoin, of course, would be that the vast majority of people in all generations have been unable to write engaging literature.)

But the reality is that basic grammar (incorrectly treated as including spelling and punctuation) is basically the only thing the whiners do, in fact, complain about. So the response about texters having good grammar and spelling is actually a valid on, unlike the posts about how that doesn't mean they're actually "good writers".

You're stuffing a lot of words into my mouth here. I'm not saying that people don't complain about this - I'm offering an explanation for a particular quoted block that tries to understand if constant practice in this manner leads to good writing - my argument is that no, while it does encourage clarity it doesn't give the texter the sort of practice they need to learn long form writing. It also encourages short, unrelated bursts of writing over more discriptive text.

Also, I don't think kids really DO have as much of a grammar problem as some people suggest. And it is annoying, but haters gonna hate no matter what.
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Re: 1414: "Writing Skills"

Postby MadH » Fri Aug 29, 2014 3:35 pm UTC

Western Rover wrote:
gmalivuk wrote:
oac wrote:I write with fountain pens all the time. Classy as hell :)

Furthermore, in Belgium, almost anyone can write cursive. Sad evolution in the US...

Why is that sad?

Cursive serves no practical purpose and is generally speaking more difficult for other people to read, to the point of being impossible for many whose native language is in a different script.


Of course cursive serves a practical purpose. It's faster than printing letters by hand, and faster than an on-screen keyboard (but not faster than a real keyboard); therefore I use it for taking notes when I don't have a computer in front of me. I agree that cursive is difficult for others to read, so I don't use it for this purpose.

I don't consider cursive classy, but I do consider it practical.


http://www.researchgate.net/publication/240538622_The_Relationship_Between_Handwriting_Style_and_Speed_and_Legibility
Citation and abstract: The relationship between handwriting style and speed and legibility.
Graham, Steve; Weintraub, Naomi; Berninger, Virginia W.
Journal of Educational Research. Vol 91(5), May-Jun 1998, 290-296.
The relationship between handwriting style and handwriting speed and legibility was investigated. Three samples of writing (narrative, expository, and copying) were collected from 600 students in grades 4–9. The copying task provided a measure of handwriting speed, and all 3 writing samples were scored for handwriting style (manuscript, cursive, mixed-mostly manuscript, and mixed-mostly cursive) and legibility. The handwriting of students who used a mixed style was faster than the handwriting of the students who used either manuscript or cursive exclusively. In addition, papers written with mixed-mostly cursive letters generally received higher ratings for legibility than papers written with the other 3 styles did. There were no differences between manuscript and cursive in terms of legibility or speed. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2009 APA, all rights reserved)


Yeah, tell me again how cursive is faster than print. I don't see why a study like this would change over the years.

I absolutely write faster in a mixed style than either exclusively. Back when the teachers said every single thing I wrote had to be in cursive, it was absolute torture. Even though I was practicing cursive every day in my written papers, I could write faster and more legibly in semi-print so that is how I took notes.

armandoalvarez
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Re: 1414: "Writing Skills"

Postby armandoalvarez » Fri Aug 29, 2014 3:36 pm UTC

gmalivuk wrote:
Introbulus wrote:WIthout reading past the first word, I'm going to guess that this comic has white-hat guy's theory about how humans work get completely shut down by Cueball

Yup, shut down the theory that SMS abbreviations lead to poor writing. Ingratiatingly too.

You know, I think we ought to start calling the guy in the white hat "Straw Hat Man". It would fit him very well.
You people who love to pretend WHG is always a straw man must be astoundingly well-sheltered from the peeving that goes on here in the real world. Those of us unfortunately exposed to the popular press and mainstream media have noticed years and years worth of complaining by old people about how badly young people "these days" speak and write. (Well, more accurately old people have always complained about this, but in the past decade or so it most often takes the specific form of complaining about txt-speak.)

Just because WHG isn't putting forward any of your personal pet arguments against whatever he's whining about, doesn't mean they are straw arguments.



I wouldn't call it straw-man-y (straw-manly?) but I found the over-all tone of the comic too "I'm clearly right," and not funny enough.

As to his substantive point, I would think that if there is a real increase in writing and grammar skills, it's because TV-watching time is going down and reading time is going up. I doubt text messages would make you much better at grammar. To use the sports analogy, a sprinting culture (like Jamaica) is not necessarily going to develop good distance runners.

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Gnomish8
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Re: 1414: "Writing Skills"

Postby Gnomish8 » Fri Aug 29, 2014 3:36 pm UTC

Reminds me of a quote from my band instructor when I was still in school.
"Practice doesn't make perfect, it makes permanent."

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Khaz
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Re: 1414: "Writing Skills"

Postby Khaz » Fri Aug 29, 2014 3:39 pm UTC

If that's true someone explain to me why I see "you're/your" used wrong EVERY DAY. That's not an abbreviation, it's a chronic mistake.

Sure, I'll accept that we're on average better than we used to be... but that just makes me sick over just HOW ILLITERATE people used to be on average.


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