“Errors in copy tell me, ‘this text wasn’t worth my time to proofread, so it’s not worth your time to read’.” I said this to an author today (not one of mine). This person is currently in the middle of quite the heroic effort to keep typos out of her novel. She has multiple levels of proofreaders swinging away at those tehs, including beta readers, proofers, and an actual editor in there.
I was trying to be encouraging; however, it wasn’t necessarily taken that way. That remark comes across as a bit snobby, actually. Why?
Errors in writing are common. Try typing anything more than a few words without using the delete key, and you’ll see that it’s difficult indeed to type pure, error-free text. Even people who were trained on typewriters had correction tape and white-out to fix their (one-would-hope) rare mistakes. For text to have no errors whatsoever is rare. It signifies that someone not only wrote it (well, yeah) but they read their own writing (never fun), and likely had someone else read it as well.
The corollary of all this is that a block of text with mistakes in it is common. Eliminating errors, therefore, is an attempt to not be commonplace. Might one call it elitist? I think nit. (You could extend this same argument to well-written essays and books: These are rare and precious.)
When the written word is the ritten werd, we notice. We think about the words and the letters, and not the message. When someone doesn’t want me to pay attention to their message, it makes me think they don’t have one.
It could also be that writing clean copy is a sign of someone who loves language, and your typical forum-rat certainly does not. (The few posts in a thread worth reading are usually the ones with a good point and a good proofreading eye.)
I’ll go right on being “elitist”, if it means I can be picky about the language I love.
Did I miss anything here? Please discuss in the comments.
I’m proud to say that the only typos that the so-called “proofread” function in WordPress caught are the ones I introduced deliberately. Yay me!