The World According to Renee

Views, Reviews, Short Stories and More…

Competing with the LOLs

I recently read a book called the Online Copywriter’s Handbook by Robert Bly. Bly is one of the highest paid copywriters in the US, so one would hope he knows what he’s talking about.

One early chapter in the book was about our beloved English language and how the language is still the same on the internet (in comparison to printed media). This book was written in 2002 but it seems outdated, even now.


Internet speak has become its own language. Abbreviations rule, along with a general disregard for spelling and grammar. I understand the desire to write abbreviations (within reason- I’m looking at you, Alex!) and I also understand the desire to get thoughts out quickly without censoring or editing information. But when did we lose the ability or desire to spell correctly? I’m lucky to have had adequate schooling and a thirst for reading, so usually I can see a word and know instantly whether or not it is spelled correctly or written in acceptable grammar. Spelling mistakes I make are usually typos or the Aussie way of spelling (which triggers my US-based spell check into the red squiggly underlines).

My pet peeves with regard to spelling are:
1) lose – loose.
2) their – there – they’re
3) know – no – now

There are more, but even as I write these, my heart is beating with increased adrenaline with sudden annoyance so I should stop before I give myself a heart attack.

I’m lucky in that the majority of people I interact with over the internet spell properly. There are a few exceptions (such as someone I went to school with and sat next to, who thinks that “threw” means “through” and “phew” means “few”) but on the whole, I am happy with the intelligence of my friends. I am under the impression that people as a whole are able to read and understand proper English.

This cosy little world was shattered one day as I watched a woman reading a brochure. She came across the word “know” and argued with the man sitting with her that when you know something, it’s spelled “no”. I was flabbergasted! After a few minutes of this increasingly heated argument, he decided to tell her about silent k, like knee. She responded by arguing that knee is spelled neey. I almost fainted.

So, the other night whilst having a Copywriting Coaching Call, my coach asked for questions. I asked how the copywriter competes on the online world with the rise of internet speak, death of the English language and general disregard of grammar. Luckily, my coach is just as appalled at the lack of care as I am and basically said that we are professional writers and need to uphold the nuances of the language, with correct spelling, punctuation and grammar. I only hope that people will continue to be able to comprehend proper English and not start heated debates about spelling.

A couple of years ago, before the Queensland elections, there was a radio ad for a candidate which I thought was appalling. The ad was aimed at the barely-able-to-vote group which are the heaviest users of LOL, ROFL, WTF and the like. The narrator, over the course of the ad, actually pronounced these abbreviations. OMG!

In conclusion, if you want me to read your stuff, don’t write in lolcatz.


June 17, 2010 - Posted by | Thoughts & Reflections

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