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Jul 6, 2013 07:09 PM

How much do grammar, spelling and usage...

affect how seriously you take an online review? 'Your going to love it." 'Did not meat my expectations.' In the internet age, am I a snob to think that quasi-literates are quasi-tasters? (And Dog help me if a goof gets by on this post! For example, if I had said 'effect' instead of 'affect')

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  1. Means almost everything to me. If I have to decipher a post, I do not take it seriously.

    1. If you're talking about just on the Internet via a blog post or a post here on Chowhound, then it means absolutely nothing.

      Those kinds of online reviews are largely unedited, made by amateurs. And the authors may sometimes not even be proficient in the English language -- they may be foreigners, or just an ESL student, or they just may be really really young. Who knows. And so who really cares.

      (I can only imagine what my grammar would be like if I tried to post in Chinese. Ugh.)

      But if we're talking any sort of formal publication -- either a print publication with an online presence or a pure online magazine where there's actually an editing process involved -- then fuck yeah, it matters. Alot.

      18 Replies
      1. re: ipsedixit

        I wonder how many CHers realize that not everyone grew up with English as their first language. If we went by English grammar, Morimoto would immediately be discounted for food knowledge.

        1. re: chowser

          Morimoto speaks much better english than most internet posters that grew up in the States.

          1. re: PotatoHouse

            Who, for people, that for things. Not that I'd discount your food views because you got it wrong...

          2. re: chowser

            Can you imagine if the tables were turned.

            Let's say the OP was posting not in an English dominated forum, but a forum based on some foreign language (say, Swahili) and some Kenyan poster queried (in perfect Swahili, of course):

            "Je discount reviewers chakula ambao hawana kutumia sarufi sahihi?"

            1. re: ipsedixit

              I was thinking I make a decent loaf of focaccia but if I had to describe it in Italian, it would be sad. Molto cattivo.

              1. re: chowser

                Yeah, but you know what? I'd still pay attention to your review, and probably salivate at the thought of your focaccia.

            2. re: chowser

              This is why I think correct writing is important - when English is your second language and you're reading a site written in English, posts filled with errors make the reading extra difficult! You can find yourself thinking things such as 'Well, maybe there IS supposed to be an apostrophe before the S all the time!', and when you click that beautiful feature Google offers to translate the page into your own language, it still doesn't make sense because it can't translate the incorrectly spelled words.

              1. re: JulesNoctambule

                I try to have proper grammar and spelling, and I make an effort to be correct, although I know I make mistakes. Sometimes posts make perfect sense in my head but aren't as clear to others. I also realize some people don't speak English as a first language, or just don't have the same priorities as I do. If they make a grammatical error, I don't discount their views on food. As has been pointed out in this thread, those who find grammar to be the utmost importance have errors in their posts. Can anyone truly cast a stone?

                As I've said, I was a math major and I think math is an important skill. At the same time, I'd never discount someone's view on food because he/she can't accurately convert one size pan to another. This site is about finding good food, not about having perfect grammar or being able to do math. If I let perfect grammar dictate where I eat, I could be missing some good eats. It comes down to what's more important to you.

                1. re: chowser


                  I think that most of us, do attempt to do things correctly, but there can be issues - spellcheck, autofill, declaring "Wine-thirty" two hours before, or just fingers, that do not hit the correct keys. "Stuff" happens, and I can often overlook such mistakes. Heck, I have made them all, plus some. Besides, I know that if I miss some, say "gender and number," at least 800 "perfect Chowhounds," will be quick to correct me. I have no fear. They are all perfect, and oh so quick.


                  1. re: Bill Hunt

                    Not to mention the sudden widespread use of touch-screen keyboards. That's my big challenge.

                2. re: JulesNoctambule

                  Excellent point, Jules! How do ESL students react?

                  Here in Canada, and probably elsewhere, immigrants receive more rigorous instruction in our language than native speakers - through necessity.

                  The sentence, "My aunts pen's are on the bureau's of my uncle's," probably carries a lot of force for them. Especially if the foregoing is out of their bosses' stylebooks.

                  A friendly aside to mwhitmore who started this excellent thread: please review your quotation marks.

                  1. re: DockPotato

                    Yes, as I am from Mississippi, then I am one of those ESL students.


                    1. re: Bill Hunt

                      I notice, when browsing ESL websites, that ESL students are taught such things as the difference between using "bring" and "take" in a sentence.

                      Maybe the ESL students will be teaching the natives in the near future!

                      1. re: sandylc

                        my ESL students are obsessive about having proper grammar...asking questions about usage that I have occasionally had to go research (and I'm a straight-A stickler for grammar.)

                  2. re: JulesNoctambule

                    Exactly. And conversely, using misspellings and abbreviations -- especially abbreviations that reflect the way a word is pronounced -- just make it harder for people who don't speak English fluently to understand your post. I had a housemate from Sweden in college who remarked that she liked talking to me because (among other reasons, I'm sure <g>) I didn't use a lot of slang/idioms compared to the typical college student.

                    I can usually tell if a post is written by someone who is not a native English speaker as opposed to an English speaker who is just lazy and careless -- there are specific kinds of grammar and syntax errors and usage -- and I judge them accordingly.

                    1. re: Ruth Lafler

                      What about someone who didn't have a great formal education? Would you be less likely to listen to his/her views on good food on these boards because of it, even if English were his/her first language? It could be that someone was never taught about misplaced modifyers, use of commas, or a whole host of complaints made here in this thread. The idea that someone who is less educated cannot recognize when food is good seems elitist to me.

                      1. re: chowser

                        If you read what I wrote farther down the thread, to me it has to do with whether I think the person is putting care and effort into his or her post. I certainly don't judge people on misplaced modifiers and commas, rather whether they're writing in coherent sentences. If they can't be bothered to put some effort into writing their opinion, then I can't be bothered to spend my time reading it.

                        1. re: Ruth Lafler

                          I guess I have to disagree with that. Earlier today I was having a technical problem with my iPad. I searched for the problem online and found several forums where the same question was asked.

                          None of the responders wrote English very well at all, and it took some work on my part to figure out what they were saying, but they had the answer to my problem and the decent English speakers didn't. How much you want the information depends on how well you're willing to tolerate their attempts to communicate.

                          And yes, some of the responders were Indian, but some were Americans who were EFL. They hadn't paid attention in their English classes, but they were awake as far as tech goes.

              2. I think the word 'meh' is kind of embarrassing.

                11 Replies
                1. re: poser

                  It's embarrassing in the sense that it's such a fuckin' cliche. Kinda like "off the hook" or "to die for".

                  1. re: MGZ

                    See now I like "meh" because it's succinct. I'm not always grammatically correct since I prefer to sound conversationally correct.

                    One writer's input on my local board clearly shows he's well-educated. Sometimes he becomes distracted while writing and gibberish comes out. I take the time to read because I sense what's gone wrong.

                    On the other hand, if a person is ranting I immediately tune out if said rant isn't really in English.

                    1. re: MGZ

                      i like "meh," partially because the alternatives are just so-so.

                    2. re: poser

                      I automatically discount any word after I read the word "meh". It drives me bananas!

                      1. re: pagesinthesun

                        I kind of like "meh". Don't know why. On the other hand, "nom, nom, nom" drives me nuts.

                        1. re: dmjordan

                          "Meh" is a word that doesn't have any equivalent -- it's actually a new word that describes a feeling of indifference and slight disappointment. "Nom, nom, nom" is baby talk.

                          1. re: Ruth Lafler

                            "Meh" is the verbal equivalent of having a hand up, palm down and rotating the hand, thumb and pinky up and down.

                            1. re: Ruth Lafler

                              We used to have cats, when they would refuse something they disliked and made motions like they were trying to cover it up, we said they were saying FEH.

                              1. re: Candy

                                But FEH is certainly not the same as MEH. :-)

                                1. re: CindyJ

                                  at least in my house, Meh is apathetic - it's there; not much to talk about either good or bad.

                                  Feh has crossed the border to being bad.

                                  1. re: sunshine842

                                    In my house, "feh" is beyond the border of bad. I remember as a kid, going out for Chinese food with my family, having lobster Cantonese, bringing a lobster claw shell home with me and showing it to my Jewish grandmother, who kept kosher. Her reaction: "FEH!!!" To me, that's the quintessence of "feh."

                      2. When we were all standing in line to receive our own individual attributes, the one for excellent grammar and spelling did not go hand in hand with the one for superior tastebuds. Quite frankly, it doesn't necessarily go hand in hand with superior intelligence. If anything, I think the internet age is largely responsible for a decline in grammar and spelling. Or maybe it's just a matter of people being too busy to bother with proofreading what they've written.

                        To specifically answer your question, if I discounted what someone was saying every time I noticed an error, I would miss out on a lot of good stuff.

                        And yes, you have a bit of a punctuation error there. :-)

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: MrsJonesey

                          Thank you! Which one? I can see that my last 'sentence' did not have a subject and verb. But that was not punctuation. I really want to know.

                          1. re: mwhitmore

                            lol. I was being facetious. Your last 'sentence' was a phrase and did not require a subject and a verb, but did need a period. Or at least I think I remember being taught that. :-) Your beginning and ending quotation marks on your first example don't match. I have probably made comparable errors in this thread alone though.

                            1. re: MrsJonesey

                              Very VERY good! And your original point, about the lack of correlation between grammar etc. and ideas is precisely the discussion I wished to provoke. I'm still not sure.

                        2. I seriously worry about the fate the written word with
                          the proliferation of Tweeting and texting and so on. I know
                          not everyone was blessed with my sixth grade English
                          teacher whose methods I hated at the time but have stood
                          me in good stead - not that there haven't been typos,
                          etc. in some of my posts.

                          My opinion of posts and posters is based on a combination
                          of content and style. If the content of a post is solid and
                          sincere, I can overlook the occasional typo or mispelling.
                          But if an entry is full of errors, I have to wonder about what else the poster might be careless or misinformed.

                          That doesn't mean that I disregard posts that contain
                          errors but I am probably prone to give more weight to
                          those that are well presented.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: ferventfoodie

                            I agree, and specifically wish to exclude typos. OTOH I must note that 'mispelling" is misspelled. Sorry!

                            1. re: mwhitmore

                              You got me there - but as I said above, my posts are far
                              from perfect. Re: Bill Hunt's comment. Although I am
                              pretty good at lanuage (at least English), I admit to being
                              a computer illiterate. My laptop doesn't have Spellcheck
                              (which as you pointed out can be problematic) and I have
                              no idea how to install it. And I've never heard of Grammar
                              Checker so I'm on my own.