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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.

                          2. A review should at least be run through SpellCheck, but that can be problematic. Same thing for a Grammar Checker, but again, things can go bad, and end up badly there.

                            I see such horrible grammar, spelling, lack of punctuation, and lack of general structures, that I probably tend to overlook more, than I once did.


                            39 Replies
                            1. re: Bill Hunt

                              A thoughtful response--thank you.

                              1. re: mwhitmore

                                A lack of, grammar and spelling, is fine with me. But lots of misplaced, commas drive me insane.

                                1. re: JonParker

                                  It's the misplaced apostrophes that get me in a tizzy. But lately I've been wondering if the rules of punctuation that I was taught as a child in the NYC public schools have actually changed. I was taught that an apostrophe s ('s) connotes possession. But last week in the New York Times I saw it used several times in the same article to connote a plural in an article about "C.E.O.'s." It looked wrong, but seeing it in the Times makes me question the rules as I know them.

                                  1. re: CindyJ

                                    When something is an abbreviation, such as CEO's, an apostrophe is appropriate to make it plural cant have a rule without an exception. That would be too easy!

                                    1. re: Hobbert

                                      No, the apostrophe is not appropriate to make it plural. If you want to make it plural, it is simply CEOs. That essentially means Chief Executive Officers.

                                      "The CEOs attended their annual We're Super-Great and Highly Paid Convention."

                                      If you're looking to make it possessive, then the apostrophe is correct.

                                      "The CEO's Executive Assistant is the one who really runs the company."

                                      1. re: LindaWhit

                                        Well, that depends on whose style book you are referring to.


                                        1. re: LindaWhit

                                          I totally agree with your explanation and I don't think the meaning is at all confusing. I think what may have clouded the issue in the NY Times article was that the abbreviation for CEO was written C.E.O. Then, for some reason, the plural was written as C.E.O.'s.

                                        2. re: Hobbert

                                          It's possible to agree with both of you. In popular usage, initials (C.E.O.) are different than an acronym (CEO). C.E.O.'s is just clumsy, while CEO's is ok.

                                            1. re: JonParker

                                              I agree on the clumsiness, and it's not "wrong" so much as it is an irksome style peculiarity of the New York Times, which has particularly arcane rules regarding initialisms and abbreviations, in that it insists on periods between the letters, so C.E.O., I.B.M., etc. And then, because of the periods, the need to use an apostrophe when forming a plural (because C.E.O.s doesn't work). They don't use periods in acronyms, which of course works much better. (CEO is properly an initialism or abbreviation because you say each of the letters separately, whereas an acronym is a word that's formed from initials but pronounced as a word, like NATO, or radar.)

                                            2. re: Hobbert

                                              That is something, which is lost on far, far too many.


                                              1. re: LindaWhit

                                                Well, here's a link to the article with the misused apostrophe, Linda. Do YOU want to call them on it, or should I?


                                                EDIT: Never mind. I found their rationale under the heading, "Why Do Plural Abbreviations Have an Apostrophe?" http://afterdeadline.blogs.nytimes.co...

                                                1. re: CindyJ

                                                  For me this debate ends with the fact that the Baltimore Orioles call themselves the O's and not the Os. If it's good enough for my team, it's good enough for me.

                                                  1. re: JonParker

                                                    Maybe it's because the apostrophe replaces letters, in this case riole, like the Oakland A's (replaces thletic). Not being snotty. That's seriously an assumption. When you spell them out, they're not the Oriole's or Athletic's.

                                                  2. re: CindyJ

                                                    So it's for visual purposes only.

                                                    1. re: CindyJ

                                                      Again, it depends on the style book, that one is using. When an acronym is pluralized, the apostrophe is used, as it would be in a conjunction, such as "can't."

                                                      Now, there are dissensions from that, like the debate on the plural of cactus - here in Phoenix, where we have many, the decision was finally made in the local print media - "cactus" - singular, or plural, and not "cacti." However, many respected botanical publications still use "cacti."

                                                      Rather that arguing Strunk & White vs AP vs BBC, etc., I would go out and campaign against "text message speak," or something important.

                                                      Just my feelings,


                                                      1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                        Bill, I disagree. Acronyms are not supposed to have apostrophes when pluralized. While it is becoming more common to do so, and as such may eventually become accepted common usage, it is not currently correct.

                                                        Oh, and it's "contractions", not "conjunctions".


                                                        1. re: sandylc

                                                          Again, it depends on which style book, one ascribes to. Which are you using?

                                                          Oh gosh, you caught me there. Like I said above, there are 800 Chowhounds, just salivating to correct something. You can wipe your mouth now.


                                            3. re: Bill Hunt

                                              Grammar and punctuation say much more to me than typos/spelling misteaks. :)

                                              Do remember that the smell chucker won't pick up the difference between your/you're, or between pear/pair/pare -- and we've all just flat-out typed the wrong word by accident.

                                              Once or twice doesn't bother me, but a post packed full of misspellings and bad usage makes me question the poster.

                                              I absolutely agree that sensitive palates (palates, not pallets!) aren't always keyed to linguistic abilities...but a professional writer gets no leeway at all. (a historic moment, indeed. Sniff.)

                                              1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                Bill, the sad thing is that 'mediocrity rules' these days. It has become mainstream. I've known CEO's with advanced degrees who can't spell or write properly. Except for a couple of grammatical errors that really piss me off, I tend to ignore most others. I've come to realize that language is used to communicate and, as long as the message being conveyed is understood, then any errors don't really matter.

                                                1. re: mucho gordo

                                                  Then what do you say about grammatical errors so glaring they are their own distraction? I think CEOs who can't spell or write are an embarrassment to themselves and to the companies they represent. Sorry, I don't buy into the "mediocrity rules" viewpoint.

                                                  1. re: CindyJ

                                                    I don't buy into it either but it is the new reality. The CEO's I knew usually came to me to write something for them or proofread what they wrote.

                                                    1. re: mucho gordo

                                                      Well, let's give those CEOs (no apostrophe) credit for recognizing that their writings might have errors. Proofreading is alive and well; it's just not practiced often enough.

                                                    2. re: CindyJ

                                                      There are at least 3 glaring grammatical errors that are so commonplace I cringe every time I see/hear them:
                                                      Using "goes" instead of says
                                                      Using "wait on" instead of wait for (food servers excepted)
                                                      Using "could of" as the contraction for could have (could've)

                                                      1. re: mucho gordo

                                                        Just a few days ago (with this thread very fresh in my mind) I was browsing through the website of a kitchen remodeler. On his home page there was a sizable red banner that read, "Call us if your kitchen or bath needs remodeled." Those little voices in my head were all a-chatter: if this person is sloppy about grammar/syntax, is he also sloppy about the work he performs... etc., etc. But there were two things working in his favor: I had already browsed through a gallery of photos of his work, which I found impressive; and he was located in a geographical area where there is a large Amish population. I wondered if that might be more a colloquial expression than a grammatical error.

                                                        In the end I did call him to discuss my kitchen project, and in the course of our conversation he directed me to his website. There was my opportunity. I asked him -- very kindly and tactfully, I might add -- about the wording in the banner on his home page. He contemplated it for a moment and then told me that his website was created by someone local. He said he had read it over but didn't give the wording a second thought because such phrasing is common in his vicinity. Interestingly enough, the next time I looked at his website I saw that the banner was changed and now reads, "Call us if your kitchen or bath needs to be remodeled."

                                                        1. re: CindyJ

                                                          CindyJ, I see you live in PA. I heard this pattern of speech when I lived in central PA in the mid-1980s. I think it's a PA Dutch speech pattern, which would fit in with the Amish as well.

                                                          1. re: LindaWhit

                                                            Exactly. The kitchen remodeler is located in Lancaster, which, as you probably know, is in the heart of PA Dutch country.

                                                            1. re: CindyJ

                                                              I'm in Pittsburgh and that structure is very common here.

                                                            2. re: LindaWhit

                                                              Yup. My first reaction was that's the kind of error a non-English speaker makes.

                                                            3. re: CindyJ

                                                              Sometimes grammatical errors are used intentionally in marketing. "Winston tastes good like a cigarette should."
                                                              People understand it; the words flow. We had a marketing manager who was a stickler for grammer and used the phrase, "...your numbers add up quicker" in a campaign. He disliked it but saw the marketing point that it was easy to understand.

                                                              1. re: CindyJ

                                                                I'm from Indiana and I remember hearing that sort of thing. A lot of Amish settled there - similar to PA Dutch.

                                                          2. re: mucho gordo

                                                            I cannot argue. When my wife, the President/CEO taught post-graduate Healthcare/Hospital Administration courses, she insisted that her students use proper grammar, and spell correctly. One semester, she failed two students, based primarily on the inability to write correctly. When called into review, she stated her position. The Dean of the English department was called in, and stated that he would never have let either student enroll in such a post-graduate class. Case was closed.

                                                            When my wife was but a young, Masters graduate, she had a CEO, who would correct every report, or paper, that she presented him with. That made an impression.

                                                            As for other CEO's [grin], I cannot speak for them. Anyone in mind there?


                                                            1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                              When Mrs G and I worked for the same home health company (she was VP of HR and I was a special projects coordinator) the pres. sent out a company-wide memo that all correspondence was to be run by either one of us first before sending. When I worked for a major bank, my immediate boss, an AVP, always asked me to write his memo's/letters for him.

                                                              1. re: mucho gordo

                                                                "...asked me to write his memo's/letters for him..."

                                                                You are a wicked man! : )

                                                                1. re: DockPotato

                                                                  Mea Culpa; I'm guilty of putting an apostrophe where one doesn't belong.

                                                                  1. re: mucho gordo

                                                                    Hee, hee. I thought you did that on purpose, gordo.

                                                                    1. re: mucho gordo

                                                                      Although it actually reads more right than without it, to me.

                                                          3. Well, an online review solely relies on the written word to make an impact. Therefore, if the grammar, spelling, etc. end up confusing the reader or obscuring the meaning then isn't that a bad thing?

                                                            5 Replies
                                                            1. re: PegS

                                                              Actually, an online review nowadays probably relies less on the written word than it has ever before to make an impact. Photos and sometimes videos are just as important, if not more so, than the written word, or words. In fact, I would say photos are more often than not more impactful than anything that's actually written.

                                                              The term "food porn" wasn't ginned up because of elegant prose.

                                                              1. re: ipsedixit

                                                                I am the fortunate owner of two degrees in English, so I will admit to some pain and suffering when reading certain reports and write-ups on line. I am much more forgiving of folks on CH (duh) and bloggers who are doing their posts for fun and not profit. I really have little patience for professional reviewers who can't at least put a sentence together, whether they are blogging or writing for a paper publication.

                                                                The worst thing, though, is when I catch an error in something I've posted. I have no mercy on myself when that happens!

                                                                1. re: grayelf

                                                                  <<I am the fortunate owner of two degrees in English>>

                                                                  Did the first one not take? [Grin]


                                                                2. re: ipsedixit

                                                                  What, you think that if the photo is pretty people will go to a restaurant even if the review says the food is terrible?

                                                                  I think the overall quality of the writing of a post (not a random misspelling or grammatical error -- although please, people, it's "palate" and "dessert"!) does affect my evaluation. It has to do with how much time and care someone is willing to put into expressing their opinions. Why should I give more respect to their opinions than they did when writing them?

                                                                  Same thing with people who post asking for suggestions. If they obviously haven't read the FAQ, or looked for related topics, or they just dashed off a short, generic post I won't reply, or if I do and they don't answer questions or make follow-up posts, I won't respond to them after my initial post. Why should I put more effort into *their* question than they did?

                                                              2. One of my favorite restaurants in the world is a little hole in the wall featuring a Hong Kong trained chef who speaks almost no English. His wife speaks some, and we pantomime, but ultimately I just trust him. Even going in with fluent Chinese speakers has been problematic.

                                                                I've also had American schooled chefs who sent me regular emails and tweets that were simply abominable. And again, their lack of fluency in their native language was not an issue.

                                                                So my real answer is maybe. I have enough of a western-centric outlook to probably favor someone who spoke and wrote "good" English. But at the same time I realize that it's a stupid outlook that harms both me and those who may have huge talent but poor language skills.

                                                                1. I happily confess to being very snobby about such things.

                                                                  The occasional error isnt a problem of course - not least as I'm prone to them myself (I proof read a post but still miss the error). I also hold in mind that a person may not have English as their first language. I'm also aware that American English often differs in spelling and word usage from other forms of English, so need to remind myself of that.

                                                                  But a post littered with poor spelling, grammar, etc isnt one that I'm likely to take as serious comment. I have the same attitude to txt spk.

                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                  1. Alright. Since you're lettin' me hit off the Lady's tee. I'm gonna take a swing. I warn you I'm usin' the big club and it's gonna sail.

                                                                    Now, I s'pose many of you know where on the fairway I'm gonna hit this one. It's gonna go far so, either look away, or pay attention.

                                                                    I spent a lot of time sittin' in desks, handin' in papers to earn three sheets of sheepskin. I was weaned on the prescriptivist tradition. I've published and edited.

                                                                    Now, I say this because, after three hours of surgery, the doctors were able to remove the stick. I came to realize that the Earth keeps spinnin. Things move. They have to. It's what makes it all work. That's what makes it all fun. Remember, in the end, everything is born to die, it's what happens in between that counts .

                                                                    "Those damn kids with their (take your choice) ragtime/rock&roll/rap music" Get it?

                                                                    This is a new medium and way of expression. It ain't a thesis. It ain't a draft you're submittin' to a publisher. It's a god damn conversation among food geeks.

                                                                    You guys wanna judge folks for grammar and spellin' when they offer their opinions on the bass they had last night? Get in the ring. They just took the robe offa me. I'll play. I'll even tell you ahead of the time, I'm leadin' with the right.

                                                                    Man, if you ain't never made a mistake, I'll kiss your ring. It must be nice. We were not all created the same. That makes things interestin'. I'm pretty certain, that, in my life, I've had more fun and met more characters than you still have time left to do. Nevertheless, I suggest you try and seek some adventure - it might help clean the glasses.

                                                                    At bottom, give me someone who can turn a phrase. Tell me the "burger was "visiting the Statue of Librty for the first time" good. I don't giva rat's ass about how they spell it. It's better than when some erudite shit says "I thought they made a great burger. I'd likely go back"

                                                                    Keep up.

                                                                    1. Having a math background, I prefer to judge others' food knowledge by their ability to do math. The point being both are irrelevant on a message board. Smart phones, aging eyes, faltering memory are problems I never thought I'd have when I was younger and my grammar much better. And I know so much more about food now. Written publication is a different story. It's like the difference between a formal speech and hanging out with friends. I'd hate to have some correct a transcript of my conversations.

                                                                      10 Replies
                                                                      1. re: chowser

                                                                        "I prefer to judge others' food knowledge by their ability to do math."

                                                                        Hell, that was "first tomato of the summer" good.

                                                                        1. re: MGZ

                                                                          I didn't know Guy Fieri was posting here now.

                                                                          1. re: MGZ

                                                                            Understood. I've found the fibonacci numbers of tomatoes are best. The rest are, yknow, kinda meh. The first tomato is always iinvoluntarily sacrificed to the squirrels. :-)

                                                                            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                              Yeah, but feels like another lifetime ago...

                                                                            2. re: chowser

                                                                              Perfect example of the need to be cautious about spelling.

                                                                              "math" - American English

                                                                              "maths" - British and Australian English (and possibly other parts of the English speaking Commonwealth)

                                                                              1. re: Harters

                                                                                I did some of my undergrad work in England. It was an adjustment going there and another coming back. Here, if I said "maths," people would think I didn't know good food!

                                                                                1. re: chowser

                                                                                  My niece and her family moved to America in connection with her father's work. She was 11 or 12 and would have been just starting secondary school in the UK. Obviously a difficult upheaval for a girl of that age - not aided by unthinking American teachers who just marked her school work down for "wrong spelling" without explanations or, possibly, without realisations that it was "correct" for her for the previous 11 or 12 years.

                                                                                  I'm not sure how her math or maths is now or, for that matter, her understanding of good food.

                                                                                  1. re: Harters

                                                                                    one of my best pals at uni had gone to boarding school in Scotland. She was a *brilliant* writer, but continually received poor marks in English (ironic, huh?) because she spelt everything with UK spellings.

                                                                                    Later, when I was working on my master's, I was usually put into a group with foreign students -- I usually was handed the task of doing the final editing on all of our written projects, so I could correct the spelling and grammar to US standards.

                                                                                    Then I started doing a lot of work with a couple of major UK companies, so I polished the UK spelling and grammar that I'd picked up whilst working on my degrees. (see what I did there? Americans never use whilst.)

                                                                                    Then I moved to France, and added a whole new set of spelling and grammar to the pot.

                                                                                    Now? Chances are that it's spelled/spelt correctly, and the grammar is correct, but it's anybody's guess if it matches the reader (or is consistent through the correspondence.)

                                                                              2. Okay -- call me a grammar/punctuation/spelling snob, but to me it matters. I make snap judgements about anyone who puts his or her writing out there for public display with errors in spelling, punctuation or grammar. I won't go into the shop in my neighborhood that has a sign out in front advertising their "pizza's." It's just NOT okay. I've heard all the arguments and excuses, and I don't buy them. I've said it before on these boards and elsewhere, and I still believe that it really does matter.

                                                                                14 Replies
                                                                                1. re: CindyJ

                                                                                  What if the "pizza's" were made by someone who was from Italy and the best you could get? Would you avoid great food over a typo?

                                                                                  1. re: chowser

                                                                                    I guess that might be my loss. I wouldn't know that those "pizza's" were the best I could get because I wouldn't have gone in to try them.

                                                                                    Would I avoid great food over a typo? I can't say for sure. My gut tells me that if I knew the "pizza's" were really that good, I might be tempted to go in, buy a pizza and tell someone about the error on their signage. Would I really do that? Not likely.

                                                                                    1. re: CindyJ

                                                                                      Thanks for an honest reply. I was thinking it would be interesting to start a thread on when CHers avoid good food, eg. over grammatical errors, ethics, location, cleanliness.

                                                                                      1. re: chowser

                                                                                        "I was thinking it would be interesting to start a thread on when CHers avoid good food, eg. over grammatical errors, ethics, location, cleanliness."

                                                                                        I'm in.

                                                                                        I could point out mistahes* the stick crowd make.

                                                                                        Some Alphas can fuckin' howl loud - really LOUD.

                                                                                        Read the Manifesto. Bark about Chow, not the way the other 'hounds talk about it. That's foul. These pups may not know as much about language as you, bur they most likely know food better than the bulk of the world. Listen to what they have to say. They know where the best garbage cans on the street are.

                                                                                        This thread comes off to me as reminiscent of what might be a local post on the NJ Board about the Broadway in Point Pleasant. S/he has one of the greatest fried flounder sandwiches that God ever permitted to be made. If that soul is lucky, they got a hard roll, a fish pulled from the sea about eight that morning, Swiss cheese, and extra tartar.

                                                                                        Man, the poster may be deeply OC. They'll explain it by sayin' "It was awesome and came with fries and melt vinegar for the fries and they were so good too and we had so much fun. That place rocked even though it was kinda dirty and they they kinda well they kinda were great and the draft beers were only two bucks. BTW .the waitress was so nice."

                                                                                        Now, I'll tell you, the flounder sandwich at the Broadway ranks with pizza at Lombardi's, crabs at Harris's, a cheesesteak at John's, or sittin' on a friend's oceanfront deck, drinkin' reposado and playin' guitar into the wind. You dismiss what s/he had to say, you miss one of the finest sandwiches at the Jersey Shore.

                                                                                        I told you all, the robe's off. Discountin' the Chow because you didn't like the way the 'hound wrote. Go to Applebee's, OK? Otherwise, just listen.

                                                                                        Hat's off, Chowser. Well put. As you are, no doubt aware, this was not directed at you. We're standin' on the same sideline.

                                                                                        *I did that on purpuse, please tell me someone got it?

                                                                                        1. re: MGZ

                                                                                          Were you not referring to that elegant Japanese delicacy? TFIC

                                                                                        2. re: chowser

                                                                                          I will admit to a serious bias against restaurant owners who can't spell Caesar. Really bugs me to the point where I don't want to eat there.

                                                                                          1. re: grayelf

                                                                                            Nobody has any excuse for not researching the business they are in.

                                                                                    2. re: CindyJ

                                                                                      I realize that the misspelling, "judgement", is so common as to have wormed its way into acceptance as an alternate form, but the original and proper spelling is "judgment".

                                                                                      1. re: greygarious

                                                                                        "Original" in what sense? The spellings "judgment" and "judgement" have both been around since the 16th century, but neither one is the "original" form, since the word has been in use in English since the 13th century. And before that, it was a French word, so wouldn't _that_ be the original spelling? Or should we go back to Latin?

                                                                                          1. re: DeppityDawg

                                                                                            The way it's spelled in three of my dictionaries, going back 50 yrs. The extra "e" variant is relatively new. I used it in error in a grade school spelling test, which is how I learned not to.

                                                                                            1. re: greygarious

                                                                                              I go back more than 50 years and I've never encountered that spelling, but then I'm in Canada.

                                                                                              Here is what the OED has to say, "In British English the normal spelling in general contexts is judgement. However, the spelling judgment is conventional in legal contexts, and in North American English."

                                                                                              Now, I'm thinking that the author of the above passage should have placed both "judgement" and "judgment" in quotation marks as I have.

                                                                                              1. re: greygarious

                                                                                                Both variants are much more than 50 years old. I also learned "judgment" in school, but now that I'm out of school, I don't see anything wrong with "judgement". After all, we don't write "judgd" or "judgship".

                                                                                                1. re: DeppityDawg

                                                                                                  Well, I learned something today. Glad I woke up. : )

                                                                                        1. I think it depends on where I'm reading the review. If it's a published review by a journalist -- e.g., Corby Kummer in Boston Magazine or The Atlantic, Jonathan Gold in the L.A. Times or elsewhere -- I want to read a clear, concise, well-written review.

                                                                                          And yes, spelling matters to me. Always has. It is a pet peeve of mine to see a spelling mistake on a restaurant's menu, especially when it is so often easy to correct.

                                                                                          As for a blogger, I would hope that should one have become mainstream popular to have won awards for their site, the blogger would be well-versed in writing and stylistic prose and be able to get their point across about a topic without excessive, flowery statements, misspelled words, and awkward phrasing. Bloggers don't have editors, as you would hope a newspaper's online review site has (although more and more, it seems editors and/or proofreaders aren't doing their job well either!). So bloggers are on their own, and it is much more enjoyable to read one that is well written - grammatically and otherwise.

                                                                                          On Yelp? While I rarely look there, I don't ever expect to see proper grammar there. But when I do, it's a pleasure to read. But if all I'm going to see is "It was totally awwsum!", I'm not going to read the site. I'll look for reviews of that restaurant elsewhere.

                                                                                          For the most part, I think those who inhabit CH are good writers, and I'm more likely to trust the majority of reviews here based on those well-written reviews. I've been here long enough to know which Hounds' reviews seem to most represent what I would personally like when it comes to the restaurant's food. So just as with any site, everything is taken with a grain of salt.

                                                                                          8 Replies
                                                                                          1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                            To an every increasing degree, professional writers such as newspaper reviewers don't have copy editors either. The layoffs in that industry have been devastating.

                                                                                            1. re: JonParker

                                                                                              Also, my saying "To an every increasing degree" shows the value of copy editors.

                                                                                              1. re: JonParker

                                                                                                LOL! My brain read it in the way you had intended, Jon. :-)

                                                                                                1. re: JonParker


                                                                                                  Oh gosh yes!

                                                                                                  Luckily, I sort of know many of my general typing/composition errors, and luckily pick up many, but never all, of those.

                                                                                                  I look at each "you," to see if I really meant "your," and too many more, to enumerate.


                                                                                              2. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                Well put, Linda. We may not be completely eye to eye on this, but we can still hold hands. I'd simply submit the notion that most everything in life is better taken with a grain of salt.

                                                                                                1. re: MGZ

                                                                                                  Can we skip while holding hands, MGZ? I like skipping. It makes people smile. :-)

                                                                                                  1. re: LindaWhit

                                                                                                    Clearly you've never seen me skip. Nobody smiling in seeing that.

                                                                                              3. Sorry to those who think otherwise, but in this day and age every computer and web browser has built in spell and grammar check. There is no excuse for a lack of either.

                                                                                                3 Replies
                                                                                                1. re: PotatoHouse

                                                                                                  A lot of us use tablets and smartphones, which means some mistakes are autocorrect issues. Some of us once in a while misplace an apostrophe even if we know the difference, or use the wrong form of "their." I'll fix it if I notice it, but sometimes I don't.

                                                                                                  I used to work as a journalist, and I can tell you it's difficult to notice your own mistakes.

                                                                                                  There are plenty of good reasons to make errors.

                                                                                                  1. re: JonParker

                                                                                                    I don't own a tablet but I have posted from my smartphone and can understand that but any mistakes in my SP posts are due to not taking time to proof read before hitting post.

                                                                                                    1. re: JonParker

                                                                                                      Ah yes, AutoCorrect.

                                                                                                      Why does mine never correct my errors, but then jumps up, and changes things that are correct?

                                                                                                      Such is life today.


                                                                                                  2. Perspective, please. I will argue forever that the ability to organize language and use it correctly IS an indicator of intelligence. That said, I really must point out that the situation is much worse on the political forums than it is on the food forums. Recent examples (I collect them) include "The death penalty is a detergent", "the country is heading for armed resurrection", "the president is a trader to his country", and this post in its entirety, "O educated in a Madras schol. learned rev theory from Sol Kolinsky and anti-Semotism from Luis Astrakhan [sic]". The political forums remind us that these people vote---on the food forums, we can set aside those worries and just focus on whether they can cook even if they can't spell. A proud argument for homeschooling that says "My mather was a 9th grad dropout and did tech me and my sister to read and right" strikes me as more ominous for our world than if someone misspells Chenin Blanc or bain-marie.

                                                                                                    14 Replies
                                                                                                    1. re: Querencia

                                                                                                      In the UK, whenever right wing politicans start up on a "things arent what they used to be" in our education system, they always call for schools to return to the basics of teaching the three "Rs".

                                                                                                      That's reading, writing and arithmetic. I kid you not.

                                                                                                      1. re: Harters

                                                                                                        Well since the saying "the three R's" has been around for about 150 years, I don't see the point of your post.

                                                                                                        1. re: PotatoHouse

                                                                                                          I'm not sure I understand the relevance of the time scale that the phrase has been in use. But thanks for your response.

                                                                                                          It has always been a nonsensical phrase and I've always found it amusing when it's used - not that I've been around since 1825, so there will be many years when it's been used where I havnt been amused. But I'm sure previous generations will have enjoyed the irony, much as Querencia clearly enjoys the irony of her/his similar education quote.

                                                                                                          1. re: Harters

                                                                                                            that one's been mainstream here for generations, Harters -- sounds like it's a new import on your side!

                                                                                                            1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                              Nope, not a new import. Been around as long as I can remember. Still never fails to have me shouting "FUCKWIT" at the TV, whenever a politician uses the phrase. It's one of those cheap, throwaway, meaningless phrases that folk like to use when they can't be arsed having proper conversation - the same folk are likely to dismiss any view to the political left of their own position as "politically correct",

                                                                                                      2. re: Querencia

                                                                                                        <Perspective, please. I will argue forever that the ability to organize language and use it correctly IS an indicator of intelligence.>

                                                                                                        I would say that it is an indication, but it is a moderate indicator, nor is it the only indicator.

                                                                                                        If you were to pick out the top 1000 most intelligent people and the least intelligent 1000 people from your city, then yes, the top 1000 most intelligent people will most likely speak and write better. However, this only proves there is a correlation. A weak or a strong one will show this.

                                                                                                        Hemingway is known to be a horrible speller.

                                                                                                        Let's try this analogy. The top 100 US basket ball players are going to be taller than the worst 100 US basket ball players. No question about this.

                                                                                                        However, if you over-extend the logic, and say "Jim in my HR office is 6'2" and Matt in marketing is 5'10". Jim must be a better basketball player than Matt.", then, you are very likely to be wrong. Given all else the same, a taller person does have an advantage. However, basketball is so much more than just height, and intelligence is so much more than just spelling and grammar.

                                                                                                            1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                                                                                                              The same principle doesn't apply in hockey. Great players come in every size.

                                                                                                        1. re: Querencia

                                                                                                          "I will argue forever that the ability to organize language and use it correctly IS an indicator of intelligence"

                                                                                                          It is an indicator of (conventional) education, not intelligence. There are many imaginable (and sadly, real) situations where a person of normal or superior intelligence can have their access to education limited or denied. Everyone on the Internet is not from your country and your social class. If I told you that the person who wrote "The president is a trader" was your next door neighbor, _maybe_ you could conclude that he/she is an uneducated idiot. But what if you found out that it was a girl in Afghanistan?

                                                                                                          "I am somehow less interested in the weight and convolutions of Einstein's brain than in the near certainty that people of equal talent have lived and died in cotton fields and sweatshops" (Stephen Jay Gould)

                                                                                                          1. re: DeppityDawg

                                                                                                            Dawg, sit down, I'll pour you a bowl of the finest kibbles, in my finest bowl. Eat 'til you get your fill. You earned it, for sure.

                                                                                                            1. re: DeppityDawg

                                                                                                              What Dawg says is true, and often by
                                                                                                              seeing the same mistakes repeated in a poster's entries you can tell if maybe this is a rule they never learned or have forgotten or if they are not writing in their native language. If the content is worthwhile, the post is of value.

                                                                                                              What annoys me is the poster who is obviously capable of
                                                                                                              producing a "proper" post but can't be bothered. To me,
                                                                                                              that indicates disdain for the reader - the attitude of "My
                                                                                                              opinion is so important that I don't have to play by the
                                                                                                              rules". I won't disregard such a post but will certainly take
                                                                                                              it with the aforementioned "grain of salt".

                                                                                                              1. re: ferventfoodie

                                                                                                                What exactly is a "'proper' post", Beta? Who decides that? Read the stuff up here in other peoples voices. That's the point. Don't bring your hang ups to the table - it makes everything taste bitter.

                                                                                                                This Site is more HBO than NPR.

                                                                                                              2. re: DeppityDawg

                                                                                                                Too true, DeppityDawg. One of the most intelligent people I know is also profoundly dyslexic.

                                                                                                            2. As long as I can understand the post, the grammatical and spelling errors do not mean a lot to me. I am more annoyed by nonfactual statements.

                                                                                                              1. Do you also judge your doctor by the quality of his handwriting?

                                                                                                                The advise and review's are worth what you pay for them right?

                                                                                                                I am a bit dyslexic (a bit more than most) I spend too much time with spell check at work to make a huge effort when I post or read on chow.

                                                                                                                Funny, in the internet age the quality of ones grammar seems far more important than character or the actual ideas that are behind the bad grammar and misspelling... surreal to me.

                                                                                                                Hey I hear the Mattress police are hiring....


                                                                                                                6 Replies
                                                                                                                1. re: sparky403

                                                                                                                  Exactly. Only thing you left out, sparky, woulda been:

                                                                                                                  "Do you tell Clapton he was flat on the A Sharp?"

                                                                                                                  1. re: sparky403

                                                                                                                    Except a professional restaurant reviewer writes for a living, whereas a doctor doesn't.

                                                                                                                      1. re: sparky403

                                                                                                                        heh -- I used to work with a marketing guy who could barely spell his own name. Not stupid...just a horrid speller.

                                                                                                                        The VP of sales blew his top one day after yet another label had made it to print with asinine misspellings. "Your computer has a spellchecker on it -- there's no excuse for this bullshit!"

                                                                                                                        "Oh, that thing? It's a pain in the ass -- it pops up all the time, so I turned it off."

                                                                                                                        Absolute dead silence in the meeting for several uncomfortable minute.

                                                                                                                        1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                          Perhaps I mis-undstood the context - in your situation, the VP of marketing should be flawless... that's what he's paid for.

                                                                                                                          In my professional life I will often spend an hour or more through out the day responding to an simple e-mail.... On chow not so much.

                                                                                                                          I realize the English police look down on me for this and perhaps discount my ideas - too bad for them.

                                                                                                                          I just think people get a little (and when I say a little - I actually mean a lot:-) too anal about proper English...If they're glaring and repeated errors than it's understandable (and just sloppiness).

                                                                                                                          At the end of the day, I am willing to look past most grammatical and spelling errors to see if there's a real idea there.. Wheas many will throw the baby out with the bathwater if there are simple spelling or syntax errors...

                                                                                                                          In the case of your VP - he should be fired - it's a completely different context / situation.

                                                                                                                          1. re: sparky403

                                                                                                                            yeeeahhhh....Owner's second son. That ain't gonna happen.

                                                                                                                            It was the blatant disregard for proper spelling and the bl**dy spell checker that created the crickets at the meeting.

                                                                                                                      2. For a user review, I would take the general level of articulation and detail more seriously than the actual spelling - your vs you're is less of an issue than a review that simply says "You're going to love it" without giving any more details.

                                                                                                                        Text-speech and lack of capitals and punctuation, on the other hand, drives me up the wall in general, and I probably won't even read the review.

                                                                                                                        Professional reviews, I have higher standards.

                                                                                                                        Of course, I'm very used to reading stuff written by non native English speakers. 3/4 of the time, if I get an English *menu* it's badly spelled and translated. I also end up using Google translate a lot for web-sites and reviews, when there isn't much English information. Compared to a google Chinese -> English or Japanese -> English translation, poor grammar and spelling is minor.

                                                                                                                        As an aside, I was using Google translate while preparing for a trip to Germany, and was amazed at how good the translations were compared to languages I usually deal with.

                                                                                                                        I do, generally, have fairly high standards when it comes to forums and internet communication in general. I only read/participate in forums that pass a certain basic level in writing style and content.

                                                                                                                        1. What a great question and thread!

                                                                                                                          This is one of those "elephant in the room" issues that are pervasive in online reading and writing.

                                                                                                                          When I post here, I try to keep it conversational. I imagine that I am actually hanging out with a bunch of people who are magically conversing about something like the care of their cast iron skillets, right when I am. I usually do a quick check for any sloppy errors, and that's it.

                                                                                                                          In terms of reading, I cut a lot of slack as well. I try to read posts here in a conversational way. It seems like this is the norm here - plenty of great information, humor, and entertaining writing. Way better than so much of what is informally discussed online in other places.

                                                                                                                          1. Minor mistakes in spelling or grammar are annoying, but they don't change the essence of what's being communicated. I know I make them.

                                                                                                                            However, there are rules to languages (and to games like golf). All of them. If someone decides that the rules do not bind the individual, then you have Babel. Spelling mistakes or errors in grammar can be overlooked because they can be recognized as such and the reader can figure out what the writer was trying to say. If you decide the rules are arbitrary (which all rules pretty much are) and therefore useless, then good luck with you. We will all live in a society of one without the ability to communicate with another.

                                                                                                                            If something deviates so much from the rules than you won't recognize it and know what it means. Need the rules to know what is being broken. Doesn't mean that rules can't be changed (see rule on anchoring putters).

                                                                                                                            Off the soap box now.

                                                                                                                            As an aside, I've spent a large portion of my career working and living with "english" speaking folk from England, Scotland, Ireland, New Zealand, Australia and even America. Makes you realize that all the threads about proper spelling and pronunciation are pretty silly. It all depends on where you are.

                                                                                                                            1. My paternal grandparents never learned correct English. If they told me Hell had good food, I would call 1-666-LUCIFER and request a reservation. I consider the source, and then decide (for good or ill).

                                                                                                                              PS I teach English for a living. I like to think I'm always learning it, though, and try to reach for the red pen only in classroom situations, or if I'm asked to do so.

                                                                                                                              1. Well, childish usages (yummy, delish, et cet.) do make me hit the ignore button fast. Even when said by the Dowager Countess of Grantham with a fresh pot of jam.

                                                                                                                                1. Keep in mind that the vice of _pointing out_ other writers' language gaffes on public Internet exchanges was already in 1980s "netiquette" summaries as uncool; the famous RFC1855 later codified those recommendations, and IIRC it cited such behavior as marking the "immature beginner."

                                                                                                                                  All that said, how we express is always USEFUL to others for cues to our sensibilities. (& the more you know about that, the more incentive to get your own act together!)

                                                                                                                                  I find it not so much distracting as USEFUL therefore (for instance), when pretentious amateur restaurant critics affect mannerisms of professional ones. This includes some distinctive modern habits, like the de-transitivized verb ("It didn't dissapoint"), hip only for a few years now, but high on any check-off list of lightweight restaurant-writer cues. Or the recent fad for using "cusp" whenever mentioning the verge of something, but revealing no appreciation for what a cusp actually is. The more amateurish writers (again, not limited to literal nonprofessionals) also toss off restaurant-trade terms, as if to show inside knowledge -- but they use them wrong, which makes restaurant professionals roll their eyes, and offers a useful telltale for the rest of us who pay attention. (I'd cite real examples, but that might eventually render them less Useful! :-)

                                                                                                                                  5 Replies
                                                                                                                                  1. re: eatzalot

                                                                                                                                    You actually touch on something that *does* drive me insane, which is the use of meaningless cliches. I tend to File 13 any review (or menu) that uses "cooked to perfection" or "kick it up a notch."

                                                                                                                                    Poor English is totally forgivable, lazy English never is.

                                                                                                                                    1. re: JonParker

                                                                                                                                      "Sexy" food. I'm still trying to figure out what that means.

                                                                                                                                      1. re: linguafood

                                                                                                                                        there's a little Italian hole-in-the-wall in Koeln that served me homemade canneloni with a crabmeat stuffing in a white-wine and black truffle cream sauce.

                                                                                                                                        THAT was sexy. Meg Ryan in the restaurant sexy.

                                                                                                                                        1. re: chowser

                                                                                                                                          Smiling in total agreement. Any food can be sexy, if the right person is holding it. Is Laurence Fishburne or Liam Neeson holding a bowl of oatmeal? Then it's sexy...well, to me, anyway. Don't know if anyone has seen the Cumberland farms iced coffee ads played tongue-in-cheek by David Hasselhoff, but they crack me up.

                                                                                                                                          1. re: chowser

                                                                                                                                            That's easy. DH cooking dinner and me sitting on the couch. Without the barrage of questions...how do I turn on the oven? Where do you keep the spatulas? What knife should I use?

                                                                                                                                      2. As long as it doesn't change the meaning, it doesn't fry my bacon.

                                                                                                                                        1. I have to admit that some of the misspellings in this thread (http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/908192) make me wonder about the usefulness of some posters' opinions...

                                                                                                                                          1 Reply
                                                                                                                                          1. re: ricepad

                                                                                                                                            Now that I think of it, I do remember learning in biology that taste is shared on the same chromosome as spelling. Maybe it's an extra X chromosome thing passed on through the mothers? I can't remember, though, whether it's the same one shared by baldness. If that were the case,the best foodies would be easily identified.

                                                                                                                                          2. I find it hard to take anybody seriously who doesn't make an effort to use proper spelling and grammar.
                                                                                                                                            Also, I don't trust anyone who says Sammie or other cute words. Not sure why, I just don't.

                                                                                                                                            2 Replies
                                                                                                                                            1. re: virtualguthrie

                                                                                                                                              Cute words - a real problem, and covered in some detail, in other CH threads.

                                                                                                                                              I dislike such, and have said the same, in many of those other thread.

                                                                                                                                              OTOH, many seem to gravitate to them, like moths to a porch light.


                                                                                                                                              1. re: Bill Hunt

                                                                                                                                                Agreed. Or unnecessary abbreviations, e.g. guac. Does it take that much energy to say guacamole?

                                                                                                                                            2. The day someone proves there is a correlation between grammar/spelling and the ability to know good food I will begin to care. I hope that day never comes since my grammar is shaky at best. Until then, I will only care about what was written, not how it was written.

                                                                                                                                              1. I am not speaking for everyone but I feel like people my age (under 30) barely use computers where it is easy to type and spell check. I mostly use my iPhone or iPad which creates a lot of typos and spelling errors.

                                                                                                                                                It's also a blog and I don't take it too seriously how I post it's not an appellate brief - I try to have fun when I post on sites like this not be neurotic about my typing

                                                                                                                                                Whenever I correct my husband about his grammar, etc he just looks at me and says how many languages do you speak? English is his 3rd language doesn't mean he shouldn't be taken seriously.

                                                                                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                                                                                1. re: Siegal

                                                                                                                                                  Once again, I can't speak to a pad as I do not own one, but my smartphone highlights words that are not in its dictionary. As I have stated before, any typos in a post from my phone is due to not proofreading before posting and completely my fault even if spellchecker or voice recognition makes an error.

                                                                                                                                                  1. re: PotatoHouse

                                                                                                                                                    Yes, it's always the writer's choice how much care to put into what that writer posts publicly, and it reflects on the writer.

                                                                                                                                                    Also, automated tools can only do so much for people who don't distinguish they're / there / their, let alone infer / imply. And the tools themselves have problems. My old office Microsoft spell-check dictionary didn't know the word "Alsatian" (it wanted to substitute "Alaskan"), nor "fatuous" (offering instead "fatties"). Two of several examples I saved at the time. Gaffes like those encourage real speculation about the cultural milieu of firms that would prepare such a dictionary, and sell it for widespread public use...

                                                                                                                                                2. Grammar, spelling, usage and style affect my reading of an online review. If these are poor, I do not immediately assume that the person writing it has no knowledge of food, but I do begin to suspect that the entry will be of limited use if it is unclear and a chore to get through. Grammar and spelling are key elements in clear communication of an idea, and the onus is with the writer, not the reader. Sure, I may miss out if I give up on a poorly written post, but more likely than not, I am not missing out. Bad writing is bad manners and smacks of egotism (the writer thinks not of his or her audience, but only of his or himself).

                                                                                                                                                  Typos and the occasional homonym gaffe are not the problem here. Nor are the misplaced commas (although apostrophe abuse is offensive because it requires an effort to make that error). But regular misuse and writing that inhibits expression and understanding are not appreciated in a forum that is almost entirely text based.

                                                                                                                                                  Although people here claim that these criteria unfairly target ESL folks, I disagree (as do others on this thread). More often than not, the ESL folks demonstrate a greater grasp of the language and grammatical rules-- particularly when they opt to participate. The most egregious errors and incoherent posts have come from the EFL hounds. It is highly unlikely that an ESL hound types 'could of' in the place of 'could have' unless the language has been acquired through conversation alone.

                                                                                                                                                  But while poor writing and poor usage affects my approach to a review and my impression of a hound, it does not indicate that the person is a 'poor taster'-- at least not for me. However, those with the ridiculously florid prose do suggest someone with something to hide and that something is most likely a limited viewpoint that s/he hopes to mask with excessive and unnecessary verbiage. (And shut up. I know I suffer from wordiness although I avoid the florid crap.)

                                                                                                                                                  32 Replies
                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Lizard

                                                                                                                                                    ESL - English as a Second Language
                                                                                                                                                    EFL - English as a Foreign Language.

                                                                                                                                                    Same animal at the end of the day.

                                                                                                                                                    English teachers use "mother tongue" or "native speaker" to refer to those who speak English as their *F*irst language.

                                                                                                                                                    1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                                      Sorry, I was using it as English as a First language, which is incorrect. Thanks for clearing it up for me.

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: Lizard

                                                                                                                                                        yep -- I figured that from your post -- no worries.

                                                                                                                                                    2. re: Lizard

                                                                                                                                                      People who learn English formally have a different understanding of it than native speakers and I agree often have better grammar than native speakers. That, however, means having money and education. Most ESL speakers I know did not formally learn the language. They move to an English speaking country and do what they can. English is a confusing enough language if you have the means to study it formally. Spelling? My son and I were discussing that there might be more that are exceptions than the rule. And, past tense? In romance languages, it's easier. In Chinese, non-existent (just add "already"). In English? Try it. See how many follow the rule and don't.

                                                                                                                                                      Even in speaking, it can be difficult to understand what others say, especially if they have heavy accents. It might take more time but there is much to learn if you take the time. The bottom line at CH is, "How much work are you willing to put in to find good food?"

                                                                                                                                                      1. re: chowser

                                                                                                                                                        I think you might be surprised by the number of people who speak English as second, third or even fourth language that learned it formally as part of their basic education. Did not have money and didn't live in an English speaking country, but did have an education. Many of my colleagues who are from Europe speak perfect, if accented English. They learned English from a very early age starting in primary school and continuing through university. I know many more Europeans who are fluent in English than Americans who are fluent in other languages. Some of them spoke with a preciseness that you would almost never encounter from a native speaker. I recall one Spaniard in particular. Whenever you greeted him and asked how he was, he would reply "Very well, thank you." Always well, never good. Adverb vs adjective.

                                                                                                                                                        By the way, I prefer the LFL. ;)

                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Bkeats

                                                                                                                                                          it wouldn't surprise me because I know quite a few. I think it's also an age thing. Younger people do learn English in school. But, we have many in this country even who haven't. And, for anyone who has studied another language formally, it is difficult to keep the rules straight. I was considered proficient in French, in high school, but would hate to have my food knowledge judged by my French ability. As an adult, learning another language perfectly is far more challenging than many here seem to feel.

                                                                                                                                                          1. re: chowser

                                                                                                                                                            "As an adult, learning another language perfectly is far more challenging than many here seem to feel."


                                                                                                                                                            And next to impossible after a teenager runs a stop sign and decimates your car, scrambling your brain in the process.

                                                                                                                                                            That experience took me from learning/remembering easily to barely earning a C in a university first semester Italian class.

                                                                                                                                                            Age and experience can be a b*tch.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: sandylc

                                                                                                                                                              damn, Sandy -- I had no idea.

                                                                                                                                                              Glad you've been able to claw your way back to your well-written self.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                                                So glad that you think so! I still feel like a shadow of my former self....I like to think that I'm at least nicer now.

                                                                                                                                                              2. re: sandylc

                                                                                                                                                                My spelling and grammar used to be excellent but as I've gotten older, it's all starting to escape me. I have to write, rewrite words and often get them wrong (thank god for google). I blame it in part on aging eyes and not being able to see as well but there is definitely a memory aspect to it, too. And, often in the middle of writing, I'll forget the word I want to use, even though I had it a second earlier. So, I can't imagine having to deal w/ aging and post accident trauma. FWIW, I've never noticed anything questionnable/not understandable in your posts so I think you're doing fine!

                                                                                                                                                            2. re: Bkeats

                                                                                                                                                              the calibre of English-language instruction in Europe varies widely from country to country.

                                                                                                                                                              1. re: sunshine842

                                                                                                                                                                True, but the caliber of English language instruction I'm familiar with in non-english speaking countries is much better than the quality of foreign language teaching in your typical US school.

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Bkeats

                                                                                                                                                                  again -- varies wildly depending on country.

                                                                                                                                                                  I taught English in a European high school, and have seen the "English" taught in my kiddo's schools by people paid to teach English (same goes for other foreign languages taught in schools). I've seen first hand that you absolutely shouldn't assume anything about schools in other countries, particularly the wild-eyed gasping about how horrible US education is.

                                                                                                                                                                  It ain't (sic) pretty, sometimes, but we're not really a shining bad example, either.

                                                                                                                                                          2. re: Lizard

                                                                                                                                                            I thought it was interesting that you forgive a misplaced comma but not an apostrophe. I can ignore a misplaced apostrophe any day -- which is a good thing, since it's a hugely common error.

                                                                                                                                                            But commas are like speed bumps, meant to be tiny pauses separating clauses of a sentence. Improper use, especially in excess, forces my brain to stop a second and try to change direction. Reading text written by someone who has no clue how to use them is almost painful.

                                                                                                                                                            1. re: JonParker

                                                                                                                                                              Shoud there not be a comma after "someone" and after "them" in your final sentence?

                                                                                                                                                                1. re: ricepad

                                                                                                                                                                  It depends on if we learn by instruction or example.

                                                                                                                                                                2. re: Harters

                                                                                                                                                                  No. That would make the phrase "who has no clue how to use them" unrestrictive. In other words, he is restricting "Reading text written by someone ... is almost painful." only to someone "who has no clue how to use them"!

                                                                                                                                                                  I'll note, however, that comma usage is somewhat different (sloppier, IMHO) in the UK.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                                                                                                    Grief. I never realised there were transatlantic differences in punctuation as well as spelling and word usage. However, as an Englishman, living in England, where English was invented, I claim accuracy of comma usage over any foreign interpretation of sloppiness.

                                                                                                                                                                3. re: JonParker

                                                                                                                                                                  Good point. I should have indicated that I was still speaking about the occasional error. A complete disregard for their use makes things very difficult to read, indeed! Although an apostrophe does not disrupt readability, it suggests an effort went into making the error.

                                                                                                                                                                  The thing I cannot abide? 'Between you and I'.

                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Lizard

                                                                                                                                                                    The "I" and "me" is confused 99% of the time. That said, the correct usage of "I" often sounds idiotic & pretentious.

                                                                                                                                                                    It's anyone's choice if they'd rather be right or blend in :-D

                                                                                                                                                                    1. re: linguafood

                                                                                                                                                                      I don't think the correct usage of 'I' sounds at all idiotic or pretentious. Certainly not when it is the subject of the sentence.

                                                                                                                                                                      1. re: linguafood

                                                                                                                                                                        Or, as Winston Churchill said:

                                                                                                                                                                        "Ending a sentence with a preposition is something up with which I will not put."

                                                                                                                                                                        It reminds me of that old joke an English teacher told us about a guy from the Deep South at Harvard. He asked someone, "Excuse me, do you know where the library is at?" The person snobbily responded, "I'm sorry but here at Harvard, we do NOT end our sentences with prepositions." "Oh, sorry...do you know where the library is at, ASSHOLE?"

                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: linguafood

                                                                                                                                                                          'Poor I' isn't necessarily correct, especially as this phrase tends to indicate an object. 'Like I' does sound bad, though, I'll give you that.

                                                                                                                                                                          I use the formulation 'than I' or 'than she'. It doesn't sound awkward to me. Nor does the correct use of the subjunctive. But while I might mentally edit those errors, I do not respond as poorly to those as I do other errors. I do, however, respond poorly to instructions that I must 'dumb down' my speech-- probably like hounds bristle at the idea of 'dumbing down' their palates.

                                                                                                                                                                          I find it deeply depressing that there is an expectation that one must accommodate the comfort level of the ignorant. (I would quote from 'Idiocracy' here, but the language isn't really suitable for the forum/) That said, quoting from Venture Brothers means you win. At least a little. (Although let's face it, the henchmen are made for exactly those conversations. Are we also going to consult them about who would win in a fight, Anne Frank or Helen Keller?)

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: Lizard

                                                                                                                                                                            The problem with "I" and "me" is that children when learning to speak English tend to use "me" incorrectly, i.e. "Me and Mom went to the store." People correct that and kids are given the impression that saying "me" is wrong, and therefore begin to use "I" instead.

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: DeppityDawg

                                                                                                                                                                                Yes, either "I and Mom went to the store" and "Mom and I went to the store" are grammatically correct. However, custom/convention dictates that "I" goes last.

                                                                                                                                                                                1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                                                                                                                  as opposed to "I carried Momma to the Piggly Wiggly and put her peanuts in a poke"

                                                                                                                                                                                  Which is absolutely correct in Southern.

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                                                                                                                    There must be more than just convention and politeness at work here, because "come with me and Mom" is just as impolite, but it sounds a lot better than "I and Mom went", which I can't imagine anyone ever saying.

                                                                                                                                                                                2. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                                                                                                                  lingua, Ruth, Dawg, Sandy, and Linda: Thank you for letten' me listen in on this conversation. The beer may have been a bit warm, but the words worked some precious magic.

                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: MGZ

                                                                                                                                                                                    They serve warm beer in Europe some times. You get used to it. ;-)

                                                                                                                                                                      2. I am pretty picky about grammar and language usage. I do have to say that all of the online reviews need to be taken with a grain of salt. I saw a review of a local Chinese restaurant, the writer was incensed because every time she would order Chow Mein she'd get fried noodles. She was quite adamant that Chow Mein did not use fried noodles. Poor dear had to have the dish confused with Lo Mein.

                                                                                                                                                                        3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                        1. re: Candy

                                                                                                                                                                          Exactly, Candy. Problems of form can vanish in importance compared to problems of content.

                                                                                                                                                                          I was just telling friends about a small successful Chinese restaurant in my neighborhood with chef and specialties from an unusual part of China.

                                                                                                                                                                          Yet, on one very popular restaurant "rating" site, which gives conspicuous attention to Asian restaurants in my region, I found that of 200 "reviews," just one bothered to notice its kitchen's unusual strengths and specialties. Most people were judging the whole restaurant on its obligatory generic/Americanized fare that all local Chinese restaurants offer (for reasons this situation confirms). Or, lambasting the place and vowing never again to return, because of some missing spoon in one take-out order.

                                                                                                                                                                          We are not at the level here of quibbling about polished prose.

                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: eatzalot

                                                                                                                                                                            I do draw the line at "refridgerator"

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: Candy

                                                                                                                                                                              My southern mom calls a garage a "grodge".

                                                                                                                                                                        2. There has been a lot of good points raised here.

                                                                                                                                                                          Let's consider the original question, "How much do grammar, spelling and usage affect how seriously you take an online review?

                                                                                                                                                                          Without a basic knowledge of grammatical rules, how can a reader correctly interpret a well written review?

                                                                                                                                                                          3 Replies
                                                                                                                                                                          1. re: DockPotato

                                                                                                                                                                            If a person cannot read a language, then there are challenges to be sure. But let's not suggest that this means a free-for-all (in which the rules are pretty much known only to the writer) is a boon for communication.

                                                                                                                                                                            1. re: DockPotato

                                                                                                                                                                              If they cannot read a language but they can learn it if they want.

                                                                                                                                                                              1. re: DockPotato

                                                                                                                                                                                The same way people understand e.e. cummings? The question is what "basic" knowledge is. There are those who've argued that a misplaced apostrophe or comma render a review useless. I've understood your post perfectly, despite some grammatical errors. Similarly, there are posts with no grammatical error that just don't make logical sense. The latter is more of a problem for me than missing a quotation mark.

                                                                                                                                                                                As others have said, a published paper is different from a formal online review which is different from message boards. The first is like a formal speech; the last is like chatting with friends. There are people who only speak formally with others. I'd find that stifling.

                                                                                                                                                                                1. Mucho Gordo might appreciate this experience:

                                                                                                                                                                                  In silicon valley we had for several years an unusually thorough, helpful print restaurant critic, an experienced journalist.

                                                                                                                                                                                  Informed that someone, possibly him, was seen eating and then asking questions of management (as if fact-checking) at a hip little restaurant, he replied by email "I'm more discrete than that."

                                                                                                                                                                                  Asked then if this was a deliberate wordplay on "discreet" -- just as Rex Stout once wrote (his fictional detective Nero Wolfe telling a client that Wolfe and his assistant were "indiscrete," as in not for separate hire, then having fun with the client's mistaking that spoken word) -- our critic avowed that it was an error. But a worthwhile one, for having led to his comparison to Rex Stout, one of his favorite authors.

                                                                                                                                                                                  1 Reply
                                                                                                                                                                                  1. re: eatzalot

                                                                                                                                                                                    Interesting. I'm being honest when I say I probably wouldn't have caught the error. If I had, I would have thought it a typo, rather than deliberate, because the meaning of discrete doesn't fit the circumstances. BTW, I'm also a fan of Nero and others of that genre.