Its a mystery to me

Cidu Bill on Sep 25th 2017


Filed in Bill Bickel, CIDU, Reality Check, comic strips, comics, humor | 46 responses so far

46 Responses to “Its a mystery to me”

  1. James Pollock Sep 25th 2017 at 12:23 am 1

    People who text, especially young people, are notorious for poor spelling and grammar when they do it.

    Kid #2 is passing the word… that kind of sloppiness in texting is now out of style.

    (and the squirrel is disappointed by this development, because it’s also too lazy to learn grammar and spelling.)

  2. James Schend Sep 25th 2017 at 12:25 am 2

    I think this comic sums up to: kids these days! What with their cellphones and their text messages and their…

  3. Cidu Bill Sep 25th 2017 at 12:42 am 3

    IS IT “back in style”? Because if it’s not, even “kids these days!” doesn’t make it a joke.

  4. Winter Wallaby Sep 25th 2017 at 01:11 am 4

    I’ll admit to being pretty unfamiliar with teen culture, but this cartoon seems unrealistic in that it shows the teen texting with fairly detailed, punctuated, complete sentences. Yes, there are a lot of grammatical mistakes, but also quite a lot of characters in that text. I welcome corrections from those more hip to what the young’uns are doing nowadays.

  5. Kilby Sep 25th 2017 at 01:12 am 5

    I’m not about to accept any sort of judgement about the actual state of current affairs (cultural, political, or whatever) from a cartoon that harbors rodent pests.

  6. Stan Sep 25th 2017 at 01:59 am 6

    I’m also way to out of texting culture to know or really care about whether proper grammar is back in style or not, but I’ll admit I’m somewhat curious to hear from those in the know.

    However, I’m slightly more interested in what the guy on the left is texting about, if anyone has suggestions. What 75 dollar object could get lost that would get you banned from anywhere?

  7. fleabane Sep 25th 2017 at 02:38 am 7

    It seems to me adults in their 20s, 30s, and 60s are just as guilty at the lazy ignorant messaging (Their/there; sentence fragments, etc.) that pisses us off so much, so as a “kids these days” seems rather unfair. I have heard it said, however, that whereas the adults who do this are simply stupid, the kids who do this can’t see the difference between the syntax of a text message and properly written memorandum. But I don’t know that I believe that and I tend to believe that is just another unfair “hah, kids think differently”.

    Anyhow…. the joke here is the surreal idea that bad grammar was actually a conscientious affectation “kids these days” did for affect and that they had always been capable of correct grammar and usage after all.

    The squirrel makes no sense at all, unless he thinks bad grammar/shortcuts was a *good* thing.

  8. fleabane Sep 25th 2017 at 02:49 am 8

    I’m sorry. Reality Check doing *three* “These darn kids and their cell phones” in as many days is just too much.

    And it needs to be said…. “These darn kids” just are *not* major offenders.

  9. James Pollock Sep 25th 2017 at 03:27 am 9

    kids adopt new technology into their lives faster. So, while people in their 60s may be just as lazy in their writing (not sure this is true, but going with it) but there are a lot more teens texting badly-composed messages than sixty-somethings, and they’re doing it a LOT more often.

    As usual, descriptivist language use is more useful that prescriptivist… if the person the message is being sent to understood what the message was saying, then it was successful, and there’s a perfectly good argument to be had over whether fully-spelling-out words and using proper, formal grammar is needed in that context. We don’t always speak in full, proper, grammatical sentences, and the older the generation, the more they consider the written word as more deserving of such. Younger people grew up with technology that made it easy to compose written text, almost like talking. (There’s a rather substantial majority that would rather text than talk.)

  10. Olivier Sep 25th 2017 at 04:41 am 10

    “What 75 dollar object could get lost that would get you banned from anywhere?”
    A grammar book from the library ?

  11. Carl Sep 25th 2017 at 06:15 am 11

    How is Stage Right kid even aware of what Stage Left kid is typing? Aside from being too far away to read that screen, he apparently had his back turned until after he noticed the grammar?

    Was Right texting Left, who is literally within arm’s reach? Is he mute or something?

    In my experience, cutesy abbreviations (”C U later”) and sloppy typing are more characteristic of 1990s email than 201x texting.

  12. Carl Sep 25th 2017 at 06:16 am 12

    I reversed right and left there, yes? I plead “worked until 1:00 am, and it is now 6:00 am.”

  13. James Pollock Sep 25th 2017 at 08:27 am 13

    “sloppy typing are more characteristic of 1990s email than 201x texting.”

    This varies widely depending on whom one is texting and/or emailing. (There are other contexts, as well. BBS posting and Internet instant messaging are in the mix, as well. But there’s definitely a generational component.

  14. Greybeard Sep 25th 2017 at 10:24 am 14

    @carl: quite possible they are texting each other. That’s what they do. And I used to think it was weird that my wife and I would IM between the basement and the upper floor!

  15. Brent Sep 25th 2017 at 10:24 am 15

    Yeah, it tends to be fine if the message is understood. Except, everyday I run into things that make me wonder if I’m fluent in English at all anymore. I’ve only been up for a short whole and I’ve already hit my first of the day, “six hours through car”. Yes, I got it, but the way people are randomly swapping prepositions now still derails my chain of thought every time I hit something like that. At least I got that one quickly (even if it shifted my brain without using the clutch)… it took me an embarrassingly long time before I figured out why people were talking about the ancient Sumerian city of Ur. And there are still posts I’ve never been sure I properly understood, fortunately they never seem to matter… but it bugs me.

  16. Keera Sep 25th 2017 at 10:40 am 16

    I actually did come across an article talking about how kids are now using grammar usage as a guide to what kind of person they’re communicating with. Or something. I wish I could find the article.

  17. Keera Sep 25th 2017 at 10:44 am 17

    It was “or something”. It’s about grammar becoming a deciding factor in dating apps, like Tinder.

  18. John Small Berries Sep 25th 2017 at 11:07 am 18

    I guess it’s kind of similar to Phil Selby’s classic cartoon, but I think Selby’s was funnier due to the double incongruity.

  19. Wendy Sep 25th 2017 at 11:34 am 19

    I imagine that one simple reason that texting has less spelling issues and fewer C U L8R type abbreviations is because of the predictive text feature that most phones have these days. When I use my husband’s phone, texting is easy, just a few letters typed, and the word I want usually appears at the top. Touch that and go on to the next word. It’s very easy to text on his phone.

    However, my phone is a “dumb” phone. It is better than the old flip phone I had, since it has a touch screen and a digital keyboard , but it doesn’t do the predictive texting, and it has limits on how many characters per text (160) and it charges per text because it is a prepaid system. So while I tend to use proper grammar and punctuation for short texts, I will purposely shorten or abbreviate things to make a longer text fit in that 160 limit.

    Now that doesn’t excuse choosing the wrong “there” and other poor grammar choices. Those are all on the user. No idea if the “kids these days” are using proper grammar or not, though the messaging my daughter uses seems to be mostly in complete sentences, and she and her friends are smart enough to rag on each other if they use misspellings.

  20. furrykef Sep 25th 2017 at 12:09 pm 20

    This comic seems relevant. I always link it whenever somebody has the attitude that distinguishing the two is unimportant.

  21. Jeff Lichtman Sep 25th 2017 at 02:14 pm 21

    Does it bother anyone but me that most of the mistakes in the kid’s texts are not grammatical errors? They’re spelling errors. “Your” for “you’re,” “loose” for “lose,” and “there” for “they’re” are not what I’d call grammatical mistakes. A grammatical error is something like, “I seen it,” or “Him and me went to the store.”

  22. Winter Wallaby Sep 25th 2017 at 03:25 pm 22

    Jeff #21: That bothers me a little too. But I feel like 75% of the complaints about “grammar” that I see are actually about spelling or punctuation.

  23. Wendy Sep 25th 2017 at 03:29 pm 23

    The argument can go both ways about whether the wrong “your” is a grammar problem or a spelling problem. If the writer thought carefully about the grammar, the correct word choice should be obvious (at least to me, and I’m a math person). But whichever way you class those mistakes, my post meant that you won’t see “thier” thanks to the predictive text feature, but that feature doesn’t help you choose the correct “there/their/they’re” to use.

  24. Mark M Sep 25th 2017 at 03:47 pm 24

    @20 - That comic you linked to is pretty good, but it seems odd that someone so turned off by the wrong use of “your” seemingly has no gripe about using “bad” instead of “badly” in the previous panel.

  25. Winter Wallaby Sep 25th 2017 at 04:15 pm 25

    Wendy #23: Can you clarify how it could be a grammar problem? Clearly the guy knows that in verbal speech he needs to make a “ure” sound at the start of the sentence, to that the person he’s talking with should be identified with the description that follows (”a jerk”). To my understanding, that means he has the grammar correct.

    He’s made a mistake in how that sound at the start of the sentence should be translated to written symbols. To me, that means he has a punctuation/spelling issue.

    I’m not sure if I have a nonstandard meaning of “grammar” here.

  26. Mitch4 Sep 25th 2017 at 04:19 pm 26

    Carl, I’m happy for you that your #12 caught the left-right issues of your #11. But what I was going to ask about was the use of “stage” left and right. If those were really going to apply to the placement we see on the page…. erm, screen…wouldn’t they be reversed, since we have the audience view not the actors’ view. (Maybe in theater parlance “house right” and left.)
    But given your own correction/hesitation, I wasn’t really sure if bg stage right you meant page right or page left.

  27. Bob in Nashville Sep 25th 2017 at 07:15 pm 27

    He knows it correct, because spell check didn’t catch a thing wrong with it.

  28. Squirrel Antidefamation League Sep 25th 2017 at 07:20 pm 28

    fleabane, some (not I) might think it a good thing because it’s license to be lazy.

  29. Wendy Sep 25th 2017 at 08:49 pm 29

    Well, I don’t pretend to be an authority, as I said I’m a math person, so all you English people can correct me if I’m wrong. I guess what I meant specifically with your vs. you’re is that the second one is “you are” and if you know that, then it’s obviously the right choice for the sentence in the comic. Having a word that shows possession (your) there just doesn’t make any sense at all. But that means you have to know the difference between the two spellings and what they mean, or at least understand contractions. I know this is something they teach in 1st or 2nd grade, so there’s no excuse for teens (or older folks) to do it wrong. Now lose/loose is probably just a spelling error, though again, it seems like a basic difference that people should have learned a long time ago. Using the wrong it’s/its is understandable, as the rules about possessives make it seem like “it’s” should be right when it’s not. I guess to me, I don’t necessarily see using the wrong homophone as a spelling mistake, as if you know what the words mean, only one fits grammatically.

  30. jajizi Sep 26th 2017 at 12:52 am 30

    Stan wonders “What 75 dollar object could get lost…?”

    But was there a $75 object? The sentence “I got find $75!” could be interpreted “I got fined $75.”

    That doesn’t help me in any way to understand the rest of the text. I have no idea what the so-called “jerk” could have lost, or why the texter would be fined and possibly banned.

  31. James Pollock Sep 26th 2017 at 01:33 am 31

    A HS textbook might carry a $75 fine, if lost or damaged beyond re-use. My offspring unit lost a couple of books back in HS, but fortunately, they were the “assigned literature” sort and therefore in the $10 fine range rather than the “principles of algebra: concept and practice” sort, however much it costs to replace those.
    Said offspring graduated from university this June. Cleaned out her old bedroom, and found two books I paid for from high-school years, 7 years ago. One was the approved-for-students abridged Romeo and Juliet, and the other was “Of Mice and Men”, which doubly bothered me because I had to pay for the book AND she never read it.
    In college, books can turn back into pizza money at the end of the term, so “we” stopped losing them.

  32. Boise Ed Sep 26th 2017 at 02:33 am 32

    six hours through car

    I don’t get that one. Someone did a serious detailing job?

  33. James Pollock Sep 26th 2017 at 02:44 am 33

    “Does it bother anyone but me that most of the mistakes in the kid’s texts are not grammatical errors? They’re spelling errors.”

    All spelling errors are grammar errors.
    In mathematical terms, the set of all grammar errors includes the set of all spelling errors as a subset.

  34. Dave in Boston Sep 26th 2017 at 03:15 am 34

    Abridged Romeo and Juliet?

  35. Arthur Sep 26th 2017 at 03:23 am 35

    All spelling errors are grammar errors.

    There is much to support this view, but there does not appear to
    be cromulent consensus.

  36. Arthur Sep 26th 2017 at 03:31 am 36

    Re “six hours through car”:
    “Through” and “via” are considered (by my dictionary) to be
    synonyms. “Six hours via car” does make sense. I’m not sure if
    that’s what the message to Brent was supposed to mean.

  37. Kilby Sep 26th 2017 at 06:39 am 37

    @ Wendy (19) - The only thing that I hate more than browser s automatically doing a spellcheck on every text input window is a smartphone that tries to “predict” the word I want to type. For me, the guesses are almost always wrong, and often aren’t even in the right language.

  38. Olivier Sep 26th 2017 at 09:23 am 38

    Kilby @37 : I’m with you.

  39. Winter Wallaby Sep 26th 2017 at 10:33 am 39

    Wendy #28: I don’t disagree with anything that you’re saying, but I think we’re talking about different things. I think of grammar as the rules for sentence structure: how to put together words to form meaning, which words you’re allowed to choose in different contexts, and how they needs to be changed depending on which other words you use. I think of that as different than spelling, which is about how to transcribe those words into a written format. e.g. “I is very intelligent” has good spelling, but bad grammar. “I am very intellegent” has good grammar, but bad spelling. (Both are ironic, like rain on my wedding day.)

    However, like I said, I’m not sure how well-accepted this distinction is. Results of an internet search were inconclusive. (Weird Al disagrees with me, though.)

  40. Wendy Sep 26th 2017 at 12:41 pm 40

    WW, I’m not clear on the distinctions either. That’s why I put the disclaimer about being a math person. (Though I love to read, and that’s where most of my grammar skills - such as they are - come from.)

    I certainly understand, and agree with, the distinction you made with your example. And I guess that’s what makes homophone misspellings so difficult. Is it that the person can’t spell or that he picked the wrong word? To me, the first would be a spelling error, the second a grammar error. I’d guess arguments could be made both ways. Or you could join JP and say that spelling errors are a subset of grammar errors. At least I think we can all agree that these types of errors are annoying, whatever the reason for them.

    And Kilby, I do hear what you’re saying about the predictive text. It’s not always useful, but it does help some. My biggest issue is that the words move around after each letter. I type “mo” and it has more/move/movie, but then if I type the v, they change order and now “movie” is in the middle but I hit the one on the right because that’s where it was when I noticed it had the word I wanted. And I’m sure your problems are far worse because you text in multiple languages. It still tends to save time on long words compared to my phone, especially for family names or filling in an email address.

  41. Meryl A Sep 27th 2017 at 01:28 am 41

    When we separated our cell phone accounts we changed from calling each other (as same was unlimited free calls to the same carrier) to texting (as I had unlimited free calls but he did not and we both had unlimited texts). This was when I got my Blackberry (replaced my Palm Centro). Texting was easy - all of mine went out completely and correctly written.

    The Blackberry broke and I had to switch phones and I got a Android. No actual buttons for writing as the Blackberry did. I have a problem I keep hitting the letter/symbol to the side of the one I want. Composing a text to Robert while in a store to tell him where I am (one of the, if not the, major use of texting for us, took up to half an hour - while he was frantic that I was not answering. He told me not to worry, I should just compose and send the text and he will be able to figure it out. I also started using the dreaded “u” “r” etc. to cut down on keystrokes to cut down on keystroke errors.

    So, I was standing in the front of Costco watching him wander around the store looking for me as he could not figure out what I wrote (”In ladies room. Going to registers.” - but I have no memory of what actually went out in the text) in response to his “Where are you?” He does not notice things well enough to see me jumping up and down and waving my arms when he looked in my direction. He finally found me.

    I should explain that in the pre cell phone days we once lost each other in the gift shop of the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum - a tiny one room, round track aisle store for about an hour. I finally went outside and stood there until he came past the entrance.

  42. Meryl A Sep 27th 2017 at 01:34 am 42

    James Pollock - When I was in 6th grade we had a change in teachers during the year. When it came time to turn in the books, the new teacher insisted that I turned in the wrong copy of the book and I would not get my report card until I (or my parents more likely) paid for it.

    I was a different kind of person then - I listened to authorities and believed them. So I arrived home after crying all the way there on the school bus. My mom listened to the story and we drove back to school. She told the teacher that she knew it was the same book as it had the same messy book cover on it all year and asked the teacher about the error. Each copy of each book had a different number in it and the number in my book did not match the one that the first teacher had written down when the book was given to me. One digit was different. It was something like a 3 and an 8 or a 4 and a 9. Mom pointed out how similar the number that was different was to what it should be and could it not be that the first teacher wrote it down sloppy and therefore it only looked wrong. A “viewing” of the first teacher’s record and discussion resulted in agreement that it was indeed, the correct book.

  43. James Pollock Sep 27th 2017 at 01:41 am 43

    “Grammar” can be applied to things that are not covered in English class. For example, math class ALSO requires learning grammar… several of them. Geometry has different grammar than calculus, or analysis, or algebra. And it took a while for people to figure out that different grammars could be applied within these… Euclidean geometry has different grammar than non-Euclidean.

    “Grammar” covers the rules for packing information for transportation between intelligences.
    I strongly recommend reading the H. Beam Piper short story “Omnilingual”

    The rule that words have one, and only one, “correct” spelling is a grammar rule. Once you dispense with it, a lot of things are possible.

  44. Cidu Bill Sep 27th 2017 at 01:48 am 44

    Every year when we go to the NY Auto Show, my son and I wonder how we ever managed to keep track of one another before we both had cell phones.

  45. Winter Wallaby Sep 27th 2017 at 11:25 am 45

    Wendy #40: “Is it that the person can’t spell or that he picked the wrong word? To me, the first would be a spelling error, the second a grammar error.”

    It’s interesting that we agree on this, but seem to have different ideas about what would constitute “pick[ing] the wrong word.” When the guy decides to communicate “[X] a jerk,” it seems clear that, in his head, he’s picked [X] to be a word that sounds like “yo͝or,” and which has the meaning “the person I’m talking to should be identified with what follows in the sentence” (i.e. what follows is the phrase “a jerk”). To me, that means that he’s picked the right “word.” He’s turned that [X] into his head into the wrong set of symbols (”your,” rather than “you’re”), but the fact that [X] is correct means to me that his grammar is fine.

    He would only have made a grammar error if he decided, in his head, to pick [Y] to be a word that sounds like “yo͝or” and which has the meaning “the person I’m talking to possess what follows.” Because then “[Y] a jerk” is incorrect grammar for communicating that the person you’re talking to possess a jerk.

    See, I used [X] and [Y], so you can no longer plead ignorance based on being “a math person”! (Just joking, I’m also a math person.)

  46. James Pollock Sep 27th 2017 at 11:57 am 46

    “he’s picked [X] to be a word that sounds like “yo͝or,” and which has the meaning “the person I’m talking to should be identified with what follows in the sentence””

    The problem is that, grammatically, the word he wanted was “are”. That’s the word that means “should be identified with what follows in the sentence”

    The person in your hypothetical meant to say “you are a jerk”, and substituted a sentence with no verb. Leaving out the verb in a sentence is grammar error.

    The nature of contractions is that we’ve decided, collectively, that leaving out letters is OK in some circumstances where the missing letters can be correctly calculated from the context. (It’s a primitive form of data compression). Grammar has the same features… sentences that would be incomplete on their own, can become complete sentences in certain contexts, where the missing elements can be correctly calculated.

    So, for example, this string: “Me.” is definitely an incomplete sentence. There’s a subject, but no verb. But it IS a complete sentence if the verb can be deduced from the context, such as in the form of a response to a question. For example, in the context of this question-and-response: “Who is being a jerk now, has been a jerk in the past, and will again be a jerk at some unspecified future time? Me.” And it isn’t just limited to leaving out the verb form. You can have complete sentences that leave out the subject, too. The question “what are you doing right now?” can be answered “I am watching TV”, but “Watching TV” is a perfectly valid sentence to respond with. (Although, of course, as discussed earlier, neither is a valid response to “where are you?” unless the answer given allows the person asking the question to deduce the correct answer. See also: “Where are you?”/”On the third planet from the star.”

    Now, the value judgments you attach to the various errors, and the categories you assign them to, are entirely your own. (That is to say, they are none of anyone else’s business.)

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