OK, OK I admit it, it’s 10.30 on a Thursday morning and I’m doing what we used to call surfing. (I’m not sure what we call it now.) Anyway, I’ve found an article about how badly giant US retailer Walmart treats its staff – together with scores of comments mostly from people who used to work there – http://www.forwardprogressives.com/think-walmart-is-an-evil-empire-wait-until-you-read-this/
I don’t suppose the content of the article or the comments beneath it are very different from what you might read about an equivalent UK employer. But what is incredibly different – and this isn’t the first time I’ve noticed this – is the spelling. In dozens and dozens of comments from former employees who, having worked in Walmarts on minimum wage and almost literally in Pigsknuckle Arkansas, since the firm is based in that state, are presumably not among the most highly-educated of Americans, there is literally hardly a spelling or grammatical mistake.
The online comments that I read most often on UK sites are those from financial advisers on articles in the financial trade press. These are illiterate to an astounding and infuriating degree. I really honestly doubt if more than half of them can spell the word “independent,” even though being independent financial advisers is absolutely fundamental to their sense of who they are. In one comment, I counted 23 mistakes in three short paragraphs.
And much as I’d like to believe that these ghastly choleric advisers fall hopelessly below the standards of the average Brit, I’m sure that in fact they don’t. Anyone who reads Private Eye’s brilliant parody of this kind of stuff, From The Messageboards, will understand that the writing in any quantity of online comments is almost (though happily not quite) beyond parody.
I have a feeling that a growing proportion of these blogs find me fretting about phenomena that I’m quite unable to explain. Thinking about it, I can see that this could make for unrewarding reading, since you probably can’t explain them either. I’ll try to strike a less mystified note, at least for a while. But meanwhile, if you have any explanations for the extraordinary superiority of American’s spelling and grammar, I’d be delighted to hear them.