Signs of Subliteracy

Here’s one. When folks either misuse a word entirely (“effect” for “affect” for but one of many examples) or spell words phonetically (or nearly), it’s a pretty good sign that their literacy skills are pretty thin.

For example, I saw “amuck” used by someone whose verbal vocabulary exceeds his literacy. The word he was groping for, of course, was “amok.” (It’s a fascinating word.) I’m willing to give folks credit for trying, but I’d really rather folks used words they actually KNOW (as a result of good literacy) than spout off with words they really don’t know at all.

Actually, I’d be more charitable had the fellow typed, “amuk,” since that’s an early 17th Century variant spelling. Both spellings derived, of course, from “amuco.”

Oh, and yes I do know that some contemporary folks are arguing for “amuck,” but that’s really just because they’re too lazy to learn how to spell and use words well.

“Irks Me” #3,642

More and more often of late I have seen constructions (in supposedly “professionally written/edited” text) like,

“I would have sung along, if I knew the words.”

“If I would have known the words, I would have sung along.”

Both are horribly wrong, and evidence of serious subliteracy*. Neither should see the light of day in literately edited text.


“I would have sung along, if I HAD KNOWN the words.”

If I HAD KNOWN the words, I would have sung along.”

Even worse are those illiterates who add to one or the other of those disgustingly egregious (for a writer who expects to be paid) assaults on the English language an attempt to gag a maggot by writing, “have sang.”


That is (nearly) all. . . for now.

*I define “subliteracy” as being the condition of being able to decode/encode those funny lil squiggles that comprise written language, while stubbornly maintaining a very, very poor understanding of what is written/what one writes. This condition is primarily due, I think, to a lazy a-literacy: refusing to take the time to become both fluent and literate by means of reading a great deal of well-written text.

I find that in every single case of subliteracy I have ever run across the person is a self-imposed victim of Dunning-Kruger Syndrome; they think they are literate, they “play” a literate on the Internet (and elsewhere, succeeding only in fooling other subliterates and seriously illiterate folk), and they have no interest whatsoever in improving their literacy. In fact, most are offended at being corrected, instead of taking the opportunity to learn from correction.

Note: in casual daybooks, journals, or emails, etc., not written for pay lapses in orthography are certainly excusable. But people who accept pay for wordsmithing should be corrected, and excoriated in the strongest language if they take offense at correction.

And THAT is all. . . for now. 😉

I simply cannot imagine the literacy level these books were written to appeal to. . .

An obviously *cough* “author” *cough* written book blurb begins,

“Anyone who enjoys mystery/thrillers such as James Patterson, Lee Child, and Patricia Cornwell, The [Name suppressed to protect the guilty from raucous mocking] series with definitely satisfy your need for suspense!”

(Yes, that’s a direct copy?paste.)

The “FAIL” is strong with this one. . . If that’s an example of the gibberish the book contains, thanks but no thanks. “Free” is too much to pay for such “work.” The only way I’d read this “writer’s” so-called “work” would be if I were paid to line and content edit the thing (probably, from the evidence of the blurb (and yes, the first few pages of the “omnibus” where the writer and any editor should have focused all available talent and ability. . . but seem not to have done), that might well take a full rewrite, so no.

A Generation of English “Teachers” Have Much to Answer For

. . .as do their students, IMO.

Every time I see some absolutely stupid construction like, “If I would have [done such and so] then I would have [so-and so-ed]” I want to string up a generation of English “teachers” and their “students” and beat them all with dangling participles. No, illiterates, it’s “If I -HAD [done such and so] then I would have [blah-blah-blah-ed].”

See “Past Perfect Conditional,” for example, “If I had owned a car, I would have driven to work. But I didn’t own one, so I took the bus,” as found here.

But then, I see the simple past used where the past perfect is required in published (and reportedly edited) works all the time, too.

Thinning the Herd?


So, got a bill for Medicare Part B. Was expecting the rate quoted me on the phone and online. Was 3X as much.

Now, folks who are subliterate or simply stupid might have had a heart attack or some such, thus thinning the herd, as it were. *heh* Of course, I read on, and although nowhere did the accompanying documentation say it was a quarterly premium, there was a brief note stating it was for 01/01/17-01/03/31, so it was no biggie.

But I can still see some doofus who’s been TOLD the bill would be 1/3 the amount shown get all red in the face, stroke out or have a heart attack, simply because he’d not read (or understood?) the accompanying documentation.

Oh, a moron from Australia (who keeps finding his way into my SPAM folder) said something stupid (as always) about “. . .the small patch of ground between Canada and Mexico,” referring to the US. Yeh, including the mostly desolate wastes of Australia, his own “continent” amounts to just about 10,000 square miles more than the continental US.

Still, with less than 10% of the official US population, there’s room for such massive stupidity in Australia.

See? This is why I check my SPAM folder. Every now and then, I find something mockworthy.

Something Old, Something New. . .

I read. A lot. But lately, many of the books I’ve been reading have been. . . blah.

So, a changeup (the “something new”)

Re-read old favs

Great Books of the Western World. I have a nearly worn out set, and another, in “library binding,” that I’ve read in very little. So, re-read the set over the next year or so.

A different Bible reading plan: chronological. Yeh, read the books/passages in a close approximation of when they were written, with an eye to also reconciling chronology of events, when possible (“chronology of events” hardly applies to the books of poetry. . . for the most part. . . sorta). That’s an approach I’ve not taken before. It’ll work well with re-reading the GBWW.

Something new: I have a couple of different versions/formats of The Harvard Classics in ebook formats now. I can read that set, too, reading around the books included in the GBWW–or even reading some of those in ebook format, if that proves to be more convenient.

Slack off on buying new books. Just buy the “must-haves,” and let the rest go. I’ve spent more time writing reviews of books that fall into the category of “A note to the writer: JUST STOP! Quit writing until you’ve at least passed a remedial English course, AND are willing to pay competent, literate sopy and line editors to fix your crap, mmmK?”

All in all, I think the reading goals outline above will make for a much better experience over the next few months/year.

*Throws a Bullshit Flag on the Play*

Seen [at an undisclosed Internet location], stated by a person claiming to be a Bible-believing Christian:

“My job is NOT to ‘stop Hillary’ or to “StopTrump.’ My job is to lovingly trust and obey my Savior. He gave us very specific vetting lists for consideration when choosing candidates for leadership of a nation.”

I’d like to have the scripture citations where Christ noted the qualifications for “candidates for leading a nation,” please. TY. I do recall the scripture where he told some folks to “render unto Caesar [a pagan with questionable morals by biblical standards] that which is Caesar’s,” but cannot seem to put my finger on his “vetting lists” for candidates to be voted into civil office. . .

And no, I will not accept the parameters set down by which Saul was chosen as king of Israel (against God’s wishes, but he gave ’em what they wanted. Didn’t THAT turn out well. . . )

The comment specifically cites “vetting lists for candidates” set forth by “my Savior”–very specific vetting lists WHICH DO NOT EXIST.

I do very much hope the person who made this asinine statement gets lost on the way to the polling place this November.

Twigging to Dunning-Krugerites

Another trait that exposes those who want others to suffer for their self-inflicted Dunning-Kruger Effect is claiming status they obviously cannot qualify for.


Every now and then, I see a self-pub book cover with “Author So-and-so”. Invariably, at least so far, such books have proven to be unreadable well within the first page of text. Sometimes the first paragraph or the first sentence or even the dedication (if one exists) is so badly written that I almost feel a wee bit of pity for the po’ baby that refers to himself (or herself) as “Author So-and-so,” because the chance that such folk will ever even become moderately competent wordsmiths is somewhere zero and -1,000–and that’s often an optimistic estimation.

Sad. I just wanna know who encouraged them to write without becoming at least literate enough to be fluent in English.

Oh, another clue to incompetent self-pub writers is that they frequently include a forward or dedication that makes much of the extensive editing their “work” has undergone. Almost invariably, that indicates that the book is FULL of misused words, indicating that both the writer and any editors are the next thing to illiterate, inexcusably execrable grammar (in narrative, not even dialog), unbelievable continuity errors, etc.

And they (and their so-called “editors”) never see all the “Oopsies” because they are not really literate enough to know the differences. Not one of them.

And yet they think of themselves as and proudly proclaim themselves to be “authors”.

A Brief Note to Both of My Readers


For any of your completely clueless friends, Malwarebytes’ blog is full of articles on malware, written for easy accessibility and comprehension by casual users. Nothing technical, just simple (sometimes too simple), easily-grasped blogposts about malware for folks who do not want or need technical stuff but who could benefit from a wee bit of awareness of threats.

A Brief Comment About the Use of “Grammar Nazi”

“Grammar Nazi” is a term widely misused by folks on the Internet to refer to anyone who takes umbrage at illiterate abuse of language. It is a term of derision mean to the shield the user’s ego, usually after their own subliterate (or downright illiterate) abuse of English. Seriously insecure people are “offended” by others’ abuse of English being corrected.

Grammar~Syntax?Structure, logic, reason, all affecting the clear transmission of meaning. The more “noise” in the transmission, the shallower and less meaningful the transmission.

Phonemes (and their analogs in print) are just noise absent syntax and semantics.

Syntax: structure (99% of grammar). Affects semantics.

Semantics: meaning–the transmission of which is the sole justification for language.

“Now there abide these three: phonemes, syntax, and semantics; and the greatest of these is semantics.”

Where phonemes (and their analogs in print) are poorly transmitted (poor pronunciation or poor spelling), meaning is less well transmitted. Where syntax is garbled (spoken or in text) meaning is less well transmitted.

If these are important when speaking or writing in a “foreign” language (and they most CERTAINLY are!), then they are just as important when speaking one’s own, “native,” language.

Nazism does not apply, since fascist socialism has no place in any of these things.