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Writing for the Internet - Critiques

Writing for the Internet - Critiques.

©: Lynda Archard September 19, 2000

The World Wide Web is an excellent communication centre. As writers we need to be universal in our reports and descriptions too. Even as readers, we are those too, must remember that spellings, attitudes and sometimes grammar are different around the world.

Since placing some of my articles onto Themestream I have had so many comments on my grammar and style that it almost feels as if I need to become a standard human being that does everything universal. Of course no amount of either praise or criticism will ever change me too much but it does make me want to learn more. Can we ever truly be universal in our writing?

On one article I explained that a SSAE should be included with your manuscript. Within hours I received an email telling me that I had accidentally put SSAE instead of SASE from an author who is used to Australian and Canadian English. After I told her that here in the UK SSAE means 'Stamped Self Addressed Envelope' she explained that SASE means 'Self-Addressed Stamped Envelope.' I was grateful that she took the time to write to me and did not leave a comment telling me that my grammar was atrocious.

In UK English we also place the full stop inside quote marks and the US style places them outside, we add a 'u' to words such as colour and use two 'l's' in words such as essentially. They are just some of those subtle differences that make a culture unique. Other differences are our views to certain situations, the way we live and the tolerance of behaviour. In view of these differences is it right to comment on this type of imperfection? Do we need a comment on the content of an article? Getting an article right or wrong depends on the level of knowledge and understanding of a topic. Either the writer has got it wrong, helped or entertained you in some way. These critiques are helpful to put the record straight and to remind the writer that he/she should stick to a topic in which they understand or to be more thorough with future attempts at non-fiction.

If you write for a universal audience then you must keep these thoughts in mind. One day there may be a set universal English but I doubt it will be in our life time. We can add to our skills by learning and understanding other languages and dialects when we aim our work at a specific international market. For now, and especially for Internet writers and readers, we need tolerance to accept other styles and restrain from criticising what we don't fully understand. Don't you agree?

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