Saturday, October 17, 2015

Wells on Grammar—Sexy, Sexy Grammar

In the October 1, 2015, edition of The Wall Street Journal, Georgia Wells talks about one of the most attractive qualities on online dating sites—good grammar. Excerpts:
Dating site Match asked more than 5,000 singles in the U.S. what criteria they used most in assessing dates. Beyond personal hygiene—which 96% of women valued most, as compared with 91% of men—singles said they judged a date foremost by the person’s grammar. The survey found 88% of women and 75% of men said they cared about grammar most, putting it ahead of a person’s confidence and teeth.

“When you get a message that is grammatically correct and has a voice and is put together, it is very attractive, it definitely adds hotness points,” says New Yorker Grace Gold. “People who send me text-type messages, and horrific grammatical errors? I just delete them.” She recalls the red flag raised by one potential suitor who had written his entire dating profile in lowercase.

Language has always played a part in how people judge others, but it has become amplified in recent years with increasing informal and colloquial usage, says Ben Zimmer, a lexicographer and chair of the New Words Committee of the American Dialect Society. ...

One reason people judge grammar and spelling snafus so harshly is that they can reflect the level of effort, or lack thereof, that folks put into their bio. “People use quality of writing as an indication of work ethic,” says Max Lytvyn, co-founder of automated-proofreading company Grammarly.
Read the whole thing. When “Fostering” got picked up by Acidic Fiction a few months ago, the most encouraging thing the editor said to me was that the piece was "very clean." (Since it dealt with messy dismemberment and marital strife, I can only assume he wasn't referring to the content.) Why did I find it so heartening? Because Lytvyn's assertion is absolutely correct: Good grammar signals a certain degree of professionalism. Career politicians, business professionals, and even apparently potential mates all get judged according to their command of the language. How much more so people who want to sell stories to others? Grammar may not be the sexiest area of study, but there's no denying that it can make almost anyone more attractive.

(Picture: CC 2011 by Daniel Silliman)

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