Rochelle (Shelley) Rodrigo

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Cleaning Minds & Shanking Babies


If it were up to Weird Al Yankovic, I’d be doing some serious hard time for “Word Crimes.

Creative Commons licensed image posted at Flickr by Tantek Çelik

I’m very glad that Rose Jacobs’ Chronicle blog post “Overhypoed Typos” came out about at the same time as Weird Al’s video. I definitely like to think of myself as the “brilliant if distracted professor” who spends some time checking for typos and then moves on. And, as Jacobs says, I think if my audience “huffs and puffs” over IDing “errors I fail to catch, surely they’re missing the forest for the trees.” Jacobs goes on to ask “Does a clean email represent a clean mind or a mind preoccupied with the wrong details?”

As someone who has had

That is how innovation happens; chance favors the connected mind
Steven Johnson

in my email signature file for at least 3 to 4 years and submitted a born-digital essay in grad school that explicitly juxtaposed quotations from various theorists as a part of meaning making process, I obviously value the connections that can be made from a little creative chaos. That being said, I have noticed since I moved from my full-time position at Mesa Community College to my tenure-track position at Old Dominion University, I’ve been a bit more concerned about some of my rushed messages that have a typo or ten.


Beware Shelley when she’s out networking; don’t bring your kids!

For example, blissfully Megan knew I meant “kissin’ hands and shakin’ babies” versus “shankin’ babies.” (Although, Megan did quickly clarify later before we headed out to drinks and dinner with folks, none of whom brought any babies!) Thankfully that amusing typo was in a private Google Chat session.

Citation: Click the image to go to the sales site.
Caption: Yes, one of my graduate students owns this t-shirt and enjoys wearing it at our project work sessions.

Back to the point, or the question, about “overhypoed typos”–is there a happy balance between getting work done, that might include a few typos, and making sure everything is perfect before it is sent out? Again, like Jacobs, I’ve appreciated my increased sensitivity about typo awareness as a reason to try “learning, memorizing, and employing the [grammatical] rules myself.” Trying to memorize more grammatical rules (aka, identify my own glitches and how to fix them) has become my own challenge to own; don’t worry grad students, you will still have plenty of chances to “silently correct my grammar.”

I like where Jacobs ends with the possible need to change the criteria being used in situtions that use grammar errors as a filtering mechanism. I like that she ends with an implicit reminder that both writing and reading are rhetorial acts, asking people to consider what meaning they are making, and why they are making it, and how the purpose in reading impacts the process of meaning making.

FYI: The changes I made prior to posting

1. I confirmed “Jacob” vs. “Jacobs” and then making sure I had the possessive punctuation correct.

2. I change “implicet” to “implicit” (had to look it up through a Google search).

3. I added “as” before “Weird Al’s Video” in sentence #2 (then I got distracted by this webpage’s description of using “like” and “as” until I slowed down and skimmed it until the end…damn implied verb!)

4. I conciously left “IDing” instead of using “identifying.”

5. I added a second comma in the sentence discussing my concern about using grammar, making the time frame clause a parenthetical; thank you Henry James for your lessons in using punctuation to sling together long sentences.

6. I played with punctuation in the paragraph that starts with “back to the point.” I’m definitely juggling the distinction between writing and speaking.

7. By the third paragraph, realizing as normal, I’ve got a lot of conjunctions in the text. Bah Humbug, it’s a casual blog post and I like it that way! (Then have to look up and correct my initial spelling of “Bahumbug.”)

8. I consciously changed “you’ll” to “you will” to more emphatically emphasize my graduate student will have plenty of opportunities to chuckle at my expense. I don’t think I need to continue to emphasize it through formatting.

9. I do italicize “and” to emphasize the “both” of writing and reading.

10. I caught a typo of a word in the last sentence (hey Google/Chrome spell check, why didn’t you catch “meanking”?).

11. That last sentence sure feels like a run-on; but I think it looks good. And I’m definitely at the point of: “if you are caught up in all my errors, surely you’re missing the forest for the trees!”

12. I added quotations around “Word Crimes.”

13: Changing “It” to “Trying to memorize more grammatical rules (aka, identify my own glitches and how to fix them)” so that I don’t have unclear reference for my pronoun.