I’m Not Penalizing My Students for Spelling and Grammar

I’m not penalizing students for spelling and grammar because:
This world isn’t about standard-issue methods anymore.
This world isn’t about fitting the mold anymore.
All of the molds have been blown open and shattered by the internet.
The very nature of commerce and work is different:
App Delivery Services
These are examples of jobs and work available to everyone—this is 21st century, digital capitalism; if you have access to the internet, you can participate in it.
But what does this really mean?

It means we don’t need to just buy what’s at the store anymore. We can buy anything we like. Anything we damn well please. We’ll order stuff from Russia; we do our own importing. Traditional systems cannot interfere with this basic economic phenomenon: importation. With that individual consumer freedom as importers, no government embargo nor sanction can affect our individual relationship with foreign markets. We don’t have to buy what’s given to us by traditional systems.
Money generally means power in society. Status. What’s happened is the full spectrum of capitalism has become more accessible to everyone. Internet is very much a democratizing force. We saw that democratic influece  when Arab Spring happened, an article from the Pew Research Center pointed out that  “media focused heavily on young protesters mobilizing in the streets in political opposition, smartphones in hand.” And I think it was a very pertinent observation on the part of the media.”[1] “Networks formed online were crucial in organizing a core group of activists, specifically in Egypt.” And, of course, that resulted in the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak, their dictator. An entire government was toppled with the nudge of the internet.
That’s why this world is about figuring out what works for us, now. The molds, our very economic system, our governments, our way of interacting with the world is different. And the 20th-century rule-book is no longer so helpful. Genres are emerging and chaning rapidly: the genre of “Facebook Profile”, or “Tinder Profile” are perhaps the most widely practiced in today’s society. And language is changing rapidly; cross-cultural communication on the internet has resulted in a sharp spike in word coinages and borrowings. The case of the English language is very interesting because it represents the confluence of global ideas; there are more people who speak English as a second, third, or fourth language than there are ‘native’ English-speakers.
When someone is really cool, or when someone is making a lot of money or, I call them a “baller”. I’ve borrowed that from African-American vernacular. And not because I’m appropriating it as a white person, but because that’s what I grew up saying. I grew up in a more inclusive society than previous ones, with more exposure to African-American culture in mainstream music. So “baller” is just another word in my vocabulary. Maybe you refer to people as “ballers” as well. Remember, a part of this assignment is practicing multiple Englishes.
The English language can barely keep up with the pace of technological advancement and globalized communications.
Every year, the Oxford English Dictionary has a “word of the year” that is then “officially” recognized in the English language.
All we have to do is look at the words of the year from the last 5 years to see the changes happening in the language.
Words of the Year Oxford English dictionary
2012, “GIF”
2013, “selfie”
2014, “vape”
2015, an emoji [face with tears of joy emoji]. A visual symbol, not even a “word” we would recognize with letters/orthography based on the Latin alphabet.

In terms of rapid change in the language and the academy, MLA citations have changed in lots of ways since I started college. Titles were still underlined to cater to typewriting: typewriters didn’t have an italic font. That’s an example of how the internet and technology has been causing fluid and shifting standards that are hard to negotiate with Academic English. Every couple of years, it seems, there’s a new way to cite various online sources. Periods move. Italics shift. There are some tectonic grammatical shifts happening right now; again, the language can barely keep up with the pace of technological advancement.

Everything is very fluid right now. I’ll look over your papers and correct them for ‘Academic English,’ and you will not be penalized as you’re trying to learn how to do that better. This shit is confusing. While all of these shifts are taking place, we must adapt and figure out what works for us, because we’re the ones who have to navigate this brave new world without precedent.


-Ms. Truly


[1] Brown, Heather, Emily Guskin, and Amy Mitchell. “The Role of Social Media in the Arab Uprisings” Pew Research Center

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