Reader Letters

An Issue With Language

Let me start off by saying that I love your site and that I regularly share it with others, whenever possible. I’m particularly fond of the Non-Expert, which is why I found the “Love Sic” piece so troubling.

If that was a real question, the person who wrote it was either suffering from some sort of disability or operating at an extremely low reading level. If that case the response was a cheap shot and the most painfully obvious way to belittle someone who is obviously at a disadvantage.

If that question was fabricated, what a waste of time. The piece was unreadable at best.

I’m not really a P.C., touchy-feely type but I was really turned off and felt the need to let someone know. I still think you guys are the bomb.

Thanks for listening,
Nick Johnson

Rosecrans Baldwin responds: We appreciate the feedback and it means even more when it comes from a dedicated reader. The question was a real message. I can’t speak to the sender’s mental state, but I can tell you that the email was about average for the type of queries we receive at the Non-Expert desk—half of the mail we get is much worse. The idea, however, was to play with the question’s diction and phrasing on the page and to avoid cheap shots. You’ll judge us by the degree to which we did so, but those were our intentions.

Giles Turnbull responds: When I read the question, the first thing that came to mind was the language used by some of the teenagers who hang around on street corners in this part of England. It’s a language that I find utterly, utterly perplexing. But that’s normal, because I’m a dull 38-year-old and they are teenagers and that’s what teenagers do. Their language twists around corners that us older folk can’t even see in the first place. My aim with this answer was to try, as far as I could, to peer round one of those corners, just to see what’s there. As Rosecrans says, and as he and I discussed before the piece was published, there was no intention to take cheap shots. Or even any shots at all.
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