Wednesday, January 6, 2010

How Not to Be a "Linguistic Snob"

I came across this today. I was particularly annoyed at this:

What is presented below are my personal observations about some of the programs I have investigated for personal wikis. Now, perhaps I've misunderstood what a program does. But overall, I think the following reviews and concerns are legitimate enough.
These issues might not be a problem for some folks. It really depends on what you want the wiki to track, do, function, etc.
Connected Text–Web - Site uses poor spelling and wrong English. Not to be a linguistic snob, but if they don’t understand how my language works, can they understand what I DO with that language? And, that raises the concern about correctness of programming. If the documentation is wrong, is the programming?
Now, some folks would take a look at Microsoft and say this point is moot. The difference is one or two people writing a program, vs. and entire organization backing the program. How long until a flaw is corrected? How much tech support can a single person be if they are programming, working on a job, caring for a family, and more?"

This passage itself is not a paragon of correct English. What does it mean to say "what you want the wiki to ... function," for instance? But, more importantly, to say that a non-native speaker's shortcomings in English indicate anything about their thought processes is chauvinism at its worst.

The program is developed by Brazilians, whose Portuguese is—I would bet—much superior to this Blogger's English. And last time I checked, English is not a required skill for programming. It can be done by Brazilians, Germans, Indians, and members of any other language group. Some of the most important thinkers did not speak English either. Indeed, I think most of the most important thinkers would have used "wrong English," simply because they could speak little or no English at all.

I, who have actually used this program for more than four years, have never seen it crash and can assure you that it does what I want it to do in any language I am able to use (including English).


Anonymous said...

Not to mention the grammar in the name of the blog "Fringe Thoughts on Running a Indexing Business"!!!

MK said...

Yes, and that is not the end of it either.