Language in use  
English Language & Linguistics

English Language


The Right Impression?

Spelling, grammatical accuracy and appearance can and do affect the way we read the content of a message. Speling and gramatical acuracy effect what we think. Don't they?

They affect us to such an extent, in fact, that the message content is often lost in our reaction to the linguistic errors. This is true - but is it right?

Here's the front page of the Cambridge News Property Guide September 2011

single story

This was an article about bungalows - and, no, it was not a deliberate pun.

Is our impression of the paper or the information about the houses much affected? Probably not. We may get a frisson of delight in seeing someone else slip up and we may smirk with a slight sense of superiority at having spotted the error but probably no more.

Would this error produce the same reaction in a CV for an estate agent's job ?

What is our reaction to this hand written sign? (Name and phone number obscured)

dunster museum sign

  • How many errors can you find? Describe them.
  • What's our impression of the writer?
  • Are we more - or less - sympathetic because of the writer's lack of skill?
  • Are we more - or less - likely to volunteer to help?
  • Does it matter? Explain.

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