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Is it wrong to have (high) expectations of writer-type people?

Posted by Miss Knotty on March 2, 2007

I am typically a pretty easygoing person. I’ll let a grammar mistake or a spelling mistake slip, typically, in the general scheme of things. But when you’re writing a legal document wherein one word can materially alter the interpretation (and outcome) of a legal document, it seems to me that it’s important to check your grammar and maybe have someone else proofread it too. Amazing what other people will catch.

Note: I am not an attorney. I don’t practice law; I have no right to do so.

That said, I know the difference between affect and effect.

I also know the difference between ‘furnish‘ and ‘finish’. (insert Scrabble joke here)

I’m trying not to dwell on these seemingly insignificant occurrences, and to also keep in mind that I’m not perfect either, and grammar and spelling errors will also sometimes get past me (on the first read-through – I read documents (and blog entries) multiple times before I post, lest I should accidentally leave something in and get sued – God forbid, and shah right – as if big name companies are just hunting for insignificant nobody-types with negligible readership* to sue), especially if they’re not misspelled and the computer’s grammar checker will not catch them, but…. when you come across more than one in a series of documents created by the same firm (and probably the same attorney and/or paralegal inside said firm), you start to get frustrated.

I’m sorry to be a stickler, and by the time I catch the error, it’s already an executed document, more’s the pity, but it irritates me. I know, if someone else’s grammar/spelling failing is enough to irk me, then I REALLY need to get a life, but people, I worry (it doesn’t keep me up nights or anything), that if it isn’t pointed out and corrected, then maybe, just maybe, if it ever comes up in a breach of contract suit and the verbiage is wrong and I knew about it but never pointed it out, even though I knew about it, or if I wasn’t brave enough to speak up and get the document corrected so that party x doesn’t have a loophole to get out of a (multi-)million dollar contract and leave party y standing in the dust over a matter of semantics, then I’m partially complicit to the wrong done to party y. And I don’t like that.

I’ll have to stand before God on Judgment Day, and that’ll be on me. Probably low down on the list, far beneath how I loved God and loved my neighbors (although thinking on it, it’s pretty closely related to how I love my neighbors, isn’t it? I mean, I’d want my neighbor/peer/attorney/friend/whatever to point out an error like that to me.), how I treated the poor and needy, whether I loved the lost and tried to lead them to the Lord…. I don’t know. I don’t know if God will ever look at me and say, ‘well, you were a pretty good girl, but there was that time when you didn’t let your boss know about the ‘finish’ v. ‘furnish’ thing and he lost $2.8 million** in the deal…..” And then I’m cast screaming into Hell.

That’s why I’m a stickler about grammar and spelling. Granted, both ‘affect’ and ‘effect’ are words and are correctly spelled, but the application and meaning of these words in context can be wildly different. (So many people use them interchangeably now that the nuance of language is being lost, but there IS a difference.).

*Note: I do not think that my readers are unimportant.  I like to think that there are legions of you out there reading (but not commenting – what is with that?!), but I have to be realistic – I don’t have the readership of Eunny Jang, Grumperina, or Wendy from WendyKnits or the Yarn Harlot (listed in Alpha order, as per usual).  If they said something about a company, the company might hit them with a Cease and Desist, or try to sue them, because they have MASSIVE legions of fans.  Legions who, on a consistent basis, make things happen (i.e. Knitters without Borders, the Heifer Project, Addi Turbos for lace knitting, The Blue Moon thing?).  But I sincerely doubt that my name is going to pop up on the top of a G**gle search for a big brand name, and I take precautions not to put big brand names on my blog, just to be on the safe side of that.

**This is a completely arbitrary sum, created for a ‘for instance’ scenario.

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