Teaching as an adjunct can be a lot of fun. It is also challenging. As I have encountered a number of situations, I realize such a blog can be helpful, both to me and to others.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Vocal Pauses... In Writing... Again

About a week and a half ago, I wrote an entry about a student who used a vocal pause in an e-mail. It was the first time I had ever had such an experience. Unfortunately, it was not the last time.

A few days ago a student was trying to set up a meeting with me. We corresponded back and forth via e-mail. I suggested we talk after class. She had a meeting and sent me an e-mail alerting me to the fact. The e-mail started out, “ummm tomorrow I have a meeting…”.

So in less than two weeks, I have two different students using vocal pauses in e-mails. In addition, this most recent e-mail follows the rule of e-mails that capitalization and punctuation is not important. I was so tempted to send an e-mail back correcting her text and saying, “It should look like this: ‘Ummm, tomorrow I have a meeting’.” Then adding, “Please not this does nothing to address the vocal pause you included that should be eliminated altogether, nor does it correct the spelling of the word ‘Um’.”

I realize that the way we speak effects the way we write, unfortunately. For instance, one of the most common mistakes I get on written work students hand in is the use of the word ‘Of’ instead of ‘Have’. In spoken, casual, conversational English, one might say, “I shoulda argued,” which of course should be, “I should have argued”. Many students think they are fixing this by writing, “I should of argued”.

I find the mistake of using “Of,” instead of “Have,” to be particularly annoying. I find typing e-mails all in lower case letters to be particularly annoying. Now, you can add to that list, I find students including vocal pauses in written text to be particularly annoying.

Maybe I am just getting cantankerous in my old age.