Grammar errors, punctuation irk some faculty

Bo Gemmel

This “mite” be the worst spelling error of all.

Marnie Sanders, director of advising for the College of Business Administration, said one student sent his business and professional writing professor an e-mail saying he couldn’t purchase the textbook in time to do the first assignment.

“The student spelled ‘might,’ m-i-t-e,” said Sanders, who received the e-mail by mistake. “There was no punctuation, no capitalization. It looked like an IM or a text message.”

She said the professor who received the e-mail informed the student that a mite is a “little bug,” and that standard professional form would have been preferred.

Other professors find poorly written e-mails offensive, including Gene Pendleton, associate professor of philosophy, who said excessive careless errors suggest what the professor is doing isn’t that important.

“In some ways, it’s insulting that they don’t take the time to correct things,” he said.

Philosophy lecturer Clarence Uher said he usually scans the overall content of e-mails and doesn’t pay close attention to grammar and mechanical details.

“Obviously, you hope the e-mail is as professional as academia requires it to be,” Uher said.

But no matter how it’s written, the one line that does irritate Uher is, “Did I miss anything important in class?”

Despite seeing e-mails from other students filled with mistakes, freshman accounting major Eric Tomlinson said he wouldn’t send an e-mail with content he might regret at a later time. For people who do, however, Google may have found a solution.

For e-mail errors or regrettable content, Google created Mail Goggles, which allows users to set time frames restricting when they send e-mails. Assuming the sender’s mistakes are alcohol-related, the application forces the sender to answer a series of simple math problems in a short time. The name refers to “beer goggles,” a term used to describe a drunken person’s sexual attraction to ugly people.

“I’d never send an e-mail while drunk,” Tomlinson said. “I drunk text all the time; I don’t think I’d ever drunk e-mail, though. It’s a little too much work.”

Kent State will gradually switch users from FlashLine to Google’s Gmail later this month.

Some professors, however, don’t see problems in student e-mails. Joshua Stacher, assistant professor of political science, said he doesn’t receive “excessively informal” e-mails from students.

Stacher said he thinks formal e-mails are “more of a respect factor than anything,” adding that informal e-mails are more suitable for friends.

Still, Sanders said she sees unprofessional writing from students constantly.

“They’re texting, they’re Facebooking, they’re IMing, so they tend to use that format casually,” she said.

She said the older generation needs to accept these new methods of communication, but students “can’t use text or IM lingo with a professor.”

Contact general assignment reporter Bo Gemmell at [email protected].