Why are spelling mistakes pissed off?


Grammar pedants and spelling “chauvinists” have been predicting the decline of the literary language for decades. Messengers, social networks, the notorious T9 on smartphones … The literacy bar is decreasing – and this is a fact. But is it good for speech perception?

Language is of great importance to many areas of our life. Some develop an almost allergic reaction to mistakes, and they immediately begin to stick labels: writing illiterately means a dropout, a cultured person, insane.

Recent research shows that such categorical behavior says a lot about who judges someone else’s literacy. Linguists Julie Boland and Robin Queen of the University of Michigan set out to find out how differently people react to written errors.

In the study, 83 respondents rated advertisements from fictitious tenants seeking roommates. The content was always the same, but the spelling was different: typos and grammatical errors were added to the texts.

The typos were minor, inadvertently (eg, “abuot” instead of “about”). They did not change the meaning of what was written – our brain read the original meaning. While grammatical errors (“you’re” instead of “your”) sometimes completely changed the meaning of the text.

Introverts and silent people tend to be more annoyed by mistakes than extroverts

Then, based on the texts they read, the subjects were asked to rate whether they perceived the respective candidate as attractive, smart, or reliable. The assessments, according to experts, were not related to the level of education or age of the assessed, but to the personality of the assessors.

They were first asked to fill out a questionnaire. Then their characters were correlated with the classical psychological model of the “Big Five”: neuroticism, extraversion, openness to experience, cooperation (getting along well), conscientiousness (conscientiousness).

During their research, Boland and Quinn found that introverts and silent people tended to be more annoyed by mistakes than extroverts.

Neurotic people are not bothered by language errors, and conscientious but less open people especially dislike typos. As a rule, they can put up with grammatical errors. Quarrelsome and intolerant people, in turn, showed an “allergy” to grammatical errors.

Correct language handling is not only necessary to better understand each other, but is also considered a criterion of professionalism.

Of course, the results of the study cannot seriously affect real life. And yet, the correct handling of the language is not only necessary to better understand each other, but is also considered a criterion of professionalism.

For example, some employers trust or distrust employees based on their literacy. And even when hiring, they filter candidates through a spelling test.

In personal correspondence, grammatical mistakes can kill a relationship. Correctly and competently chosen words without mistakes can influence the choice of a potential partner. Against the background of the popularity of “lazy” messages, the authors of which are not ready to spend time correcting mistakes, literate people look more sexy.

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