”As long as people understand can already la.” This is a very common line that perpetuates our deteriorating standard of English in Malaysia. Pictured above are two recent blunders that went viral on social media. The welcome message to President Obama, in particular, really made headlines as it caused national embarrassment. We are plagued with many, many more examples that fortunately did not catch similar limelight. Question is, can we really be so nonchalant about grammar and spelling errors?
WILL errors hurt your business?
As Malaysia rises to be the start-up hub of South East Asia, businesses are popping up more than ever; competition is becoming tough. It’ll be such a shame if these companies are unable to reach their full potential just because of simple language errors. Having 59% of your traffic hit the “close” button because you spelled “SELL” instead of “SALE” will definitely stifle your rise to stardom.
WHY errors hurt your business?
Although the examples above were websites that sell online, the same principle applies to your offline marketing materials as well. A business card with a typo or a brochure with poorly constructed sentences are much less likely to convert a hot lead. Here’s why:
Bad First Impression
Duncome pointed out that websites only have six seconds to capture their audience’s attention. If a spelling or grammar error is obvious, visitors may leave quickly because you have failed to make a good impression. A strong copy is the equivalent to a firm handshake.
Poor Attention to Detail
Trust and credibility fly right out the window if your content has poor grammar. It reflects a lack of care in your business. In a competitive field such as insurance, media management, or printing, clients have a ton of service providers to choose from. The last thing you’ll want to do, is sabotage yourself.
Lacks Critical Thinking
Knowing how to structure a grammatically correct sentence is a sign that you can analyse, explain, and solve complex problems. However, the inability to use the language correctly, may give the impression that you lack the skills and professionalism to earn your client’s business. Clients always appreciate it when you understand their needs and are able to get the job done with minimal guidance.
Whether it is digital or print ads, spelling and grammar errors can severely impact your bottom line. Competition is tough, and if you don’t take the care to present yourself professionally, you may well be losing some important business.
So do you want to remain on the dark side, shrugging off language mistakes and potential clients; or do you want to be the force that awakens, and ensure your business is running at its full potential?
Spellcheck has integrated itself deep within our lives; almost to a point where we don’t even realise it auto-corrects our typos. It is on PowerPoint, emails, and even website builders. For most people, Microsoft Word is their go-to-programme to use Spellcheck. It is human nature to believe something that has been around for decades would be completely full proof. Guess what? It isn’t! Here’s a good example:
Spell check will not fine words witch are miss used butt spelled rite! (Try copying this sentence into MS Word)
Here are 6 types of mistakes that will slip past MS Word’s spelling and grammar checkers.
1. Incorrect Pronouns
Spellcheck does not discriminate at all. In fact, it assumes all males and females are equal (including all variations of pronouns).
Alice loves animals. He has 5 cats. Him favourite cat is Mia. It loves Mia because she fur is beautiful.
Alice could even pass as “it”!
2. Incorrect Verb Tenses
It’s interesting that Spellcheck has no sense of time. So it cannot warn you of incorrect past or present verb tenses.
The man has a major heart attack back in 2010. Now, he had a pacemaker.
Making mistakes like these in a presentation could be a real heart stopper.
3. Dates & Numbers
Unlike words, numbers are always numerically correct unless there is context to it; say, in a mathematical formula, or a date. Here is an example.
In 1015, 2.6 billion Ringgit disappeared.
Now, there is no mistake about year “1015”. However, contextually, we know it’s not possible since the Ringgit only appeared 900+ years later.
4. Missing Words
In a culture where clipping words in a conversation is a norm, we have to be extra cautious when writing because Spellcheck will not be there to save you. This next sentence may sound correct in a conversation, but try to spot the missing words.
One month since the petrol prices went up. The next hike coming soon.
If only Spellcheck could correct your sentence to...
It’s been a month since the petrol prices went up. The next hike is coming soon.
5. Incorrectly Divided Compound Words
Spellcheck won't tell you that "rain bow" should be spelled "rainbow", or that "gold fish" should be "goldfish". This is because when a compound word is split, they are still legitimate words that exist but, with completely different definitions from the compound word.
This is my favourite because I have just discovered this limitation of Spellcheck. Let me show you a few examples of similar-sounding words that I have jumbled up in a sentence which have slipped the Spellcheck test.
Tom and Katie always get there apples from their backyard. Their neighbours know they can get it from their too.
Could you please pair my pear with the knife? Kim and Kris make a cute pare.
I right very well. Please write me a cheque with the write amount.
So, it is pretty evident that A LOT can get pass your computer’s Spellcheck. However, it is important to note that these limitations have nothing to do with technology or software, but rather the expansive nature of the English language itself. The bottom line is that technology, while useful and saves time, is still not advanced enough to substitute good old-fashion human proofreading. Have a buddy look through your work the next time; or better yet, outsource to a professional.