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How do I deal with a regular contributor to an online forum who has a great deal of difficulty expressing themselves? I would guess by their spelling and grammar that English (the language of the forum) isn't their first language. Their postings are usually brief, but sometimes they make long statements that frankly don't make much sense. Requests for clarification usually go unanswered so I'm at a loss as to how to keep this person engaged in the forum. What can I do?
As usual, a wise and useful answer. I work every day with people for whom English may be a second, or often a third or fourth language. As I deal face to face, I can question for understanding, rephrase, and after a while I can get a better ear for the cadence and idiom of the speaker. It's different on an internet forum, as you can only deal with what the person puts out there.
There are of course other barriers to communication. There was a regular babbler a number of years ago who seemed to have an eccentric way of expressing himself, but later shared that he was using assistive devices on his computer to communicate. Once you got used to it, you almost stopped noticing.
As ms. communicate says, patience and a little positive reaching out, and really hone your attentive skills.
I've got a family member who belongs to what I shall call the "language Gestapo". It's very annoying and the result often is that even the subject of discussion gets lost.
Which is, I suspect, the general idea. Some Beltovs like to overturn the apple-cart, for the fun of it, a little too much. It may be hard to believe, but I'm the sensible one.
I actually get compliments on my English from people whose mother tongue isn't English. Many people who are learning English have an interested attitude towards the language and are, often, more respectful of the language than a native speaker. There's a great little exchange in the Henry Fonda version of [i]Twelve Angry Men[/i] in which a recent immigrant corrects the English of a native speaker. Politeness probably prevents this from happening more often.
It's not just online forums where one can make a difference, and put others at ease, with a little effort. And there are benefits too; sometimes one gets asked those questions that aren't asked of anyone else and you one gets to know someone much better because of it.
[ 16 May 2008: Message edited by: N.Beltov ]
Heh. I guess I'm one of those 'language Gestapo' types, stemming from growing up as a proofreader and editor for my dad's books and articles. That was a long time ago, I'm not up to speed on a lot of new words, haven't kept up with language and grammar trends, and I generally don't make spelling flames online (although I'm sorely tempted, occasionally).
I guess I used to be a bit of a language snob, but I made a conscious effort to cease and desist. One of the things that helped is that my keyboarding can be pretty sloppy when I'm in a hurry and my spelling is not particularly strong. So on the internet, I can look a bit foolish being critical of others.
Language is all we have to communciate online and thus there is probably more conflict because we do not have the mediating aspects of vocal and verbal cues.
why did the OP want the person to remain engaged in the forum so much? If he/she couldn't understand him or her and what was said, well, why not just let nature take its course, either the bad English poster will get frustrated and will stop posting, or better their language skills in order to be able to post so that people can actually understand what is being written.
I think it is a good thing that people get obsessed about proper grammar and spelling - however, only with regard to fellow native English speakers. To point out every error to someone learning English as a second language is just mean - I should know, I've been on the other side of this, and when you are trying your best just to communicate and every grammatical or pronunciation error is picked upon, you never get the chance to actually finish the sentence and end up frustrated.
I miss boom boom
I'm sure he can be found at B n R.
My link to BnR does not work anymore
Do you need the url or do you just need to register again?
The new url forgot to bookmark it last time I was there, if you have it. :)
thank you writer