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Grammar Equals Intelligence?

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posted on Jun, 21 2008 @ 01:56 AM
I agree that a person's grammar and spelling don't determine how intelligent they are, but this is a forum. The only interaction the members on this forum have are through written word, with no context from the author to help us decipher their meaning if what they write isn't entirely clear.

With that in mind, I understand where the resentment towards poor grammar and spelling comes from, can't you?

Good point.

posted on Jun, 21 2008 @ 02:05 AM
This might make you laugh..

What if the geniuses were so genius, that they actually listened to their teachers when they said "sound it out" which causes about 90% of their spelling problems?

What about society which forces them to spell correctly, so they resort to using more simple words that they can spell?

Or maybe they are so genius, that they don't even need to fix their mistakes because they know people will understand anyway?

For example:
I'm sure you herd of this "rumor".

Olny srmat poelpe can raed tihs.
I cdnuolt blveiee taht I cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd waht I was rdanieg. The phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid, aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoatnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit a porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Amzanig huh? yaeh and I awlyas tghuhot slpeling was ipmorantt! if you can raed tihs psas it on !!"

Even if the message is true or false, you can clearly see that spelling is not the biggest concern. Nor is grammar.

That is because, the highest geniuses can instantly fix the mistakes in their head, and move on without it bothering them. Actually, they are so smart, that they simply overlook small mistakes because their mind automatically fixes the mistake and doesn't even see the mistake there.

Its like mind over matter.

p.s. don't run your spell check on the cambridge quote.

[edit on 21-6-2008 by ALLis0NE]

posted on Jun, 21 2008 @ 03:01 AM

Originally posted by Pandapple
After reading a bunch of random threads, I noticed a pattern. A lot of posters are often abused for their grammar/punctuation. As frustrating as a badly presented post may be, I don't think it's fair to attack someone's integrity due to that alone.

For example, I knew someone who spoke/typed like a 12-year-old. However, he was a mathematical genius. He was able to secure an important and demanding job in the police department, as well as maintain an incredibly successful business.

Some of history's greatest minds were known to be eccentric and uneducated.

Do people honestly believe that correct spelling and placement of commas and quotation marks really mirror an individual's intelligence?

I dont' think it's directly related to grammar but it's very often a sign of education, or at least being well read. For me though it's just difficult reading badly typed posts. Maybe that makes me dumb, being unable to wade through someones very long and badly grammatical post.

Everyone makes typing mistakes of course and that's fine. However the worst ones for me are the posts that have no paragraphs. I really have trouble getting through those as there is no break of information, just a long stream. Even focusing on that can make my eyes go funny.

Oh notice how most of the people posting here have excellent grammar, i think this is because they're all hyper aware of having good grammar in a post about it. Maybe it's about laziness as well.

[edit on 21-6-2008 by ImaginaryReality1984]

posted on Jun, 21 2008 @ 03:09 AM
reply to post by Pandapple

Sadly, I am one of those people with terrible grammar. I am often told that my idea's and thoughts are brilliant. However my grammar needs a lot of work. I have always struggled with the language arts. I have been writing my ideas and thoughts down in the form of blogs, emails, forum post etc. etc. etc. for a couple of years now. When I first started my grammar was so bad that people had a hard time understanding what I was saying. As time goes on, I get much better at it. Spelling isn't an issue it is the grammar and pronunciation that I struggle with.

So to get to the point. I don't criticize people for grammar because I would be criticizing myself. It drives me nuts, when people do that. If your whole argument against what I am saying revolves around my weight or grammar, just don't bother. You are only making yourselves look stupid. If you disagree with someone that is fine. However don't use grammar or looks for your whole basis for your counter argument. It is stupid and annoying and just proves you have no valid reason for disagreeing. Unless you count your closed mind as being a valid reason. Which most people don't.

It also annoys me, when someone says something about your looks in their counter-argument. That is the way children argue, not grown ups. Yes, this issue annoys me very much so and on a very personal level.

posted on Jun, 21 2008 @ 03:16 AM
sure grammar is not equal to intelligence. im alive example
my english grammar probably is even better than one of my native language.. yet i finished high school and i know programming like some cant imagine knowing all that stuff even after finishing university =D

posted on Jun, 21 2008 @ 03:31 AM
Holy crap!

I just woke up, so excuse me. I wasn't expecting to see so many replies!

First of all, thanks to everyone for their input. I may not respond to each and every one of you, but I do read all posts and take them into consideration.

shadow watcher, I agree about the so-called "1337 speak". I don't care if you're presenting solid evidence of life in outer space. I simply will not tolerate a bunch of numbers and symbols as a form of communication, haha. That, in a way, would make me ignorant. Or biased.

AGENT_T, that's true. When somebody claims to be in a "position of high regard", I do expect a certain degree of written maturity. That's a realistic assumption.

trilateral_insignia, sorry about the misunderstanding! The point I made about that person being a mathematical genius had nothing to do with their occupation, haha. Those were seperate facts to point out his merits beyond his flawed grammar. He actually worked as an investigator/detective.

caitlinfae, you're over 40!? Wow, I hope I look as good as you when I reach that age..

Anonymous ATS, I totally agree! The placement of commas and such sits in the punctuation category. An important, yet overlooked, part of grammar.

marg6043, I don't mean to offend anyone who doesn't use English as their first language. Actually, I respect those who make an effort to do so.

eradown, you've hit the nail on the head. When it comes to a forum such as this one, a highly educated person is more capable of presenting a believable lie through written wording.

420prajna, I understand the IQ testing system. However, I don't agree that knowing how to spell every single word in the dictionary should place you above others. You're right about people beings jerks though. I've witnessed so many posters being criticized for their grammar simply because the content they presented wasn't agreed upon.

Rockpuck, everyone is intelligent in their own way. You may not be the greatest writer in the world, but you might be an excellent guitarist or painter. Maybe you are able to solve problems easier than others? BTW, I don't think you're giving yourself enough credit!

IMAdamnALIEN, banned? That's going a bit too far, haha.

Alora, awesome avatar! I've seen examples of people flaming a poster for bad spelling.. with bad spelling, haha. Get it?

argentus, I don't think anyone who makes an effort is less of a person. The story about your college professor brought up an interesting point. Think about the "crazy" people who roam the streets and shout seemingly random gibberish. Nobody takes the time to actually listen to and work out what they're saying. It's a verbal equivalent to poorly presented grammar. The idea is there, but it's not clear.

Threadfall, so Einstein was a moron?

ImaginaryReality1984, yes! I think this thread is making people paranoid, haha.

[edit on 21-6-2008 by Pandapple]

posted on Jun, 21 2008 @ 03:54 AM

Originally posted by Pandapple

ImaginaryReality1984, yes! I think this thread is making people paranoid, haha.

Who would have thought it, paraonoia on a conspiracy based website lol
I'm glad to see it's such a hot topic though, restores my faith in education

posted on Jun, 21 2008 @ 04:07 AM
reply to post by Pandapple

Being able to write clearly and correctly is certainly a positive thing, but I, too, don't think that good grammar has to do a lot with intelligence. Alas, there are too many people who don't speak English as their first language (I am one of them, by the way).

What makes me not to read a post, however, is when there is no structure (i.e. lack of paragraphs or capital letters to differentiate one period from another, even lack of full stops, incoherent writing etc.).


posted on Jun, 21 2008 @ 04:22 AM

Originally posted by Pandapple
shadow watcher, I agree about the so-called "1337 speak". I don't care if you're presenting solid evidence of life in outer space. I simply will not tolerate a bunch of numbers and symbols as a form of communication, haha. That, in a way, would make me ignorant. Or biased.

If you knew the true story behind 1337 speak maybe you would appreciate it more?

0nce upon a time there was a device called a "pager". The very first few on the market would only allow you to leave a call back number, and not letters or numbers like todays advanced devices. This is when the geniuses turned numbers into letters.


1 011117 4011



I know this is against the T&C to type like that, but really its good knowledge to have when you ever need to speak when no 0ne is paying attention.

12 11 0 15?
R U O K?

17 3 9 2 7 1 11 3
N e g a t i v e

posted on Jun, 21 2008 @ 04:24 AM
I amend my previous statement. A spell checker would be the highest intelligence on the planet.

As far as spelling goes, I believe that there are around 16 different copys of shakespear's signature in existence today, I have been told that every one is spelled differently to convey a different meaning.

What a shame that the ridged and inflexable saw fit to stagnate the language and reduce it to a combination laundry list and jigsaw puzzle of definitions which if analyzed only result in relatively differentiated word associations and confusion.

help: to give assistance or support to
assistance: the act of assisting or the help supplied
support: to endure bravely or quietly
endure: to undergo (as a hardship) especially without giving in
undergo: to submit to
submit: to yield to governance or authority

So anyone can plainly see that to help a child is to submit to their governance or authority!

Now I have a question for you, what makes you think that humans posess intelligence?

What is intelligence?

Main Entry: in·tel·li·gence
Pronunciation: \in-ˈte-lə-jən(t)s\
Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English, from Middle French, from Latin intelligentia, from intelligent-, intelligens intelligent
Date: 14th century
1 a (1): the ability to learn or understand or to deal with new or trying situations : reason; also : the skilled use of reason (2): the ability to apply knowledge to manipulate one's environment or to think abstractly as measured by objective criteria (as tests) bChristian Science : the basic eternal quality of divine Mind c: mental acuteness : shrewdness
2 a: an intelligent entity; especially : angel b: intelligent minds or mind
3: the act of understanding : comprehension
4 a: information, news b: information concerning an enemy or possible enemy or an area; also : an agency engaged in obtaining such information
5: the ability to perform computer functions

I submit to you that I look at that definition and I cannot even find a coherant pattern in it's variations. The exercise of extending it to the definition of it's defining words would be best left undone.

So in conclusion I propose that this grammar you favor should not be used to define intelligence, measure intelligence or in any way be allowed to be associated with intelligence.

We would be better served if we allowed the intelligent to recognize one another, as they apparently did before this standardization craze abberated the minds of humanity.

All standards of measure for the quality should be cast aside, and a simple summation of the esteem of piers should be the order of the day.

Thank you!

I chose not to run spell checker against this, as it seemed inappropriate somehow. My apologies to anyone offended by my incorrectitudes.

posted on Jun, 21 2008 @ 04:40 AM
The content of what is being said is all that should truly matter. We should not judge a book by its cover.

posted on Jun, 21 2008 @ 04:46 AM
I find it hard to type. Although my hand written English is exceptional, im one of those who can't stand in one place for longer then a minute, so i re-read my post and if it makes enough sense i post it, even though it may have several mess ups.

I strongly agree, not everyone is perfect=this is what makes us humans, secondly English is not something that must be written properly to be intelligent. What about people who can't even speak English, who are Japanese engineers, or Italian Engineers who make Lamborghini's and Ferrari's.

Or what about people like i know who can speak 6 languages, and write 4 of them, that takes lots of intelligence.

I know guys from Asia in my university who can barely save their lives to make a friend who speaks English and have atrocious written English, and use Japanese computers that translate English to them, are the same ones with honor scholarships and 98% averages.

And since we are on the topic, these Aliens are 1000000 years advanced then us and they can't speak English, so are they dumb, i think not.

we must not judge, but be the panel of understanding persons.

posted on Jun, 21 2008 @ 04:52 AM
I don't see bad grammar as a sign of a lack of intelligence. I do however find text-talking and lack of capitalization as a sign of laziness. I am not a grammar fanatic- but I am one about basic writing rules- I allow for dyslexia and transposing letters, as long as there aren't too many spelling mistakes.

If English is your second language you're off the hook- I appreciate anyone at least trying to communicate with me in my native language. But if English is your first language and you type like this:

i decided to stay home tonight because I wanted to watch american gladiators lol

... chances are I am not going to take you seriously, or bother reading anymore of your writing.

**Editted for a grammar mistake**

[edit on 6/21/2008 by GetOutOfMyRabbitHole]

posted on Jun, 21 2008 @ 06:14 AM
Sometimes, people go to great lengths to sound smart with spelling and grammar when really they have no idea what they are talking about

-Notitia est Potestas; Denego Ignarus.

posted on Jun, 21 2008 @ 06:40 AM
Probably my English grammar is not always perfect. But English is not my first language and I speak 4 languages in total (Dutch, German, English and French). I don’t know if there are a lot of people in the UK or US who speak 4 languages. But probably their grammar in other languages is also not perfect

Of course I try to post the comments in good English at ATS

[edit on 21-6-2008 by lightyears]

posted on Jun, 21 2008 @ 07:28 AM
Descriptive Grammar vs. Prescriptive Grammar

This is a bit technical, but if you take the time to read it you may find it explains a lot about the subject of this thread.

* * *

The cognitive scientist and experimental psychologist Steven Pinker makes a powerful case that, while we must all learn the languages we speak, the ability to learn and speak language is instinctive in humans.

All languages, he argues, are based on the same metagrammar or deep structure*. For example, all languages have subjects, verbs, objects, and so on, and all languages combine these different kinds of word together into the same larger groupings (participle, noun and verb phrases, sentences, etc.) The rules of combining them vary from language to language, but the combinations are always there.

Pinker says this metagrammar is built into us, part of the operating software bundled into every human brain. With the exception of a few unfortunate indiviudals in whom the software doesn't work properly because of a genetic defect, brain damage, etc., every human being is, by definition, a grammatical genius.

However, this kind of grammar is 'descriptive': it shows how we relate concepts to concepts and how words are put together to articulate those concepts and relations. It says nothing about whether a certain commonplace usage ('different to', for example), is more or less correct than another ('different from').

By the rules of descriptive grammar, it doesn't matter whether you say 'who' when you mean 'whom', or 'Sheherazade and I' when you mean 'Sheherazade and me', whether you split an infinitive or preserve it in aspic. It makes no difference whether you adopt the forms and vocabulary of a BBC newsreader, a South Indian civil servant, an American teenager or the boys in the 'hood. It doesn't even matter whether you pepper your sentences with meaningless vocalizations like 'you see' and 'like, man', or speak in distinct, well-rounded periods: you are still following the rules of the metagrammar perfectly. The proof of it is that other people can understand what you say.

However, many languages also have a 'prescriptive' grammar - a convention that has developed over time (though it is always changing) and specifies the 'right' and 'wrong' use of words and the 'proper' way to arrange them in phrases or sentences. This is the grammar you learn in school. Expertise in the deployment of prescriptive grammar is what we are discussing in this thread.

I don't think expertise with grammar, either descriptive or prescriptive, is a very reliable indicator of general intelligence. Taking descriptive grammar first, there are people with a genetic condition called Specific Language Impairment who don't seem to grasp the rules underlying grammar, and whose speech is confusingly muddled, even gibberish, but who could be experts in mathematics, computing and other demandingly intellectual fields. There are children with Williams' Syndrome whose grammar is perfect and whose speech sounds delightfully creative to a lover of language, yet who may be significantly retarded, with IQs as low as 50. Stroke or head-injury victims with Broca's aphasia can sound retarded, yet it is perfectly clear that they are just as intelligent as they always were, and are struggling in great frustration to express themselves. Their 'language module' is damaged, but their intellects are not.

As for prescriptive grammar -- it's a snob thing, really, isn't it? We identify people's educational background and social class from the way they speak and write. It's a way of establishing power relations - the pecking order - among people in a given society. We associate 'proper grammar' with authority - religious, academic and political (forget Bush; think Lincoln or Churchill) - and are therefore more inclined to take seriously what is said 'properly'.

I suppose you could argue that it takes more time and trouble to learn and use correct prescriptive grammar, and hence that people who are able to do so must be fast learners, or have cerebral processing capacity to spare, but the argument strikes me as specious. If you have intelligence to spare, why not use it intelligently and learn a new skill or even a new language, instead of wasting time learning and following these pointless and unhelpful prescriptive rules?

Learning to 'speak right' is a bit of a waste of time; what is important is making oneself understood.

* * *

Notwithstanding all of the above, there are some fearsome linguistic atrocities perpetrated on ATS, but they are not the ones the language mavens (Pinker's term) keep harping upon. They are mostly errors of transcription - spelling errors - that at best confuse the reader and at worst reduce the sentence to gibberish.

A few examples are

  • the confusion of 'its' and 'it's'
  • the confusion of 'they're', 'their' and 'there'
  • the mixup of 'where', 'were' and 'we are'
  • puntuation, that makes. Word salad; out of: a. Sentence,
These errors are atrocious, not because they are ugly (though they are), but because they inhibit understanding. And while everyone can make such mistakes now and then, habitual carelessness with such common, simple and very important words implies that the writer is either too stupid to work out the differences between them, or too stupid to care whether the readers he is writing for understand him or not.

* * *

It may have occurred to you that I am defending infinitive-splitters, careless users of case and tense and transformers of nouns into verbs ('parenting', etc.) in a post that follows punctiliously the rules insisted upon by English grammarians. Well, that's just the way I like it. I love language. I love words. I take pleasure in using them 'correctly' and also in pushing the envelope of what might be thought correct. I like speaking and writing as well as I can; in fact, I make my living from it. Writing is my profession. I am also, I cheerfully confess, a thoroughgoing elitist who greatly enjoys the social advantages conferred on me by my facility with the English language.

However, I'm not stupid enough to believe my abilities with language make me more intelligent, or in any way better, than anyone else. And if I ever find myself getting too uppity, all I have to do is read a few paragraphs of Shakespeare, Milton, Gibbon, Conrad, Nabokov or Amis fils and I am put firmly back in my place.

*I use Chomsky's term, though the meaning of it is rather hard to pin down, since different linguists (and Chomsky himself, over the years) seem to use it to mean different things.

Further reading: Steven Pinker, The Language Instinct

[edit on 21-6-2008 by Astyanax]

posted on Jun, 21 2008 @ 09:13 AM
This is funny though... someone call another an idiot and debate about his intellectual capabilities and that very same person whom's trying to act intelligent cuz they can remember countless rules of grammar arent even intelligent enough to draw the line between memory capabilities and actual brain processing power.... there's a huge line between memory aptitudes and the ability to your brain to analyse,assimilate and comprehend various forms or amount of data...

Whomever thinks good grammar = very intelligent person well Einstein s**** in school yet I dare any of you grammar dictators to say your IQ's higher then the man....

posted on Jun, 21 2008 @ 09:44 AM
I think we're barking up the wrong tree if we try to equate grammar with intelligence.

Have a peek at the stats for May (below) where we can see that thousands are surfing and posting on ATS from a number of countries that don't have English as their first language. Try speaking English in France. They'll give you a look as though you're an ET from Alpha Centauri! Does that mean they are uneducated imbeciles?

Don't worry guys, be happy! Bash on regardless!


posted on Jun, 21 2008 @ 09:58 AM

Originally posted by Astyanax
Learning to 'speak right' is a bit of a waste of time; what is important is making oneself understood.

Your entire post is great, and I think this one sentence sums it up very well.

Be understandable. I'm generally tolerant of misspelled words, oddly placed punctuation, or other mistakes that can result from trying to get an idea into words very quickly.

I'm particular about just a few "guidelines".

    Use uppercase at the beginning of your sentence.

    Clearly end your sentence with a period (.).

    Break your thoughts up into easily read "chunks"--sorta' like paragraphs.

Grammar and punctuation in themselves aren't the best measures of intelligence; heck, the computer can do that and it can't even make an omelette. The inability to make yourself understood does appear to be a decent indication of, at the minimum, how much you care.

Oh, and please.....should've is not "should of"'s "should have".

posted on Jun, 21 2008 @ 10:50 AM
Yes, I am human and make grammar mistakes now and again - like the rest of us - but I do point out to members that basic grammar and punctuation is a virtue.

Example: The task of reading a post, especially at great length, can become difficult if the post contains no full stops and is one giant paragraph. It is not discourteous to recommend making posts easier to read.

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