NEWS FLASH – DOGS CAN READ!

…at least that’s the inescapable conclusion I came to when I opened Sunday’s newspaper.

I spend a lot of time thinking about writing, and on occasion, I’ll spot something relevant in the paper that’s worth sharing. Today’s subject isn’t an article or an editorial. I found it in the coupon circular. It’s an ad for a new product called Fortune Snookies – doggie cookie snacks. Each one has something written on it, like those candy hearts you see around Valentine’s Day that say BE MINE or I LOVE YOU. Only these say things like “the bark stops here” or “I only fetch Snookies.”

I know you’re going to say that this product is aimed at the human who actually goes to the supermarket and shells out the money. But I am convinced that the manufacturer truly intends for the cookies to be read by DOGS! Because right there in the ad, in big bold print, it says: “WOW! Different fortunes in every box. Read ‘em and eat ‘em!” So what other conclusion can I draw?

Still, I’m left with a few questions:

1) The ad includes a coupon for $2.00 off. If they’re willing to knock $2.00 off the price, just how much do these things cost? The package is only 8.4 ounces. By my calculation, that makes the price at least $4.00 per pound. I can buy top sirloin steak on sale for $2.77 per pound. It may not have anything written on it, but we’re talking about a treat here. If I were a dog, which one would wake up my salivary glands – cookies or steak?

2) If, as I conclude above, the messages are intended for dogs, wouldn’t your pooch have to be very near-sighted to read them while his nose is in the bowl? Are these cookies going to spawn a whole new industry in doggie reading glasses? Will we be seeing doggie optometrists selling fashion eye-wear for Fido? What if you’re just tossing the cookies to him one by one? Can he read them on the fly? These are some practical considerations that don’t appear to have been addressed by the manufacturer.

3) Some of the messages shown in the ad are “Life is Like a Box of Snookies” and “You Had Me at HERE BOY.” When was the last time your dog sat through Forrest Gump or Jerry McGuire?

4) Why are these things in English? It’s highly disputed whether dogs understand English at all. Wouldn’t it make more sense to print WOOF, or RUFF RUFF, or YIP on the cookies? If these messages are supposed to be amusing, how’s poor Fluffy supposed to get the joke if the cookie is written in a foreign language? It’s just not fair.

I think I have to write to the CCLU (Canine Civil Liberties Union) about this.

Hey, Bowser! Come here and translate this for me.

Even I need help with writing sometimes!

Advertisements
Published in: on August 28, 2006 at 6:21 pm  Comments (9)  

Sometimes, the Old Ways are Better

The educational system is failing our kids and fueling some serious problems that are already showing up in the workplace. In a Letter to the Editor that appeared in today’s Orange County Register, Diane Singer makes these comments:

Standardized tests do not measure learning. Our schools train kids to take tests.

Parents should be furious that valuable instructional hours are wasted on a test-crazy movement that robs our kids of real learning and critical thinking opportunities. Sure the scores are higher; but can the child apply this knowledge, synthesize information, write a sentence or solve a math problem outside the classroom in the years to come?

We are already starting to see the effects in our colleges and in the workforce; kids who cannot write, perform basic math or think through a problem. We are on the verge of realizing a generation of children who lack basic academic and critical-thinking skills because they did not have the advantage of a learning-centered curriculum. What then?

You said it, Diane!

This very problem is something I’ve been writing about in my business blog “Writing English.” I offer a remedy that can be applied in the workplace. Companies can hire me to work directly with their employees as a “writing fixer-upper.” I review, edit, and help formulate the correspondence and documents employees need to produce. I solve the problem of bad writing for my clients, but it’s after the fact.

If anybody is seriously interested in solving the problem at its root, what is needed is a turnabout in the philosophy of education. Schools should be focusing on basic skills, core knowledge, and high standards. Pop-psych theories about self-esteem, union-driven policies that make it nearly impossible to get rid of ineffective teachers, and political correctness that wastes hours of class time dealing with all sorts of multi-cultural topics, all come at the expense of the “Three Rs.” They all contribute to the void that becomes evident after graduation when students venture out into the world.

At the risk of sounding like your grandmother, when I was in school we also had standardized tests. We had to pass a State Regents exam in every major high school subject in order to graduate. We weren’t trained how to take the test. We were just taught the coursework, and because we had to meet high standards, most of us passed the tests. We never heard of adults who couldn’t write a cogent sentence, or do basic math problems.

Last week I went to the grocery store for a few items. I bought only three things, costing $2.41, $3.45, and $1.60. I was in a hurry, so while I was waiting in line, I did the addition in my head, and took out my money. It so happened that I had exact change. When the cashier rang up my order, I already had $7.46 in my hand. The bagger, a young girl, was amazed that I knew the cost. “How did you do that?” she said. “You must be a genius.” “No,” I told her, “just old.” (In reality, I’m middle-aged, but in comparison to that girl, I’m ancient.)

Sometimes the old ways are better.

Published in: on August 17, 2006 at 8:40 pm  Comments (13)  

Come Take a Look…

writing1.jpgThose of you who read this site may be interested in taking a look at my new blog Writing English – The International Language of Business (click here). Whereas Rose Petals is my fun blog, Writing English is about my business as a “writing repair” specialist. In short, I’m a writing fixer-upper for people who need a little (or a lot of) help with their writing.

I invite a dialogue with other business owners, or anybody who cares about good writing. Perhaps you’ll join in.

Hope to see you there,

Judy Rose

________________________________

Key Concepts: assisting management, basic skills, business writing, clients, communication, conflicts, consultant, customer communi- cation, customer relations, disputes, education, effective communi- cation, employee communication, employee support services, English, English writing, formulation of text, getting clients, grammar, international companies, language, lawsuits, marketing, organization of text, sales, sales pitch, small business, spelling, text, time-saving, writing, writing errors, writing mistakes, writing repair, writing skills.

Published in: on August 10, 2006 at 11:52 pm  Leave a Comment  

No Need to Learn English

Yet another reason why immigrants needn’t bother to learn English…

Today’s Orange County Register tells of a Spanish Language school where Korean business owners are learning Spanish (click here for complete article).

…mostly middle-age Korean students…are taking language lessons at the Martin Spanish College. Many are small-business owners who do not speak English.

How can you fault them for choosing to put their effort into learning Spanish instead of English? It’s a very practical decision for them, and just another sad indicator of where we’re headed.

The school’s founder, Martin Paik, taught Spanish to Koreans in Buenos Aires, Asuncion, Paraguay and Los Angeles. In 1997, he established a language school in Southern California and now teaches 120 students in Los Angeles and Orange County.

“It’s imperative to know Spanish nowadays,” Paik said in Korean. “Here in California, lots of Koreans work with Hispanic customers and employees. If you can’t speak Spanish, you can’t do business well.”

Paik never learned English. He said he’s been too busy teaching Spanish.

Posted by judyrose July 11, 2006

Published in: on July 12, 2006 at 2:50 am  Comments (5)  

Writing Errors Do Damage

I saw two things in the Business section of today’s Orange County Register that lifted my spirits. Both support points I try to make in my business as a provider of writing assistance services. In his column (click here), Stephen Wilbers talks about the impact of writing errors. He says:

Big errors are damaging. Small errors are distracting. Big errors undermine your credibility. They’re the kind that nearly every reader notices and some readers never forget. If you make a big error when writing to certain readers, they will put you in a box, tape it shut and place it on a shelf labeled, “Never to be paid attention to again.” Believe me, it’s not a comfortable place to be.

I always tell clients that even small mistakes draw the reader’s attention away from the subject matter and focus it on the errors themselves. Even if they are not severe enough to cause a misunderstanding about what is being said (and all too often, they are), errors still obscure the message and detract from the company’s image. This is especially unfortunate when a company is promoting the superior quality of its products and/or services. The incongruity is obvious.

The second item appears in the “Five Tips” column. Today’s tips on e-mail come from Anthony Sanchez of Waterford Technologies in Irvine, CA. He makes the points that e-mails are valuable business communications, and sometimes, the only record of an approval or an agreement.

I have always maintained that in business, it is just as important to write carefully in e-mails as it is in more formal correspondence. Yet e-mails are often written in informal shorthand and are rarely edited before they go out. When employees have substandard writing skills to begin with, and believe that mistakes don’t count in e-mails, these communications pose a risk to the company if they are not checked first.

Good writing can prevent misunderstandings and inspire customer confidence. It is too important an issue to neglect. Especially here in Southern California, the workforce contains large numbers of people educated in other countries who use English as a second language. Even when they speak and read quite well, writing can still pose a challenge for them. In U.S. education, the basics aren’t stressed as much as they once were, and good writing skills can no longer be taken for granted, even among college graduates. This is the need I try to address in my business, although, sad to say, many executives do not believe that good writing is an ideal worth spending money on. I even had one potential client send me the following:

WE HAVE NO NECCESITY AT THIS MONMENT,PLEASE CONTACT OTHERS.

So I felt good coming across these two items in the paper today. It’s always nice to get validation, even when you already know you’re right.

Published in: on July 3, 2006 at 9:30 pm  Leave a Comment