Global Literacy is Everyone’s Concern

From our friends at Grammarly (written by Brittney Ross)

Our world today is perhaps more text-driven than at any other time in history. In the Digital Age, the ability to read and write can transform lives, families, and even whole communities. Since UNESCO celebrated the very first International Literacy Day on September 8, 1966, the plight of millions of people around the world has improved through programs dedicated to helping marginalized populations become literate. But there is still a long way to go.

Illiteracy is more than just a lack of reading skills. Around the world, it is a clear predictor of poverty, illness, and disempowerment. It’s not a problem confined to the developing world, either. Even in the United States, there are thirty-two million adults who cannot read, according to the U.S. Department of Education.

To celebrate International Literacy Day and help raise awareness about the importance of literacy, we have gathered the latest literacy statistics from around the world into an infographic.

Literacy-Day

via https://www.grammarly.com/plagiarism-checker

Guest Post From Grammarly: Common Grammar Mistakes

By Nikolas Baron of Grammarly.com

Every writer makes mistakes. It’s impossible not to do. When you begin a book, poem, short story, novella, article, or writing exercise, you want to get everything down on the page. If there’s a quick burst of genius, you’ll stop at nothing to ride the burst out. Even if you’re the type of writer who edits while you write, mistakes are imminent. However, grammar mistakes are sometimes the most difficult types of mistakes to overcome. There are writers I’ve talked to who still have trouble with who and whom, lay and lie, and affect and effect. Through my research and discussions with editors, writers, bloggers, and English professors, I’ve discovered five of the most common grammar mistakes and how to avoid them.

Owl_Who1) Who and Whom: Let’s first break down the part of speech for each of these words. “Who” is a subject/nominative pronoun (he, she, it, we, they, etc.) and acts as the subject of a clause. “Whom” is an objective pronoun (him, her, it, us, them, etc.) and acts as the object of a clause. When you’re trying to decide which to use, think about if you’re referring to the subject or the object of the sentence. Another technique that works quite well is replacing the “who” or “whom” of the sentence with another pronoun. For example, one can substitute the sentence “Who went to get ice cream?” with “She went to get ice cream.” A person can also say, “You gave the last ice cream to whom?” or “I gave the last ice cream to him.”

2) Which and That: This is a mistake that I see almost on a daily basis. Whether it is in an email, a flyer, a Facebook status post, a tweet, or a newspaper, it’s everywhere. Looking at the part of speech in these instances can really help break down and explain the problem. Simply put, “that” is a restrictive pronoun, and “which” introduces a relative clause. “That” restricts while “which” qualifies. Moreover, “which” can also be used in restrictive clauses. Consider the following examples: a) “I really want that elephant from the circus.” b) “Which elephant do you want?” c) “I want the elephant that only eats peanuts.” d) “Many elephants eat peanuts, which make for an excellent source of protein in their diet.”

3) Lay and Lie: This is by far the trickiest mistake of them all. I had a professor in college who changed his license plate in order to make a point about the use of “lay” and “lie.” “Lay” is a transitive verb while “Lie” is an intransitive verb. “Lay” requires a direct subject and one or more objects while “Lie” needs no object. “Lie” is the present tense while “Lay” is the past tense. The major issue of concern usually comes into play when a writer is using the past tense of “Lay” such as, he laid on the bed. What the writer actually means is, he lay on the bed. Here are some further examples: I lay the book on the floor; Last week, I laid on the floor of the gym after a hard run; The chocolate bars lie between the Sour Patch Kids and the marshmallows.

Proofread4) Whether and If: One of the major qualms with “Whether” vs. “If” is the belief that they are interchangeable. They are not. “Whether” expresses a condition where there are two or more alternatives while “If” is a condition where there are no alternatives. Take the following sentences as examples of proper use: Whether or not I go to class is dependent on the weather. If I go to class, there may be a pop quiz, though.

5) Affect and Effect: “Affect” vs. “Effect” is another daily issue for me. “Affect” is typically a verb where “Effect” is typically a noun. What helps the most is the definitions of these words, though. Affect: To act on; produce an effect or change in. Effect: Something that is produced by an agency or cause; consequence; influence. Some examples: His failure to prove the effects of his science experiment affected his mood. Sarah’s bad attitude affected her coworker, Jane, which caused a negative effect on the amount of work she got done.

There are still many more grammar mistakes, but these are by far the most common among writers. Additional resources can be used to check for these mistakes, as well. Grammarly, an online grammar check resource, can catch errors that Microsoft Word misses and can help you identify your most common mistakes. Save yourself and your editors some time by using an online resource to grammar check and take the time to learn proper grammar so as to avoid these mistakes in the future.

 

Nik-Baron-615x410Nikolas discovered his love for the written word in Elementary School, where he started spending his afternoons sprawled across the living room floor devouring one Marc Brown childrens’ novel after the other and writing short stories about daring pirate adventures. After acquiring some experience in various marketing, business development, and hiring roles at internet startups in a few different countries, he decided to re-unite his professional life with his childhood passions by joining Grammarly’s marketing team in San Francisco. He has the pleasure of being tasked with talking to writers, bloggers, teachers, and others about how they use Grammarly’s online proofreading application to improve their writing. His free time is spent biking, travelling, and reading.

Guest Post from Grammarly: Using Technology to Complete a Novel at Warp-Speed

We at Mindbuck Media are pleased as the proverbial spiked punch to have Allison VanNest of Grammarly.com provide a guest post for us.

By Allison VanNest, Grammarly.com

Over the last decade, technology has changed just about every part of our lives. From smart phones and tablets to ever-present Wi-Fi and HDTV, the list of incredible technological advances goes on and on. However, one area that technology hasn’t seemed to touch is novel writing. A proper novel will always require a dedicated author working tirelessly to develop a story and to bring compelling characters to life.

Technology doesn’t really figure in to the novel writing process.

Or does it?

GrammoWriMo LogoIn November, Grammarly debuted GrammoWriMo, a spinoff of National Novel Writing Month. As part of this project, hundreds of writers signed up to co-write a single 50,000-word novel. While this is would be a daunting project for any single writer to complete in 30 days, Grammarly’s writers knew that they were up for the task if they did it together.

And they were right. Although more than 300,000 people signed up for NaNoWriMo in 2013, only 41,940 novels were actually completed. Clocking in at a total of 130,927 unedited words, the GrammoWriMo group novel was among them!

Over the next few years, technology will drastically change the way that we communicate in writing. Grammarly is at the forefront of this change – having already created a project to make the writing process both social and democratic.

The response to GrammoWriMo was overwhelming:

  • Thousands of people participated in surveys to determine the plot of the group novel and submit potential cover art; 287 writers ultimately contributed to the project
  • Writers from 27 countries – and 44 U.S. states – contributed an average of 580 words each to the group novel
  • 70 percent of GrammoWriMo participants have a personal blog, and an impressive 55 percent have been published online at some point

Naturally, there are some hurdles to clear when trying to bring together a project of this size in such a short amount of time. Two of the biggest challenges that the Grammarly team faced were organization and cohesion.

WriteOnNaNoWriMoGetting organized

To make GrammoWriMo work, Grammarly divided writers into groups (around 25 people per chapter) that were assigned to work simultaneously on each of the novel’s 30 chapters. Each writer within each group was assigned a specific day on which to write. Writers built on the work of those before them until the chapter was finished and each author has applied his or her own touch to the manuscript.

Technology played a large role in making this kind of organization possible. A Google Doc was assigned to each chapter-group, so writers could easily access the growing document without having to pass around email attachments. Also, individual Facebook groups were established for each chapter so they could quickly and easily communicate and problem-solve along the way.

lonely wishgiverCreating a cohesive novel

Each of the 30 chapters was written simultaneously, so writers had to pay close attention to the outline created for their own chapter, as well as the plot points introduced in chapters before and after them. For this to work, the entire book had to be outlined in advance of the project so writers working on later chapters would have an idea of what would be appearing in the earlier pages of the novel.

A very specific and detailed plot summary was provided to all writers, highlighting the purpose and direction of each individual chapter. This document was continuously updated by the Grammarly team and established the main characters and storyline while allowing for some freedom of creativity for the writers themselves.

What do you think?

Is this project likely to change the way novels are written from this day forward? No – probably not. However, it is an exciting demonstration of how technology can bring people and ideas together with a common goal. No longer is the process of writing a novel limited to a solitary writer banging away on a keyboard until the story is complete. Projects like GrammoWriMo prove that innovative thinking can bring new solutions to age-old challenges.

Would you co-write a novel with 300 other people? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

AllieA self-proclaimed word nerd, Allison VanNest works with Grammarly to help perfect written English. Connect with Allie, the Grammarly team, and more than ONE MILLION Grammarly Facebook fans at http://www.facebook.com/grammarly.