“No Younger People Need Apply”

by Robert Pondiscio
November 27th, 2012

The following help wanted ad appears on Craigslist in Portland, Oregon.

Editor needed…over 70 yrs. old (NOT an EMPLOYEE)


Date: 2012-11-11, 9:39AM PST
qqqrc-3402235700@job.craigslist.org[Errors when replying to ads?]


EDITOR NEEDED FOR LARGE NUMBER OF SHORT STORIES: Must be 70 years old (or older if adequately lucid) THIS IS NOT AN AD FOR AN “EMPLOYEE OR A CONTRACTOR” – AND…NO YOUNGER PEOPLE NEED APPLY! “Why? Simply because I advertised before, received 117 responses. . .and NONE were sufficiently conversant with the English language to achieve an acceptable level of editing. It appears that a preponderance of younger people have not been taught correct grammar and satisfactory writing skills. I have absolutely no interest in going through that exercise again. ENOUGH SAID!…And spare me your castigating comments! It is a waste of your time and mine.

(via jimromanesko.com)

15 Comments »

  1. Funny, but why is it always the teacher’s fault? I swear, we do teach grammar and writing, but not everyone gets it. It’s hard to write well, hard to be a good editor. We don’t expect every kid to be good at calculus, do we?
    I’m appalled at the way some of the primary teachers I supervise write. Every year I reteach them basics such as avoiding passive voice and nominalization. I implore them to write simply: subject, verb, object. I remind them about audience, beg them to proofread carefully. And every year I get the same clunky, unclear reports from them. But they’re wonderful with their young students, even if their writing is uninspired.
    And you know, I bet that cranky Craigslist poster can’t figure out how to use his iPhone!

    Comment by Robin — November 27, 2012 @ 8:49 pm

  2. I should add that the secondary English teachers I supervise are wonderful writers–and they’re all young.

    Comment by Robin — November 27, 2012 @ 9:13 pm

  3. I’ll mail an autographed copy of “Cultural Literacy” to the first respondent who points out the grammatical error(s) in this pompous ad!

    Don Hirsch

    Comment by E D Hirsch — November 28, 2012 @ 12:14 am

  4. Corrections are in brackets:

    EDITOR NEEDED FOR LARGE NUMBER OF SHORT STORIES: Must be 70 [Numbers lower than a hundred should be written out.] years old (or older if adequately lucid)[period] THIS IS NOT AN AD FOR AN “EMPLOYEE OR A CONTRACTOR” [quotes would logically go around the individual words here]- AND [strange dash, anyway, but another one would go here, not an ellipsis]…[space]NO YOUNGER PEOPLE NEED APPLY! “Why? [What's with the lonely quotation mark?] Simply because I advertised before, received 117 responses[space]. . .[space]and NONE were sufficiently conversant with the English language to achieve [If not incorrect, "sufficiently conversant to achieve" is certainly awkward] an acceptable level of editing. It appears that a preponderance of younger people have ["Preponderance" takes singular or plural, so "have" is okay.] not been taught correct grammar and satisfactory writing skills. I have absolutely no interest in going through that [vague reference] exercise again. ENOUGH SAID![Ellipsis needs proper spacing, if needed at all.]…And spare me your castigating comments! It is [they are] a waste of your time and mine.

    Comment by Angie B. — November 28, 2012 @ 12:06 pm

  5. Brava, Angie. Er….how old are you? ;-)

    Comment by Robert Pondiscio — November 28, 2012 @ 12:07 pm

  6. I am younger than seventy, for sure. :-)

    Comment by Angie B. — November 28, 2012 @ 12:09 pm

  7. Sure, Don, but note that he is admitting a need for an editor.

    I taught physics for 38 years and our entire English department couldn’t edit an article for love nor money.

    They once mailed a letter to parents of sophomore students to explain the details pertaining to the required term paper in Expository Writing. The letter had four grammatical errors and three misspelled words including “Expository”.

    Comment by ewaldoh — November 28, 2012 @ 12:25 pm

  8. I would say not enough grammar is actually taught or has been taught for a number of years. What I see is a lot of journaling a belief by reading literature that a kid will get it. For many kids this is just not enough. I know I have brought it up multiple times with teacher that use the workshop method. This article was previously profiled on this blog but does a good job of highlighting failures in teaching grammar.

    The Writing Revolution

    For years, nothing seemed capable of turning around New Dorp High School’s dismal performance—not firing bad teachers, not flashy education technology, not after-school programs. So, faced with closure, the school’s principal went all-in on a very specific curriculum reform, placing an overwhelming focus on teaching the basics of analytic writing, every day, in virtually every class. What followed was an extraordinary blossoming of student potential, across nearly every subject—one that has made New Dorp a model for educational reform.

    http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2012/10/the-writing-revolution/309090/

    Comment by DC Parent — November 28, 2012 @ 12:27 pm

  9. In addition to the ones listed above, the most glaring grammatical error to me is “NONE were.” (Subject-verb number disagreement) Further, the construction of that sentence is downright illogical. How could the responses (or none of them) be conversant with the English language, or any language for that matter? I suppose if the person who wrote the ad was good at editing, there would be no job opening. And, before you ask, I am younger than 70, but definitely not young.

    Comment by Cynthia Gadol — November 28, 2012 @ 12:47 pm

  10. Angie, I view your comments as copy-editing improvements rather than straight grammatical corrections. The grammatical prize goes to Cynthia. But I’ll send both of you copies of CL if you send your addresses to my email address: edh9k@aol.com.

    Rules for American standard written English are more pedantic than British rules. The Brits allow “none are” — even encourage it.

    Don

    Comment by E D Hirsch — November 28, 2012 @ 1:17 pm

  11. Thank you. I’d love that.

    Comment by Angie B. — November 28, 2012 @ 1:25 pm

  12. Thank you, Dr. Hirsch. My original copy from the eighties is pretty worn out.

    Comment by Cynthia Gadol — November 28, 2012 @ 3:35 pm

  13. Everyone has the rights to choose such employees as he or she wants. If an employer specifies “over 70″ for me this is enough – no grudge kept, no comments necessary, no questions should be asked. Please, cut the malicious comments here…

    Comment by Polish translator — November 30, 2012 @ 7:04 am

  14. My last semester of ROTC as an undergrad, we soon-to-be second Lieutenants had to take the Air Force’s ‘Effective Writing Course,’ which we called derisively the ‘DEFECTIVE Writing Course.

    Well, as it turned out this class was one of the best language instruction courses I ever received; it’s main tenets were: 1) Keep it simple; 2) Get to the point in your correspondence; and 3) use ACTIVE VOICE AS OFTEN AS POSSIBLE.

    What was so humorously frustrating as a junior officer was writing these memo drafts for senior officers in such clean, crisp language, only to have them mutate to these passive voice-laden, bureaucratic speak monstrosities as they moved up the chain of command for signature. What a metaphor for how an aircraft system would start out neat, purposeful, and ‘cheap,’ and end up too heavy, too slow, and over budget; I guess that’s another story for another blog.

    Comment by Peter Ford — November 30, 2012 @ 8:55 am

  15. I’m a bit late to this post, but I feel compelled to respond to some of the comments concerning grammar. Personally, I like the writer’s tone and see very little wrong with the ad. It is COLLOQUIAL, not formal English. It is on CRAIGSLIST, not a scholarly journal. To me, he sounds like a short-story writer with a sense of humor. The writer uses all-caps and the exclamation mark to emphasize his exasperation. He uses ellipsis to signify his pause…for dramatic effect. The lack of spaces before and after the ellipses is incorrect in print, but does it really make a difference on Craigslist? He did forget the quotation mark after “Why?” However, the indefinite pronoun “NONE” is absolutely correct. It refers to the noun “responses”, so it takes a plural verb. Perhaps he should have used “respondents” to be more specific, but his meaning is still clear. I do not agree that “that exercise” is vague. It clearly refers to the prior experience he has just described. His pronoun “It”, referring to “catigating comments” is faulty, but the meaning is clear. I guess his humor was lost on some of the above commenters. You probably would not like reading the short stories anyway.

    Comment by Michael Wall — December 16, 2012 @ 12:07 pm

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