[Updated September 7, 2012]

What do you think makes a writing specialist professional want to tear out [thanks, Joyce] her hair?  Subject-verb disagreement? No. Business reports with double-spaced text? No. Plagiarism? Not really. Students who write emails to pros in text-message style?  OK, maybe a little. But the REAL frustration is the widespread incompetence of people who claim to be writing “specialists.” And the inability of non-specialistsexperts to recognize them.

Want an example? Head over to Linguischtik and read today’s post, which is a review of a book about writing:

The Grammar Crammer has some jaw-droppingly crazy material. . . Do they have any idea what they are talking about? I’ve never seen such a confused mess. Even students in my intro classes don’t write garbage like this. In the future, the correct order to do things in is to learn something about language, then write a book on it.

This is not hyperbole. For example, the author of Grammar Crammer wrote, “The complex sentence is a wonderful invention of modern writers.” Huh [ shaking head until my brains rattle]? Surely, even non-specialistsexperts must wonder about this claim. There are many more examples. Here’s the comment I left for Linguischtik after reading the review.

I’m resisting the urge to run screaming through the streets out of utter exasperation. It doesn’t do any good to hold book publishers accountable. They have no morals. [I did just realize the book’s publisher is listed as University of Wisconsin Press!] But shouldn’t somebody somewhere along the way have noticed that the author is unqualified as an expert on language. And told someone else?!

It will be depressing, but you can see from her bio page at http://booksthatteach.com/bios.htm that she’s made a career out of telling people how to write. She also authored “12 Ways to Help You Wins [sic] A’s,” in Seventeen magazine and “How to Get a College Degree at Home,” in Playgirl. Her work (with a co-author) is listed as part of the Archive of American History at the University of Wyoming.

Is it 5:00 somewhere?