Being in the communications racket may make me a little more sensitive to intelligibility than most. And I may have a slight hyper-percipience when it comes to perceptions of linguistic decorum. But there are some occasions on which you just can’t help but wonder: “Did the yo-yo who sent this message pay any attention to what he was doing at all?” Case in point:

In response to a series of emails I recently sent to a client about trying to schedule a conference call — all of which he’d ignored — I finally managed to coax this reply from him. Yes, it’s true. Yes, it’s verbatim. Yes, every syntactical, grammatical, punctuation, and spelling error is presented here intact:

i been peroccupied with dicks let’s get together soon

The gentleman who authored that reply is a native speaker of English. He purports to have two bachelors degrees and an MBA from three different U.S. universities. He’s been a full-time member of the U.S. workforce for 31 years. In the position he presently holds, his title is Senior Vice President. Given all that, I didn’t know whether to be more concerned about the gentleman, the universities he ostensibly attended, the company that employs him, or the implications of his email. But make no mistake: I was gravely concerned.

I decided to approach the matter cautiously. When I wrote back to him, I sheepishly inquired, “Did you mean to write preoccupied?”


Oh no. It took me a full two weeks to muster the nerve, but I finally wrote again: “Did you really mean dicks?”


Given the way people seem to be identifying of late, I veritably swooned. It couldn’t be that … no. It wasn’t possible. But how could I be sure? I booked a month-long stay at Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Manly Man Camp, got daily injections of testosterone, drank beer, swore like a trooper, spat profusely, and read Lady Chatterly’s Lover eight times. On returning home, I strode to my computer boldly and typed, “Why do you want to get together?”

to tlak about dicks sproting guds our new ackount

I was so relieved I sent him a dozen roses, drove straight to his office, and kissed him full on the lips.

Image by rayemond, courtesy of