Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Hacker Grammar Bad

When my sisters and I were growing up, my mom constantly hammered home good grammar and spelling. If we said, “Me and my friends went to the park,” we were immediately corrected with, “My friends and I…”

“Ain’t” was forbidden to be uttered within a six-block radius of her home, and any misspelled words were underlined for correction before homework was allowed to be returned.

This continued through our high school years, and beyond, into college, and even continues today if I have a rare grammatical slip-up while talking with my mother on the phone. Anyway… When I was sent off into the world with my impeccable grammar and spelling, it started to become clear to me right away why my mother was so insistent on using English correctly. Good grammar is one of the trademarks of polite, civilized, educated society. There is no quicker way to be dismissed in business, or to be discounted as a miscreant, than to not know how you should talk good.

Yet, as with so many annoying things your parents did to you, only after you become a parent yourself do you truly understand the value, and truly appreciate their efforts. Poor grammar offends my very senses, and misspellings jump off the page at me as if they were highlighted. Today, I am riding grammatical herd on my boys, just like my mom did with us. “You didn’t throwed the ball, son, you threw it.”

And as with all labors of love, many of the fruits of said labors aren’t realized until much, much later. My mom could have never have known it at the time, but she was helping the next generation fight off computer hackers. Way to go, Mom!

Hackers, as a rule, have atrocious grammar. I’m not sure if this is because they are all phishing from North Korea, China, and Nigeria, and just don’t have the lingo down pat, or if they are simply American-born-and-raised ne’er-do-wells, or both. I guess it really doesn’t matter, as long as they keep tipping their hand with missing verbs. Here’s an example of something I received the other day:

An e-mail from an address that was vaguely official, but not quite, like “,” with a subject line reading, “Your Credit Card Overdue.” (Good start, guys!)

Dear Customer,
Your Credit Card is one week overdue.
Below your Card information
Customer 7990682142
Card Limit XXXXXX
Pay Date 29 Jun 2011
The details are attached to this e-mail.
Please read the financial statement properly.
If you pay debt within 2 days, there will be no extra-charges.
In 2 days $25 late fee and a finance charge will be imposed on your account.
Please do not reply to this email, its automatic mail notification.
Thank you.

The attachment was a zip file titled “,” that surely contained a password stealing program or a virus of some flavor.

Now, come on, fellas! How stupid do you think I am? I mean, how hard would it be to find someone who can actually speak and read English to proofread your idiotic fake account alert?

The ridiculousness of it amazes me, but at the same time, it is totally understandable. If they had more smarts, they wouldn’t be criminals in the first place. Like the dynamic duo a few years ago that tried to rip an ATM out of the ground with their pickup truck. They attached a chain from their rear bumper to the ATM, and then hit the gas. The ATM stayed put and their bumper ended up on the ground. They had long since sped away from the scene of the almost-crime when the police arrived. The cops simply ran the license plate, found still attached to the bumper that was still attached to the ATM, and drove to their house to pick them up.

For a minute or two, you shake your head and wonder to yourself, “Why didn’t they at least retrieve the plate, let alone the bumper and the chain?” But then, the more you think about what they tried to do, and how they tried to do it, you say to yourself, “Of course they left it behind.”

Same thing is true, I guess, of communist North Korean hackers. If they had enough smarts to figure out how to do it right, they’d probably already be South Koreans. And if the American computer virtuoso-gone-hacker had an ounce of common sense, he would be writing programs for Microsoft instead of writing worms for the Russian mob.

I have to give the Nigerians a little credit, though. I have been getting scam e-mails from them for over ten years now, and at least they embraced their limitations early on.

“Look, guys, we can’t pretend we’re from their bank. They’ll never buy it. We can’t spell, and between all thirty-seven of us in this room, we can’t put together one decent sentence. Let’s just pretend we’re the son of a deposed king from right here in Nigeria. That way the grammar will be excusable. Hold my machete, Motumbo, I’m gonna start typing.”

As more and more of our every-day personal financial transactions are handled online, there is a cosmic leveling of the playing field when it comes to something as old-fashioned and fundamental as good grammar and spelling. The bad grammar of the hacker world is really quite handy. If the e-mails in your inbox were customers at a 7-Eleven, the bad grammar is the ski mask. See it, and you know something bad is about to go down.

Now, if you will excuse me, I need to call my mom and thank her. Its cause a her learnin’ me right them hackers ain’t gonna git me!

See you soon,

Copyright © 2011 Marc Schmatjen

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  1. Most of the folks that work in the government positions and workability programs can hardly speak English let alone have the ability to speak in proper English syntax. So why do they have jobs and the rest of the hard working class that lost jobs to layoffs don't and can't find one to save their lives. It is just not fair. Love your postings dude. Keep up the great work!

  2. (my ma teached me write, too, marc.) And to prove it, my daughter, to whom I've taught proper grammar and spelling throughout her schooling, is studying to be a... wait for it... Teacher! Yes, we have to stick together, the linguists who care, I guess. I cannot recommend strongly enough, the book "Eats, Shoots & Leaves." You should love it, and your Mom should, too. There is even a child's version. Thanks for the post.

  3. How I LOVED using that red pencil and, at last, some recognition! Ain't it sweet! -Mom