how to ask your letter-writer to check her grammar

(Applications Advice, Letters of Recommendation . . . )
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Maye
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how to ask your letter-writer to check her grammar

Postby Maye » Tue Sep 06, 2011 9:05 am

My boss is writing me a letter. I've known her for almost 3 years and have worked directly under her this entire time. She's smart and I think the letter from her will be a good one. However...her English isn't very good. She just doesn't have a very good grasp of basic grammar. How can I subtly ask her to proofread it and have someone else do it without coming off as snooty or offensive? I don't want admissions committees to read a letter for be that's full of mistakes.

"We'll clear him on a temporary bases." Oy

Any advice? Thanks!

*edited for insensitivity on my part. also my own grammar. lulz
Last edited by Maye on Wed Sep 07, 2011 2:05 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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BiglawOrBust
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Re: how to ask your letter-writer to check their grammar

Postby BiglawOrBust » Tue Sep 06, 2011 2:26 pm

Maye wrote: She's smart and I think the letter from her will be a good one. However...her English isn't very good. She's not an immigrant, she just doesn't have a very good grasp of basic grammar.


WTF? :?:

bp shinners
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Re: how to ask your letter-writer to check their grammar

Postby bp shinners » Tue Sep 06, 2011 5:41 pm

Honestly, I wouldn't worry too much about it. While it's certainly jarring to read a poorly written LoR, they're mostly read for content. It doesn't really reflect poorly on you if your boss can't spell, so it won't be held against you.

You could also ask your boss' administrative assistant if s/he can sneak a look at it and edit it before it goes out - that might be the plan, anyway.

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TIKITEMBO
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Re: how to ask your letter-writer to check their grammar

Postby TIKITEMBO » Wed Sep 07, 2011 1:08 am

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Last edited by TIKITEMBO on Thu Sep 20, 2012 1:37 am, edited 1 time in total.

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tyro
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Re: how to ask your letter-writer to check their grammar

Postby tyro » Wed Sep 07, 2011 1:17 am

I have the same problem and was advised by one person not to do so because if could be seen as inappropriate/offensive to ask him to check his grammar. My recommendor was not born in the US and I was told that the admission officers will be able to connect my recommendor's name to the likely issue of having to learn English as a second language. I was told not to worry about it so long as the grammar mistakes are small/minimal which they are. I think this seems reasonable for my case.

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TIKITEMBO
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Re: how to ask your letter-writer to check their grammar

Postby TIKITEMBO » Wed Sep 07, 2011 1:31 am

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Last edited by TIKITEMBO on Thu Sep 20, 2012 1:37 am, edited 2 times in total.

LawWeb
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Re: how to ask your letter-writer to check their grammar

Postby LawWeb » Wed Sep 07, 2011 1:33 am

I had this happen. A top lawyer, widely known. Bad grammar in the ref letter. I don't think it affected admissions.

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tyro
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Re: how to ask your letter-writer to check their grammar

Postby tyro » Wed Sep 07, 2011 1:37 am

Now this may be a bit of an improper generalization, but for employers I think the issue could be different than that for professors. Professors have (generally) demonstrated their competence/intelligence by obtaining a PhD. Employers, on the other hand, might lose credibility based on the assumption that they do not have these kinds of credentials. So, it might be more important for an employer to 'sound smart' than for a professor.

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SemperLegal
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Re: how to ask your letter-writer to check their grammar

Postby SemperLegal » Wed Sep 07, 2011 2:28 am

I asked an admissions director at CLS if I should have my super impressive, and highly-supportive squad leader write a LOR, even though it would be generous to classify English as his tertiary language. The response was, not unless you are someone you trust will have a chance to proofread it, as anything in my file would reflect on me personally.

He was a dick, for that and other reasons. I like his school, but honestly the man should be honored to receive a letter from my squad leader if it was scrawled on toilet paper in the most appropriate ink for the medium.

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tyro
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Re: how to ask your letter-writer to check their grammar

Postby tyro » Wed Sep 07, 2011 3:20 am

SemperLegal wrote:as anything in my file would reflect on me personally.

To a certain (and limited) extent, I do agree.
You should clarify what "squad" means in your case though, otherwise it's kind of difficult to evaluate the situation.

MumofCad
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Re: how to ask your letter-writer to check their grammar

Postby MumofCad » Wed Sep 07, 2011 8:23 am

If faced with this problem, I would do one of 2 things:

1) If I was very very close to the person as I am with one of my recommenders, I simply asked him to run it by his executive assistant. English is his 5th language, and I knew he wouldn't blink twice about it. And he didn't. He just asked if he should maybe just send to a professional editor instead as he wanted it to be perfect (hey, it has his name on it too after all)

or

2) If this was someone I wasn't close to personally, I would draw up an official looking instruction and helpful hints page about the task for my recommender (which is also good FWIW for professional recs anyway, because a lot of times they will have no experience with the task of writing for law school and will instead write something like they would for another employer, which may or may not be helpful). On that page, you can easily deflect blame onto the law admissions and not the recommender so you would have a content point as 1) It is most helpful to touch on x, y, and z. then 2) Due to the academic nature of the process, some law school admissions officer have been known to hold even letters of recommendation to the highest standards for grammar and typos. Some consider errors to reflect poorly on the applicant or detract from the letter. As such, and since no one is a grammatical master, it is often advised to run all application materials including letters of recommendation by a few other eyes for hidden typos and mistakes before sending off. 3) something else about content or the way it should be addressed or something. Its all smoke and mirrors to get across a suggestion you want to make without it looking directed at the individual or implying weakness on their part. You just simply say, here is something I drew up for all my recommenders to clarify some of the questions you may have about what they are looking for or what/how to write it, etc. that you can go over and have with you while writing. Usual pleasantries about how thankful you are that they are willing to embark on this to help you attend law school should also be in the intro to the page.
Last edited by MumofCad on Wed Sep 07, 2011 11:03 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Vronsky
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Re: how to ask your letter-writer to check their grammar

Postby Vronsky » Wed Sep 07, 2011 8:43 am

Not sure if this has been mentioned yet, but in a thread complaining about grammar, OP should pay more attention to subject-verb agreement in the title.

letter-writer = singular, their = plural

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SemperLegal
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Re: how to ask your letter-writer to check their grammar

Postby SemperLegal » Wed Sep 07, 2011 12:23 pm

tyro wrote:
SemperLegal wrote:as anything in my file would reflect on me personally.

To a certain (and limited) extent, I do agree.
You should clarify what "squad" means in your case though, otherwise it's kind of difficult to evaluate the situation.


Infantry squad leader, in charge of twelve Marines in a normal world, but the man had more on his chest than Angelina Jolie.

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Bildungsroman
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Re: how to ask your letter-writer to check their grammar

Postby Bildungsroman » Wed Sep 07, 2011 12:28 pm

SemperLegal wrote:I asked an admissions director at CLS if I should have my super impressive, and highly-supportive squad leader write a LOR, even though it would be generous to classify English as his tertiary language. The response was, not unless you are someone you trust will have a chance to proofread it, as anything in my file would reflect on me personally.

He was a dick, for that and other reasons. I like his school, but honestly the man should be honored to receive a letter from my squad leader if it was scrawled on toilet paper in the most appropriate ink for the medium.

Well that's Columbia for you.

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Naked Dude
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Re: how to ask your letter-writer to check their grammar

Postby Naked Dude » Wed Sep 07, 2011 12:37 pm

A what a dilemma. Such is life. You don't want the committees to think you just yanked some schmuck from the streets to write you a letter "Hello. I am the Prince of Nigeria and am been exiled from my country. I have $5,000,000 I must withdraw in an account in the First National Bank of Nigeria. If you wire me $10,000 and admit Maye, I am sending you 20% of the value of the account."

Trusted administrative assistant perhaps? Maybe a printout from a law school website laying out letter writing guideline for law school admissions would be a stealth request?

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Naked Dude
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Re: how to ask your letter-writer to check their grammar

Postby Naked Dude » Wed Sep 07, 2011 12:47 pm

BiglawOrBust wrote:
Maye wrote: She's smart and I think the letter from her will be a good one. However...her English isn't very good. She's not an immigrant, she just doesn't have a very good grasp of basic grammar.


WTF? :?:


Immigrants have terrible grammar, didn't you know? No educated or articulate people come into this country, just them Mexicans who take our jerbs and Españolify our cities.

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zanda
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Re: how to ask your letter-writer to check their grammar

Postby zanda » Wed Sep 07, 2011 12:53 pm

Vronsky wrote:Not sure if this has been mentioned yet, but in a thread complaining about grammar, OP should pay more attention to subject-verb agreement in the title.

letter-writer = singular, their = plural

Word. Somewhere Justices Scalia and Ginsburg are weeping.

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zanda
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Re: how to ask your letter-writer to check their grammar

Postby zanda » Wed Sep 07, 2011 12:57 pm

Naked Dude wrote:
BiglawOrBust wrote:
Maye wrote: She's smart and I think the letter from her will be a good one. However...her English isn't very good. She's not an immigrant, she just doesn't have a very good grasp of basic grammar.


WTF? :?:


Immigrants have terrible grammar, didn't you know? No educated or articulate people come into this country, just them Mexicans who take our jerbs and Españolify our cities.

Huh? "Most X= Y" is not the same as "most Y=X."

The suggestion was not that all or most immigrants have terrible grammar. The suggestion was arguably that most of those with bad grammar are immigrants. It was much more likely either that educated professionals with poor grammer are mostly (more than 50%) immigrant, or that weak grammar is more accepted for educated professional immigrants than for educated professional non-immigrants.

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Naked Dude
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Re: how to ask your letter-writer to check their grammar

Postby Naked Dude » Wed Sep 07, 2011 1:31 pm

zanda wrote:
Naked Dude wrote:
BiglawOrBust wrote:
Maye wrote: She's smart and I think the letter from her will be a good one. However...her English isn't very good. She's not an immigrant, she just doesn't have a very good grasp of basic grammar.


WTF? :?:


Immigrants have terrible grammar, didn't you know? No educated or articulate people come into this country, just them Mexicans who take our jerbs and Españolify our cities.

Huh? "Most X= Y" is not the same as "most Y=X."

The suggestion was not that all or most immigrants have terrible grammar. The suggestion was arguably that most of those with bad grammar are immigrants. It was much more likely either that educated professionals with poor grammer are mostly (more than 50%) immigrant, or that weak grammar is more accepted for educated professional immigrants than for educated professional non-immigrants.


The suggestion that most with bad grammar are immigrants is only slightly less insulting than suggesting that all immigrants have bad grammar. Either way you read it, it's an extremely offensive juxtaposition. I have worked or gone to school with many immigrants-from Japan, South America, parts of Africa, and most spoke excellent English, some better than natural born citizens I know.

Weak grammar may arguably be more acceptable for educated professional immigrants, but that's only really true within more technical fields. I know there's the stereotype of the unintelligible Indian doctor, but most of the Indian immigrant doctors I've met through family members who are doctors speak very well too. Why even bring it up?

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Maye
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Re: how to ask your letter-writer to check their grammar

Postby Maye » Wed Sep 07, 2011 1:52 pm

Vronsky wrote:Not sure if this has been mentioned yet, but in a thread complaining about grammar, OP should pay more attention to subject-verb agreement in the title.

letter-writer = singular, their = plural

Ohh touche, my friend.

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Maye
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Re: how to ask your letter-writer to check their grammar

Postby Maye » Wed Sep 07, 2011 1:54 pm

Naked Dude wrote:
zanda wrote:
Naked Dude wrote:
BiglawOrBust wrote:
WTF? :?:


Immigrants have terrible grammar, didn't you know? No educated or articulate people come into this country, just them Mexicans who take our jerbs and Españolify our cities.

Huh? "Most X= Y" is not the same as "most Y=X."

The suggestion was not that all or most immigrants have terrible grammar. The suggestion was arguably that most of those with bad grammar are immigrants. It was much more likely either that educated professionals with poor grammer are mostly (more than 50%) immigrant, or that weak grammar is more accepted for educated professional immigrants than for educated professional non-immigrants.


The suggestion that most with bad grammar are immigrants is only slightly less insulting than suggesting that all immigrants have bad grammar. Either way you read it, it's an extremely offensive juxtaposition. I have worked or gone to school with many immigrants-from Japan, South America, parts of Africa, and most spoke excellent English, some better than natural born citizens I know.

Weak grammar may arguably be more acceptable for educated professional immigrants, but that's only really true within more technical fields. I know there's the stereotype of the unintelligible Indian doctor, but most of the Indian immigrant doctors I've met through family members who are doctors speak very well too. Why even bring it up?

Sigh. I was not trying to be offensive. I was just trying to be clearer in regards to the question I was asking, and didn't really proof-read. Take it easy, guys.

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Maye
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Re: how to ask your letter-writer to check their grammar

Postby Maye » Wed Sep 07, 2011 1:57 pm

MumofCad wrote:If faced with this problem, I would do one of 2 things:

1) If I was very very close to the person as I am with one of my recommenders, I simply asked him to run it by his executive assistant. English is his 5th language, and I knew he wouldn't blink twice about it. And he didn't. He just asked if he should maybe just send to a professional editor instead as he wanted it to be perfect (hey, it has his name on it too after all)

or

2) If this was someone I wasn't close to personally, I would draw up an official looking instruction and helpful hints page about the task for my recommender (which is also good FWIW for professional recs anyway, because a lot of times they will have no experience with the task of writing for law school and will instead write something like they would for another employer, which may or may not be helpful). On that page, you can easily deflect blame onto the law admissions and not the recommender so you would have a content point as 1) It is most helpful to touch on x, y, and z. then 2) Due to the academic nature of the process, some law school admissions officer have been known to hold even letters of recommendation to the highest standards for grammar and typos. Some consider errors to reflect poorly on the applicant or detract from the letter. As such, and since no one is a grammatical master, it is often advised to run all application materials including letters of recommendation by a few other eyes for hidden typos and mistakes before sending off. 3) something else about content or the way it should be addressed or something. Its all smoke and mirrors to get across a suggestion you want to make without it looking directed at the individual or implying weakness on their part. You just simply say, here is something I drew up for all my recommenders to clarify some of the questions you may have about what they are looking for or what/how to write it, etc. that you can go over and have with you while writing. Usual pleasantries about how thankful you are that they are willing to embark on this to help you attend law school should also be in the intro to the page.

I think this is a good idea. I plan to give her a packet of useful documents so she can write the letter and I'll include something along your second point, thanks.

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Bildungsroman
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Re: how to ask your letter-writer to check their grammar

Postby Bildungsroman » Wed Sep 07, 2011 2:06 pm

Naked Dude wrote:
The suggestion that most with bad grammar are immigrants is only slightly less insulting than suggesting that all immigrants have bad grammar. Either way you read it, it's an extremely offensive juxtaposition. I have worked or gone to school with many immigrants-from Japan, South America, parts of Africa, and most spoke excellent English, some better than natural born citizens I know.

Weak grammar may arguably be more acceptable for educated professional immigrants, but that's only really true within more technical fields. I know there's the stereotype of the unintelligible Indian doctor, but most of the Indian immigrant doctors I've met through family members who are doctors speak very well too. Why even bring it up?

Dude, shut the fuck up. Nobody gives one cold flaky dried-up shit about how offended you are.

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Naked Dude
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Re: how to ask your letter-writer to check their grammar

Postby Naked Dude » Wed Sep 07, 2011 4:39 pm

Bildungsroman wrote:
Naked Dude wrote:
The suggestion that most with bad grammar are immigrants is only slightly less insulting than suggesting that all immigrants have bad grammar. Either way you read it, it's an extremely offensive juxtaposition. I have worked or gone to school with many immigrants-from Japan, South America, parts of Africa, and most spoke excellent English, some better than natural born citizens I know.

Weak grammar may arguably be more acceptable for educated professional immigrants, but that's only really true within more technical fields. I know there's the stereotype of the unintelligible Indian doctor, but most of the Indian immigrant doctors I've met through family members who are doctors speak very well too. Why even bring it up?

Dude, shut the fuck up. Nobody gives one cold flaky dried-up shit about how offended you are.


Hey look it's head of the aspie patrol. Fuck yourself too

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romothesavior
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Re: how to ask your letter-writer to check her grammar

Postby romothesavior » Wed Sep 07, 2011 4:43 pm

Lol @ the idea that anyone in admissions will even read it.




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