The Internet always REMEMBERS :-)

My Brother and I were discussing resume writing. Joel Spolsky’s post on do’s and dont’s of resume writing (see “Getting your resume read” – Joel Spolsky) just had to come up. The first time I read the article, the one point that stuck in my mind were his views on correct spacing. The specific line read something like this:

“Attention, the entire population of India: whenever you have a comma, there is always exactly one space and it’s always after the comma and never before it. Thank you.”

Thankfully, Joel changed it to read as follows,

OK, this one really bugs me. Learn where spaces go in relation to other punctuation. Whenever you have a comma, there is always exactly one space and it’s always after the comma and never before it. Thank you.

Unfortunately, the Internet never forgets. I suspect that it was key feedback from Raj Aryan that got Joel (and the others on Joel’s forums) to rethink their atitude towards English and nationality. The discussion topic can be found here on Joel’s forum.

At one point during the discussion, someone wrote back that he has come across material in India where there was a space before the comma. I suspect it was Joel who thought that it is culturally acceptable in the country but that he later realised it was a mistake.

The specific line in Mr. Spolsky’s rant I had intended to address was “Attention, the entire population of India: whenever you have a comma, there is always exactly one space and it’s always after the comma and never before it. Thank you.”

While I wasn’t born in India and certainly haven’t traveled through the entire sub-continent of India, I have been in half a dozen cities there over a period of three weeks and I recall seeing such variants in printed material I encountered. I’ll search through my photos and see if I can find a picture to post as an example.

I regret not focusing my point of contention more narrowly since in not doing so, I was essentially guilty of something similar to what I took issue with in the original article: the blanket nature of the above-quoted statement which still seems rude and overly general at best.

To clarify, a space before a comma is not accepted practice in any nation that speaks the Queen’s English or any other variant of the language. No respected, well-known publisher in India would allow spaces before a comma knowingly. In any case, Raj Aryan then replied with his thoughts which I rate as very humourous, I suggest reading it!

Really, entire population of India suck in English, there English is very poor, but who would make these American CEOs understand that they would get such a bad English in India!

By the way, why don’t Americans (with there much better English) apply for jobs in India?

Raj Aryan
Monday, January 26, 2004

Raj’s comments sparked a flame war. The conceited geeks were schooled by him. Lesson learnt. If you see some geek railing and ranting about how all Indian programmers suck, or why their command over written and spoken English are poor, don’t stand for it.

Raj,
I presume the grammatical errors in the last comment were deliberate?

John
Monday, January 26, 2004

What eroors?

Raj Aryan
Monday, January 26, 2004

Raj the fetid troll asked:

“By the way, why don’t Americans (with there much better English) apply for jobs in India? “

Because India doesn’t have a H1-B program for Americans and other non-Indians like America has for foreigners.

George
Monday, January 26, 2004

> the fetid troll

Is that English? I told you my English is poor, can you be simpler?

> Because India doesn’t have a H1-B program for Americans and other non-Indians like America has for foreigners.

Thats because Americans are welcome anytime, just try!

Raj Aryan
Monday, January 26, 2004

Raj,

American Software programmers are some of the most broad minded and informed people when it comes to other cultures. Yes, George is right in saying that Indian labo(u)r laws are a lot more protective when compared to american laws. Also we have to thank THE Raj (pun intended 😉 ) for our perfect English speaking skills!

A note to American Programmers : If genome research picks up in America tomorrow, all us Indians/Chinese would be getting our *third* masters degree in Genomics :-p. There are some Indians whose English speaking skills are really good and some whose skills will never be perfect. Don’t judge people based on the way they dress up / talk. Its as silly as comparing cocks. A good number of us are geeks too and just want to have fun!

Thanks,
Sriram

PS. Can none of you spell ‘grammAr’ right?

Sriram
Monday, January 26, 2004

> American Software programmers are some of the most broad minded and informed people when it comes to other cultures.

You mean they have oblong or recantagle shape minds, unlike Indians! 🙂

> Yes, George is right in saying that …

Yeah, Customer (especially an American one) is always right!

> A note to American Programmers : If genome research picks up in America tomorrow, all us Indians/Chinese would be getting our *third* masters degree in Genomics :-p.

I guess what you are saying is that American parents should start encoraging their kids to major in Genomics! 🙂

> There are some Indians whose English speaking skills are really good and some whose skills will never be perfect.

Oh come one, most of the Indians are poor at English, they don’t know a squat, its ONLY because of cheap labor (or is it labour) the get American jobs.

Raj Aryan
Monday, January 26, 2004

The comment is a specific one; it appears that misspacing of commas is so common among Indians that the OP thought it was a legitimate regional variety.

Non-Indians don’t make that mistake so often, so why include them.

Indians are notorious for missing out the definite and indefinite articles. Spaniards, French and Germans don’t do that so you wouldn’t need to overgeneralize.

Stephen Jones
Tuesday, January 27, 2004

Stephen, Stephen, Stephen …

> it appears that misspacing of commas is so common among Indians that the OP thought it was a legitimate regional variety.

OP is not thinking!

“legitimate regional variety” – what kind of crap is that? how many Indian resumes are there in market at any given point in time and out of that how many freakin Indian resumes you or anybody have seen? If somebody thinks that they have seen enough to give stupid statement like “misspacing of commas is so common among Indians”, don’t hire that person!

> Non-Indians don’t make that mistake so often, so why include them.

Some more bullcrap, hunh …

Non-Indian = Everybody on freakin earth minus Indians.

Do you really think you have seen THAT MANY resumes.

> Indians are notorious for missing out the definite and indefinite articles.

Oh boy, you don’t stop do you? You must be a known racist Mr. Jones!!! Say no more.

Raj Aryan
Tuesday, January 27, 2004

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