remember me
Register | Forgot Login

Forums > RP Discussion > Not the right word - a PSA on 'Literate'.

This has been spoken about several times, the last time this was discussed was...a year ago from what I remember but it's starting to pop up again. I'm not going to mention anyone specific because it's not a problem with individual people but rather the RP community as a whole...

Literate.

What's it mean? Well, that's simple.

Literate means someone who can read and write.

In a sentence: Julia proved she was literate by reading a question on a piece of paper and writing an answer to it.

Therefore every single person on this wonderful website is in fact 'literate'.



It's a serious issue that seems to die down for a while and then pop back up in droves.

What issue you may ask?

People using the word 'literate' incorrectly, more so as a 'slang term' and in a way that is actually pretty offensive.

People in the RP community tend to use the word 'literate' to mean someone who writes at higher grade level/has a very skilled grasp on the English Language/it's rules, and/or someone who writes a lot (multi para for example.)

This is simply not a good way to use the word. As it implies that people who write at a lower grade level or do not have a skilled or first language grasp on the English Language and it's rules, and/or someone who writes very little are not literate.

Which isn't true. Not even remotely. Using the term 'Literate' to mean these things does not take into count someones first language, education privilege, class, or mental health.

Someone whose first language is German, or someone who didn't have the privilege to be in school for very long, or someone who isn't neurotypical, would be considered 'illiterate' or not literate under this usage of the world. Which can be hurtful and is not correct.

While I doubt anyone has poor intentions, the over all outcome of the usage of the word and how it can make people feel being used in such a manner, isn't good.

Please think before you use the word 'Literate' in such a manner.

Thank you <3

Ah, I remember the article you are referring to! I believe Novalynn wrote it and it was quite lovely. <3

As you state the true meaning of literate, it has turned into a bit of slang amongst the roleplay community as a whole, I feel. Not simply the RPR, but a way for people to insinuate that they are looking for either average or above average writers. It does, most certainly, skew the true meaning of the word, and can step on some toes. As you mention, it is doubtful that people use the term with ill-intent, but it is nice for the reminder, as well as to note the differentiation between its literal meaning and the slang term we have inadvertently transformed it into. <3

Demilicious wrote:
Ah, I remember the article you are referring to! I believe Novalynn wrote it and it was quite lovely. <3

As you state the true meaning of literate, it has turned into a bit of slang amongst the roleplay community as a whole, I feel. Not simply the RPR, but a way for people to insinuate that they are looking for either average or above average writers. It does, most certainly, skew the true meaning of the word, and can step on some toes. As you mention, it is doubtful that people use the term with ill-intent, but it is nice for the reminder, as well as to note the differentiation between its literal meaning and the slang term we have inadvertently transformed it into. <3

Thank you!

Yes I've noticed it particularly on RPR, Tumblr, and Twitter espeically. A few times on Instagram where RP happens as well.

It's a difficult thing it seems for a lot of people to grasp that sometimes the slang term meaning of words aren't for the best. While some words that have double meanings or slang meanings are helpful and over all for the best, I don't feel the secondary meaning that people have gotten used to with the word 'Literate' is helpful or for the best.

I appreciate the message in this post a lot. I didn't learn English until I was 13 or so, and I primarily taught myself through reading. I made mistakes and got harassed and bullied for it, and the literate/illiterate thing has since a long time bothered me. I used to think that being able to call myself literate would mean I was a great RPer, but I was really just insulting my younger self for just not having had the time to get better yet. :( The time when people called me illiterate because I didn't know the difference between which and witch is a memory I still carry to this day, even though it was an understandable and honestly benign mistake, it made me feel like hot garbage. I was no older than 14/15 at the time, not even 2 years into learning English from scratch, and while I turned it around and bettered my English skills, I really wish I didn't have that memory. It made me feel shame. Nobody should have to feel shame about being referred to as a person who can't read or write, just for mixing up some words or struggling with grammar or post length. Being illiterate at all is nothing inherently shameful even!

I'm glad to see there's some focus on the meaning of literate, and the effect it can have. I don't blame people for using it and I won't ever consider them bad people, but it will be nice when awareness spreads and people change how they seek RP partners.

I'm very hopeful that we can turn the trend around and focus on people's ability to have fun together.

Thanks for bringing this up again! I'm definitely in favor of more descriptive ways of communicating writing styles, like "multi-para" or giving even more specific length ranges, how flexible you are about grammar and such (good to push yourself into more flexibility, of course), communication expectations and such...

People don't even define things the same way. ^^;

Skol,

This is a good point to be made. I dislike the inappropriate use of words... as if it were derogatory.
I think its better people have some conviction about expressing what they are looking for such as:

Please be willing to write 3+ paragraphs with proper spelling and grammar.

Because that is what they are trying to condense into one single word. but even if they were using the word liberate properly it does not necessarily mean that everyone has an equal understand of the details it implies.

I admit that I'm guilty of using the slang version of literate on here. I simply saw other people use the word that way and well, monkey see, monkey do. I'll see about phasing it out of any future rp ads, though I might slip up as you know how hard ingrained habits can be to break.

This is the stuff I cannot stand. I really don't appreciate people calling others illiterate because they don't write as dramatically as others, or that their grasp of the English language(whether English is their native language or not), or that they simply like shorter story styles over longer ones. It's just plain rude to call someone illiterate just because their writing style doesn't match with someone else's, so thank you for bringing this up again because I've noticed the term is starting to make a comeback once again.

For those who speak English as their native language but don't have a strong grasp of grammar and spelling, we have no idea what kind of education system these people have access to, what has effected their home life, what kind of learning disability they might have, if they are deaf or even visually impaired, or even if they simply don't care to improve on their own writing because they are doing this for fun.

Yes, we should all want to improve ourselves, but that is not a requirement for a hobby of fun. I feel the same way about some gaming communities out there where players get extremely aggressive and abusive towards other players for not "being good enough" to play the game competitively in a match up that gives you the same exact reward for winning the match or losing the match.

Roleplaying isn't a competition, and quite frankly it gets irritating when people preach as though it's a requirement to write at all. No matter what is going on with someone, even if they choose to continue writing with massive grammatical errors, spelling errors, or even l33t speak, we have absolutely no right to judge that person for what they're doing with their hobbies.

Thank you all! <3 It means a lot. It's definitely something that I feel does more hurt than good.

Not to be be aimlessly contrary, but I respectfully disagree with the supposed misuse of the term, "literate". While I do soundly believe roleplay should - at its heart - be an act of enjoyment between two or more individuals through storytelling and (in the case of online roleplay) written discourse, the idea of being literate has vastly evolved over time. As language often does and should But I'm not going to bicker over it and make an argument out of it. This post will be my whole of it and, if by the end, you dislike or disagree with what I've said, then so be it.

If you, personally, feel that its use is incorrectly being used, I won't belittle your sentiments by sitting here with futile attempts to change your mind. I will, however, point out just a few articles that can easily be found on google just by typing in, "being literate", as reference to why I feel it is more than appropriate to simply let the matter lie.

https://medium.com/literate-schools/what-does-it-mean-to-be-literate-bcd2e4c1227c

https://www.vocabulary.com/dictionary/literate

http://lvsct.org/literacy-is-living-literacy-is-the-freedom-to-live/

There are others, and some that support your claim (if I dig deep enough), but there's not much cause for them beyond the first few here.

Besides, I issue these not as a challenge to your point of view, but more as a supplement to those who may feel obliged to continue using "literate" as they have without feeling pressured to alter what is for all purposes a widely accepted use of the term in more than a handful of respected literary circles. I don't support using the word as a way to push the ideal that one who can read and write with only the most basic of principles at the ready is somehow a lesser person; I also don't support the concept that using requests such as, "Please be a literate rper," or some such is undoubtedly incorrect. But the assertion of one usage over the other as being "correct" is, in this case, not so cut and dry.

It may not be ideal, but it is not being used improperly on the whole no matter personal feelings. You may object. Some others may agree in that objection. I'm merely pointing out the other side of the coin, and remarking on how very simple, ardent research exists to support the use of the word as I've seen so often here and elsewhere. I'm sure you or others could provide bits of your own to support your claims, so again, this isn't to tell you that your version is incorrect. I'm pointing out that to say the variation is somehow wrong is, I'm afraid, not entirely truthful. Not that that's your intent.

If it irks you... I get it. I don't use the word that way myself, frankly. But there you have it.

Even the last of the few selected examples I've provided illustrates how, "LITERACY means the ability to read and understand information. If you read and understand information, you will have the ability to use it — or convey it to another person effectively." When used in request for a partner in roleplay online, it is often evident that the person making said request is hoping for the person to be capable of grasping information and deducing the next possible steps within the context of the roleplay. Basic comprehension is sometimes like basic common sense, unfortunately - which is to say not very "basic" at all for some. It certainly isn't always so readily available as each us all would like. It's a big world, after all. Plenty of room for grey areas.

So, I suppose what I'm saying is that, given what can be found on the subject as a whole, both sides are both right and wrong depending on taste, but there doesn't seem to be any indisputable evidence regarding it one way or the other. If anything, I would venture to say there's simply nothing truly wrong with the word as is applied in most requests. A bug in the soup for some? Sure. Unquestionably. But wrong? Hm... I really don't think so.

I certainly don't think it warrants multiple decrees of "how" to use the term, when I've so few times seen it put in a context that isn't in itself a ridicule of one's own literacy to try and correct. It's as simple as accept that sometimes there is more than one way to skin a cat, regardless of how our grade school teacher or college professor has tried to gear us into thinking that there is only the one.

But feel how you feel, and use it as you wish. I won't dispute it. Just keep on communicating. Your view is still valid.

Anyhow, thank you for expressing your opinion, and I hope that both it and my tiny contribution can illicit some kind of understanding in the spaces between. I don't venture here often these days, but it's nice to see people expanding on writing, reading, and the usage of all the parts which make it possible.

(As always, if there are any errors in my post, keep in mind that I'm something of a busy man and simply wished to convey my thoughts and/or queries as quickly as possible. I trust you to be able to decipher my horrid writing for yourself and take from it what you will, regardless of my opinions either way... which is the fun of it all, isn't it? If this is being tagged to an rp post, please allow at least 24 hrs. before hitting me with a rolled up newspaper, as I may be in the process of editing it as you start your wind up. Take care and have a good day/evening. Go Space Broncos!)

Moderators: MadRatBird, Keke, Libertine, Cass, Auberon, Copper_Dragon, Sanne, Dragonfire, Darth_Angelus


Forums > RP Discussion > Not the right word - a PSA on 'Literate'.