People really underestimate the power of language and clear communication. Yes, the relentless conjugation of verbs and penmanship lessons in primary and secondary education institutes felt pointless but was it really? I ask this because it feels like we (in the English speaking world) have entered the tower of Babel and conversation between generations is rapidly eroding. This erosion is also leaving room for the conspiracy theorists to shout their inaccurate and unfounded “theories” far and wide, and for them to be accepted as FACT.
Now, I am no Oxbridge scholar (for those of you not in the UK, that is a consolidation of Oxford and Cambridge universities) but my grasp of the English language is pretty strong as is my ability to use the appropriate punctuation whether submitting a university paper or a status on Facebook. But increasingly, I struggle with the writing skills (or lack thereof) of people in my extended network – I am sure that I am not the only one! From run-on sentences to the lazy replacement of three letter words like you to U (that really gets my goat).
This is where I acknowledge that maybe I am prematurely turning into a granny and I will accept this graciously. When people overlook the basic rules of grammar (and totally ignore generally accepted spellings – e.g. replacing their with they’re or vice versa. This makes me cringe every time!!!!!), you open the flood gates for misinterpretation and block the communication channels between yourself and the rest of the world, especially those non-native English speakers. Let’s (as opposed to lets which is a synonym for rents) take a look at some of the truly appalling ways some words are abused:
They’re instead of their or there
You’re and your (You’re is a contraction and your is a possessive)
U or Ur instead of you or your
Am instead of I’m (this one really baffles me)
I realise that words and language are never stagnant and constantly evolve. I also realise that having non-stop access to the world’s biggest database (the internet) means this evolution is in our faces and amplifies the feeling of wrongness. It also means that people who are misspelling, changing the meaning of words and generally destroying the English language and grammar as we know it are also innovating the language – whether we like it or not. But I will go to my grave correcting people who insist on typing sentences like this
Do any of use no were I can find a cheap outfit for my daughter she has dance class next wk and i cant find there studio any help you can give me would help
Granted the above was a really abbreviated and poor attempt by me to articulate what I have observed day in and day out for years. I have a cousin who actually penned a 800 word status like this that left me looking like this <insert confused emoji>. My occasional snobbery aside, have those of you who offend ever stopped to think about how hard it may be for a person who is not a native English speaker to decipher what you type? They were taught English similarly to how we learned the conjugations of do (do, does, did, doing) and now you have created an entirely new schema? Okay, back to the point f this piece…..
A trend that has taken off recently is people agreeing with someone by stating boldly “FACTS!”. Now, most of us know this term is simply a strong signal of agreeing but “FACTS!” has taken on a life of its (not it’s, which is a contraction of it is) own. People now brand every personal opinion they have as FACTS when debating or arguing. They do this without researching reputable and citable sources. They opine with such confidence that other people believe these FACTS and then start to share them as their (not they’re which is a contraction of they are) references. Now we have millions of people confidently accepting things that are not FACT but simply someone’s version of the truth, their opinion.
I won’t (contraction of will not) point out how alternative FACTS are damaging our society – you only need log on to your social media accounts to see the constant fighting about some news reel or another. But FACTS and language miss-use are creating some very real and unnecessary confusion in the world.
Communication is the bedrock of every successful relationship and organisation. How can we be successful if we are bastardising words, phrases and ignoring even the most basic of grammar rules? How???????? There are too many apps that can auto-correct and give you the meaning of a word in milliseconds for us to be this lazy.
This piece is not meant to offend anyone who may have learning difficulties or non-native English speakers. It’s pointing out the lazy way in which we have chosen to adapt our language. Strong and appropriate use of language can change so many things for the better.
Included for your reference is a link to dictionary.com. You can learn new and fun words like defenestrate (to throw someone or something out of the window, like these poor language habits).
Post Script – if you won’t clean up your writing and communication skills for yourself, do it for your kids, your grandparents….. they don’t understand what you are writing.
Post Post Script – many of my regular readers may find a misspelling or error in this post but I have been planting them in my posts for years because I hate perfection and to see who is more pedantic than me. (absolute run-on sentence there)
Post Post Post Script – Happy New Year everyone!