411 Focus

I hate bad grammar... I hate "acceptance" of poor language ...

Contributed By:Dorothy Nevils maslivend@sbcglobal.net

Language: Your choice

Let me begin boldly: You speak poorly because that is the choice you’ve made.

We’ve been exposed to language since birth. We’ve heard it, read it, and spoken it. Let me add, our experience with language was not accidental. We were “in on it.”

Some things may trip you up – or down – but you can generally tell when you have fallen: You see legs, and gym shoes, rocks (and, nowadays, you might even see belt loops and dingy underwear almost on the ground.)

Up above your head, if you’re not all the way drunk, you’ll see folks you may recognize, and you scramble, if you’re not seriously injured, to upend yourself so that you are again head to head, cheek to cheek, with the people who, by some means (attention or sobriety) managed to remain perpendicular to the sidewalk. In other words, there are clues to help you “stay straight,” and through the years, you’ve learned them. Good for you!

That same principle applies to language. Beginning in kindergarten, if you’re lucky, and even before preschool, if you’re luckier, you’ve had guidance in language… and more specifically, in your native language. Folks have worked hard to guide you in using and understanding the language that people who live where you live, tune in to the shows, news, weather, etc., on the same television channels you do, use. That language, dear reader, is English!

So, for heaven’s sake, why am I saying this? Simple!

If you were born in Panama, lived in Panama, and communicated with Panamanians, you’d speak Spanish, and even if you were going there for but a year, you’d learn the difference between “mi casa” and “su casa.”

Why then is learning the correct use of “me” and “I” so difficult to folks born and raised here in an English-speaking country? What is it about “him and me” vs. “he and I” that is so very difficult to grasp… especially since we here in the United States pay millions, year after year after year… to teach it to people who have never left the United States?

Besides instruction in the classroom, there are opportunities galore for people so inclined to learn to speak and write their native tongue! It’s a matter of will… or desire. If you want to drive, you will take steps to learn – Oops! Wrong example! A few minutes in traffic will negate that! Forgive me.

Dancing’s a better example! I see people who cannot put an s on dance when it follows a singular subject like he: “He dance like a professional,” and someone says, “They all dances like professionals!”

Standard English is not out of reach. It fits in so well with one of those cheers from high school. You know the one. “Come on team. You can do it if you put your mind to it!” The only excuse, then, is not putting one’s mind to it.

I hate bad grammar. I hate that our schools waste money on people who have no intention of speaking and writing like they’ve had lessons in language usage.

I hate “acceptance” of poor language and vilification of those who reject it. Poor speech matters not to a “real” friend, they say. Friends accept with no strings.

Well, answer me this: He stops bathing, his breath stinks, and a garden would thrive in his hair. Be honest. How long would you call him “friend”?

Story Posted:05/06/2018

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