Posted on October 9, 2009
They’re Only Words, Right?
Author’s Foreword: This post is lovingly dedicated to my dear friend Andrea, a woman who shares many of my compulsions. Language is only one of them. Reading thesauruses may be another.
While earlier pondering this blog post, I was formulating what I thought would be the perfect opening anecdote. Upon further consideration, I realized that whether it related to my topic or not was moot, so I’ve decided to drop it altogether and cut to the chase.
“What’s the deal with language these days?”
When ICQ made its first appearance in 1996, chat speak was born. Words and phrases became abbreviated and emotions were instead expressed through cleverly strung together punctuation marks. Further still, punctuation itself was completely thrown out the window. It’s a slippery slope, my friends, and since then we’ve been inundated by way of MSN, AOL, text messaging, MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, e-mail, e-cards, blogs, webcams and smart phones.
While technology has certainly made the world a smaller place and brought people closer together (though that is still open to debate), it has also turned us into incredibly disgusting and ridiculously languid communicators.
Photo: MrPhilDog on Flickr
It can be assumed that the majority of Canadians have been taught, generally speaking, a basic education in the public school system. Many more of us have been fortunate enough to attend post-secondary institutions. The expectation concerning our quality of work only increases as we pursue higher levels of schooling. Words – both written and spoken – are arguably the strongest method of communication no matter which language one speaks.
Have I missed something along the way? I was by no means the most scholastic student in any given class. I made efforts when warranted, pulled off a consistent ‘B’ average throughout most of academia and never gave one subject more attention over another. Yet somehow I’ve still managed to walk away with an understanding of spelling, grammar and punctuation.
An alarming rate of educated adults still mix up contractions with possessive words. “A lot” has always been, and will always be, two separate words. When joining two thoughts with “and,” why use a comma? The “and” in the middle is the conjoiner. Run-on sentences are never acceptable and the only exception to this rule is if your name is Ernest Hemingway or Raymi. Though, even those two know what’s what.
The truth is that this unfortunate phenomenon is not restricted to chat windows and Facebook walls. Glaring blunders are popping up in grocery store fliers, newspapers, magazines, work-related correspondence and on billboards. I can’t help but wonder if our educations have failed us or if we simply no longer care. It’s time for the lost art of language to make a triumphant return.