Saturday, September 3, 2011

Please Stop Screwing Up My Language

The English language is a precision instrument, much like a surgeon's scalpel. Many have used it to great effect: Poe, Dickens, Twain, Agatha Christie, Steven King, J. K. Rowling, and many others use exactly the right words to get exactly the right meaning across to their readers.

As with any tool, practice makes perfect. You can't even get the best use out of a hoe until you actually use it and learn its peculiarities. With a tool that has as many moving pieces as the English language, you can expect to spend a lifetime mastering it. Even learning to use it well takes a lot more time and effort than many people are willing to give.

What I find amazing is that many people who are handed this amazing tool actively refuse to learn its proper use. While some use it well, others try to use this surgeon's scalpel as a machete, or worse, a sledgehammer. Consider the numerous so-called modern "musicians."

Shakespeare wrote: "Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?"
[insert name of rap "artist"] wrote: "Smack up some bitches and hos, yo."
Or the average teenager: "Hey I want 2 cum ovr their 2 c u it's definately ben to long"

This is why some literature is "great," and most of the stuff cranked out nowadays is "shit."
Comparing them is much like comparing a live Mozart symphony to something that came out of a Gameboy, or perhaps a center cut of prime rib to a Big Mac.
Teenage texting language is more like the difference between the Mozart and a guy making fart noises in his armpit. When we see this, those of us who love the language start plotting how to slip poison into the Big Mac sauce.

Is it any wonder that people who live in poverty are usually the very ones who have refused to learn the proper use of the most effective tool that mankind has ever created?
It is certainly not politically correct to say this, but the tool that they have so cheerfully abandoned to rust away in the overgrown fields of their minds is the very tool that would have lifted them out of their poverty, both social and financial. In other words, the blame for most poverty lands squarely on the shoulders of the impoverished. They seem to prefer the Big Mac, because getting the prime rib requires that they, like, work, and stuff.

There is hope, though. Even as neglected and dilapidated as it is, this tool can be restored, and it can start benefitting even the most culturally impoverished person, any time he decides to clean it up and learn how to use it properly. The longer it is neglected, the longer it will take to clear out the weeds, but the rewards are worth the effort.