For people who believe, the Book of Genesis reminds us that, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God.” The Bible goes on to insist that the Word was also “good.”
Throughout time, as documented by the Bible (which remains the number one book sold, printed and circulated around the world) and other great works of literature, words mattered.
They still do. Uppercase, lowercase and used in proper context.
It is ironic that in the “Age of Information,” words are not getting their rightful due. They are being supplanted by acronyms and “emoticons” that have further been abbreviated with the term, “emojies.” Having working knowledge of cartoons, symbols and keyboard shortcuts has become more important than knowing how to express oneself using the caressing language of actual words.
And then there’s texting.
At one time, we even enjoyed the sound of each other’s voices.
“How are you?”
“Call me later so we can talk.”
Now it is not uncommon for people in the same house – some in the same room – to simply “text” each other when they want to “talk.” Who, beside singers, needs vocal chords anymore?
Words matter, but today, is the “word” still “good?”
“R u srs?” some millennial will probably ask. Yes, we’re serious.
“Cash me ousside, how ‘bout dat” went viral last week.
We are speaking less and texting more. Words that were once good enough for poets and authors like Walt Whitman, Edgar Allen Poe, Langston Hughes, James Baldwin, Ernest Hemingway and Gil Scott Heron aren’t good enough for many, if not most, anymore.
C U L8TR. This one has been known to pop up on license plates in several states.
LOL. The critical condition of language does not make us Laugh Out Loud.
What have we done with the beauty of language?
Then there’s the regular mix up of certain words: “they’re” and “their”; “you’re” and “your,” for example. Schools and teachers used to teach the proper usage and spelling of words. In fact, knowing English – real English, not slang English, hip-hop English, or Ebonics English – was a requirement for graduating high school. Some schools don’t even want to teach writing anymore.
Judging from recent school board meetings, discussions with teachers in various counties, and bewildered parents, we aren’t the only ones worried about literacy and language among America’s youth… or the lack thereof.
“My kid doesn’t think he needs to learn how to spell because he can just run spell check,” we’ve heard on more than one occasion.
“I have a fifth grader who has a difficult time writing a paragraph,” is another cry for help.
“My fourth grade grandson can’t identify verbs, nouns and pronouns,” another concerned person told us.
Fortunately, if there can be any good news here, this isn’t about race or ethnic culture. American culture, maybe.
It’s more about the importance of teaching kids, at school and in the home, to be able to read, write and speak proper English clearly.
Using technology to communicate, teens, preteens and mostly young adults, rely on a hidden language of abbreviations and emoticon symbols, much like the hieroglyphs of cavemen.
They may not talk much, but when they do, do they make eye contact? Are their conversations peppered with “um,” “like,” “you know,” “what I meant was,” and “irregardless?”
People are quick to judge based on bad grammar. While it’s not realistic to expect everyone to write or speak like Shakespeare (Lord knows, we sure don’t), we can make a greater effort to respect the word, respect proper sentence structure and respect the beauty that language represents.