With the proliferation of MySpace, Facebook and Twitter, our writing has become much more visible.
Where previously only one unlucky soul would be on the receiving end of an e-mail with un-capitalized letters, missing periods and run-on sentences, now people regularly subject scores of their friends and followers to poorly written reports of what ‘their’ doing or thinking.
But the written word is not the only medium in which the English language is being dragged through the mud. Speaking properly is rapidly becoming a lost art.
Who can forget (much as he or she may try) Miss South Carolina’s rambling, nonsensical beauty pageant response to why one-fifth of Americans can’t find the U.S. on a map? She can be partly forgiven, seeing as she was in a pressure situation in which anyone might have trouble forming a cogent answer.
But this does not forgive the ignorant masses walking around talking about how they ‘literally died’ or how something should be, ‘irregardless’ of the facts. These people’ are guilty of ‘the cold-blooded murder of the English tongue,’ My Fair Lady‘s Professor Henry Higgins said.
Pop culture is certainly not doing the public any favors. Music lyrics are rife with shudder-inducing grammatical gaffs.
Case in point: Timbaland’s ‘The Way I Are.’ Also, in the song ‘Fergalicious,’ we are informed that Fergie is ‘T, to the A, to the S-T-E-Y.’ When Justin Timberlake’s girl cheated, his heart ‘bleeded.’ And the list goes on and on.
The effect of this communication degradation is that the world becomes divided into two camps: those who know how to correctly convey their thoughts intelligently and everybody else.
A 2005 survey found Fortune 500 companies spend $3 billion a year retraining employees in the basic usage of English. The heads of these companies know that when their employees use bad grammar in writing and speaking to customers, those customers lose confidence in that company and the company loses money.
Customers subconsciously infer that if those representing the company do not know, for example, the proper uses of ‘between’ versus ‘among,’ there is a chance they also don’t know how to do whatever it is they profess to do as a company, and the customers will take their business elsewhere.
In a tough job market, there is no easier way to etch yourself into the memory of a potential boss than to have a perfectly written resume and to conduct your interview without once using the word ‘like.’
Then, when the interview is over, and you return to your computer to inform the world how it went, please resist the urge to put apostrophes where they don’t belong.
Jared Luck is a communication senior and may be reached at email@example.com