C’est la vie

Hello again loyal reader.

It has been some weeks now since our little campaign came into being, yet it feels already feel a saga unto itself. Doubtless, little has changed in the bowels of cyberspace, the same cretins persevere in their perversions of English, self-assured in their own ignorance. “Lol” and emoticons becoming increasingly fundamental in imbuing the primitive prose of the slothful with some bare iota of meaning.

But, as they say, Rome was not built in a day. If this campaign ever reaches fruition, it will be a day at a time. And the same might be said for all us students of the English language, reading more, writing more and taking care with our spelling and syntax. There is, unfortunately, no eureka moment waiting to spring upon us, no linguistic nirvana waiting to dawn upon the vigilant. But I urge all of you, those who are fortunate enough to perceive the worth and beauty in language, DO pursue the path of discipline. Sloth and ignorance only serves to sap the joy from life and literature, and every effort you make towards a better understanding of English will repay itself threefold. This campaign is as much about our individual battles, as it is about the woeful status quo at a broader level.

Advertisements
Standard

Halcyon Again

Hello again kind readers.

For this entry I thought to return in more depth to a core theme that has been recurring in various prior entries. The value of proper language and proper ability, and why linguistic deterioration demands action.

Many ill-spoken epistemophobes would have you believe that literacy is a pedantic, fruitless pursuit. They would tell you it is little more more than an ego fueled endeavour searching for the approbation of conceited literary elitists. A crude excuse for their laziness.

Language is not the only means of communicating, but it’s certainly the most popular. The better your command of English becomes, the easier it is to transcribe your intended meaning to words or paper. Not only this, but you are able to more precisely communicate what you want, in fewer words. Is this not something to be desired? Have we not all at one point been frustrated at our inability to put something to words? Have we not all once been at our wit’s end trying to conform an essay to its prescribed word limit?

Perhaps it is a problem at society’s very core, that physical exercise and discipline is venerated and the fit body highly sought after in popular culture. While linguistic fitness and the pursuit of knowledge is all too often stigmatised as “nerdy” or the solace of the friendless. In such a case I urge you reader to fight against this callous culture, to read, write and think with pride and purpose.

Standard

Less Than Exemplary

Hello once again fair reader.

For this entry I again return to laying out some of those more basic errors that pervade the inter-space. Once more, if you are yourself a veritable exemplar of English, you might well find little of use here.

Looser/Loser

Here is a mistake that confounds me at its every occurrence. Netizens, as they are evidently so want to do, calling someone else a loser on the internet, but misspelling it as ‘looser’. Loose is not in any way the antonym for win, it is in fact an adjective meaning something that is not tight, with looser being its comparative form. So please be advised, if you type looser in place of loser, you are not simply misspelling a word, you are substituting it for an entirely other word that expunges any element of syntax from your sentence.

Should of/Should’ve

Here is an error that has presumably cropped up as a result of the two sounding so similar. I refer to “the two” but really there is only one thing. ‘Should’ve’ is the contraction of should have, ‘should of’ (would of, could of, etc.) is not anything you should have cause to say or write ever. It is purely incorrect.

Fewer/Less

Here’s a trickier one, and perhaps a touch pedantic. ‘Fewer’ is used where the noun it is attached may be counted as a number. For example, I may have five dollars, so someone with only three would have fewer dollars than I. Alternatively, we might say he has less money than me, because we cannot say he has three monies (unless we are talking about plural currencies).

Maybe you found something of use in these examples. If not, be proud that with such an understanding you are likely at the upper echelons of Internet literacy.

Standard

Further Fallacies

Hello again genteel reader.

For this entry I will again address one of those perverse fallacies the linguistically ignorant use in defence of their slothful inability. The excuse, and I’d be surprised if you hadn’t as well come across it, is something along the lines of “omg it dosent matter as long as u understand me lol”. In other words, as long as another person is able to wade into their bileful mess of prose and laboriously extract some rudimentary message, all is well. I can only feel sorry for such a person who would believe this, someone who can perceive no beauty in language. But let us entertain their argument, how do the hallmarks of the English language fare with a new and hip “netspeak” make-over?

“U squares, u rocks, u badder then stupid shit

O u nasty haerts, u mean guys from Rome,

Didnt u kno Pompey?…” – Billy SHakeS

Language is clearly more than a binary transmission of a certain meaning, meaning itself is rarely binary. What’s more, there is an unsightly arrogance in assuming that whatever one says holds such weight as to not require any effort in regards to presentation or establishing rapport. A worthy wielder of language does more than simply stating things, they convince people of what they mean, they bring laughter, they bring suspense. On top of this, there is of course an obligation stemming from simple common courtesy to make yourself as easily understood as possible. Expecting someone to make the effort listen to you or read what you have to say, and not even bother to make yourself legible is simply a foul and reprehensible attitude. So I urge you stalwart reader, do not fall into the trap of such a fallacy as this, endeavour to make yourself as concise as possible.

Standard

The Times

Hello again kind reader.

Another distasteful notion I see put forth more and more often, is that this stunted “netspeak” simply represents the changing nature of language, and should be left as. Certainly, language is ever-changing and the meanings of words shift by their very usage, but should we not question who is driving this change? Change is often attributed to some sort of elemental force, but in this case I think it’s safe to say it’s driven by human interaction. We don’t let a person ignorant to the rules of the road behind the wheel of a car, and I don’t see why people similarly ignorant to the basic laws of English should be left to drive it off a cliff into a quagmire of degeneracy.

My problem with this “netspeak” is not that people are modifying English, but that they haven’t sought to properly understand what is they are tinkering with. If you want to fix your car but you have absolutely no idea how it works, do you open up the hood anyway and start hammering at this and unscrewing that? Experimentation requires at least a basic understanding of the underlying principles of the subject, something that these web hooligans sourly lack.

Standard

The Way

Hello again genial reader.

For this entry I thought to mull a little more on the real purpose of this campaign, and how we might best achieve our lofty undertaking. There’s a popular entity upon the internet these days, the ‘grammar nazi’, those lamentable persons whose deference to language has pushed them to extremism. Those vigilantes who trawl social media with a predatory eye, publicly correcting and humiliating wherever they find mistakes. I must state this to be entirely the wrong approach, what does it do but breed antagonism and resentment? It only shows language to be authoritarian, something that must be obeyed for no reason other than the fear of more grammar police attacks.

No, this campaign must be one of liberty, freedom from the languid mind and the stunted vocabulary. If you feel compelled to correct someone, do so privately, and with great care not to offend their feelings. Being corrected, as we must have all experienced at some stage, is a sourly deflating affair. More important still, is for us to tend to our own handle of English. Simply communicating in sound English, across whichever internet platform, does much for anyone who reads it. Be consistent and precise and your friends will subconsciously pick up on various things; where an apostrophe ought not to go, how a particular word is correctly spelt, etc. Share good articles or books you’ve discovered, contact with clever, concise English is the best means to inspiring those afflicted by a void of proficiency. After all, the horse must want to drink. If the internet represents a sort of tug of war between the sloth induced pseudo-language and stoic, disciplined English then we should do all we can to tug back.

Standard

Our Old Friend

Hello kind readers.

This week I present to you the most potent weapons in battling lingual decay, of which an armoury exists to make the United States military seem a dilapidated Mexican Nerf Gun factory. I am alluding, of course, to books.

I’m not referring simply to language textbooks, though if you had vim enough to trek through one or two of those your efforts would doubtless be well rewarded. Any piece literature, of at least decent quality, enriches the reader not only in narrative and culture, but also in linguistic agility. It’s a truism that surely the more well read of us can attest to, it helps to expand one’s vocabulary, it makes it more easy to see if a misspelt word looks wrong, amongst countless other subtleties. Science says we have descended from apes, and evidently we have inherited that most auspicious capacity for ‘Monkey see, monkey do’.

It is important to discriminate in our selections, however, I might dare to say that reading Twilight may in fact have an entirely disadvantageous effect upon its hapless reader. Cheap shots like this are not to mean that popular books, or Twilight itself, are necessarily bad, but literature with an excellence in prose is certainly better to learn from.

With all these little points in mind, let me also give an enthusiastic recommendation to the public domain. Home to luminaries of the English language such as The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, Pride and Prejudice, Moby Dick and countless others that are triumphs of communication and firmly embedded into western culture. If that isn’t enough appeal, books in the public domain are freely available online and through various e-reading apps, and those who swear by analog manifestations will find the in-store paperbacks to be considerably cheaper than contemporary counterparts.

In the coming week I intend to use twitter and facebook for some specific recommendations, and to ask for some of yours!

Standard