Language, Part I

We live in a country where people degrade others for speaking a different language. Our patriotism is gauged by how well one can butcher the English language. We have a President who simply cannot speak in public, no matter how well prompted or coached. He has had over five years to practice the art of public speaking— to learn grammar and proper syntax —and yet he cannot string words together in a coherent sentence unless it either includes an expletive, the phrase 9/11, or the word evil.

What example does this set for the children of his “no child left behind” program? What do we teach younger generations when we cannot speak or write in a fashion that resembles what they are supposed to be learning in school?

I will admit that I make mistakes all the time. When I have to adlib the announcements at church I usually find myself at a loss for words and just fill the empty spaces with a lot of “uhs.” When I look back over past posts or articles, I see grammatical and spelling errors, which I try and fix no matter how far back they go. I am not perfect, but I am okay with that. I just wish that we, as a nation, took more pride in our ability to communicate with one another effectively.

It took me four years of Masters level work to begin to string together coherent thoughts. It took my wife two years to train me in the use of punctuation and nuance in writing. I still struggle with word choice, comma placement, and other grammatical woes. However, I appreciate language and its ability to take readers inside the minds and hearts of those willing to write. I marvel at how a word can spark love or hate, grief or hope, peace or discomfort. When I describe the events of my life, I choose my words carefully. Whether it is mowing the grass, visiting The Citadel, or asking questions, I labor over the words I write.

I guess you could say that I have become a writing snob. I appreciate things that touch the soul and warm the heart. I also appreciate things that are well thought out and edited for errors. That is the blessing and curse of my existence at this particular moment. I can allow things to touch me in the deepest parts of my being; I can laugh with people as they celebrate the uncommon commonalities we all face. However, if I am going to speak in public or put something in writing I practice and I edit. I choose my words as carefully as possible so that people can grasp what I say in a non-defensive way. I have to wonder what kind of world we would live in if we said what we meant, meant what we said, and communicated in a way that showed respect for one another.

grace and peace



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