I’ve been teaching English far too long, and I know it because what professionals do to the English language grates on my nerves like nails on a chalk board. Notice, I said professionals. I do not go about town with my red pen to mark up the speech of people on the street. People on their own time can talk however they want to. However, professionals on national television, bankers, lawyers, and teachers of any subject should have the ability and enough pride to use good grammar.
Nights when I settle in to watch the news, invariably an advertisement for Lipitor or some other legal and expensive drug comes on, recommending it for every person in the whole world except for “women who are nursing, pregnant, or may become pregnant.” Please think about that expression for a minute. Does it make any sense? Certainly, we understand what it means, but my hackles stand up every time I hear it. The sentence is not parallel. It’s poorly worded. If these drug companies have enough money to squander on national television commercials, surely they have enough to hire a grammarian to edit the copy. My better high school seniors could do it. A real professional would require about two seconds to reword this copy so as to avoid hurting American ears sensitive to grammar. For example, “women who are nursing, pregnant, or who may become pregnant” should not take Lipitor.” That isn’t so hard. One little three letter word fixes the problem.
I wonder why we have so much trouble mustering up a bit of good grammar. A few years ago, I had a class with a young lady about to graduate from Georgia Southern. As a matter of fact, she already had a teaching job in a neighboring county as an English teacher. Her confession of weak grammar scared me. Throughout seventeen years of school, she’d avoided learning even the grammar basics and was about to go into the classroom to share her lack of knowledge.
I believe English teachers especially, but all teachers in general, should speak correctly. After all, they model everyday for the students entrusted to them. I went for a parent/teacher conference once, and the teacher said to me, “I knew Jakey was proud ‘cause when he stood up and done his’n, he just beamed all over his face.” I almost fell out of my chair. This woman who called herself a teacher was undoing in the classroom what I’d taught him at home.
English teachers with bad grammar are the worst examples of all. One cannot teach what he does not know.
Today we tend to depend on grammar checker to mend our comma splices and subject/verb problems, but those computers don’t know nearly as much as they think they do. Spelling errors they might be able to fix, but complex grammar is too much for them. The use of who and whom completely befuddles a computer. Josh called me once from Georgia Southern to consult his English teacher mama about a sentence. The computer insisted that he use who but Josh thought whom correct. I concurred, but he went with the computer and earned the fury of his English professor.
“I told you so,” I scolded. “You’ll learn to listen to a computer instead of me.”
I know I’m not the only one bothered by bad grammar because people point errors out to me all over the place - on billboards, in the grocery store, in church bulletins, in newspapers and magazines. Though I do sympathize, nothing raises my blood pressure so much as the Lipitor commercial. Perhaps I need to listen for a commercial for hypertension and see if it uses the same wording. Most of the ads for medicines do standardize this incorrect usage.
If changes aren’t made, the death of grammar is imminent. Imagine the obituary if you can.
English Grammar died on August 4, 2008 and we hate to loose this fine citizen he will be missed. Teachers’ all across the country, will dress theirselves in black. Funeral arrangements ain’t been made yet. Their will be services at a later date. Send condolences two any body whom cares.
Sorry, there are no recent results for popular commented articles.