Have you ever heard someone say, “I ain’t gonna…” or “I ain’t got?” Or have you heard someone who uses “F—K” as every other word in a sentence? Personally, when I hear poor language skills it’s like chalk on a blackboard.

words 5Our use of words does mean something. I graduated from college 50 years ago which makes me a dinosaur. I learned the importance of words through the writing skills I developed. Whether you write technical pieces, news stories, blogs or are a high profile figure you already know the importance of words and their meanings. You know that what you deliberately omit may be as important as what you include. For many writing something on the Internet apparently that concept has eluded them. Could sloppy writing be a result of Internet anonymity? Possibly but that discussion is for another day.

words 2Generations after mine have been brought up relying upon technology such as “spell check” or “sentence fragment” or “add to dictionary.” Why bother learning to spell when the Internet will do it for you? Why bother to construct a sentence when the Internet will do it for you? Why omit the use of profanity when you can add it as an acceptable word to your online dictionary? When Twitter requires one to write in a 140 characters it causes proper English usage to disappear.

This election cycle has exacerbated how we use words. No longer is there discussion of issues. Today if one does not agree on the facts…ignore them…go for the jugular and attack the person using a litany of words such as homophobe, racist and on and on and on. The words we use and the labels we give one another have virtually destroyed civility. Society has degenerated into a hoard of name calling hysterics.

I learned many years ago, that poor grammar and profanity are for the under-educated person who does not have the skills to use appropriate words. That concept may have changed as younger generations mimic idols in sports and entertainment. Today it is important to dress like, to act like and to speak like your idol. We have become a nation of conformity and sloppiness on the other…but that discussion, too, is for another day.

Calling someone an a—hole is so imprecise when the reason for describing someone that way is an undefined action or behavior. Usingwords 6  “ain’t” is not chic or trendy. It’s become shorthand and is a lazy way of communicating.

words 3Words are so utterly powerful. They can be used to lift someone up or drag someone down. They can be used to flatter, cajole or persuade or they can be used to denigrate and humiliate. Words can move the souls of an entire nation, with “We hold these truths to be self evident…” or “I have a dream…” Words have compelled people to perform beyond their wildest dreams and have caused others to rampage and kill. It is a timeless lesson for all of us…use your words wisely.

© Joyce Clark, 2017               


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