I was NOT the brightest candle on campus while in high school. Most of my contemporaries knew that. And, my worst subject was English (that’s what we called it back in the Stone Age). I could barely spell my name much less tackle conjugation and all that other stuff. So, I finagled my way out of those classes and substituted Glee Club or Home Economics in place of English (and Math).
Much to my chagrin, in the 53 years of gainful employment, nearly ALL my jobs required me to know and use Math and English! So, in order to survive in those fields I had to self-teach myself, since as a dunce, I didn’t avail myself of those very subjects that were taught in school. I managed to come through okay. Still it was a substantial struggle.
Having established the groundwork, I feel that I need to address some issues that I have and still am exposed to in today’s society – few people use correct English – in speaking and in writing!
After leaving the US Army I found myself in radio broadcasting, as Engineer (Math). That quickly migrated into announcing (English) and it was then that I learned my voice was not of that pristine quality that it should have been. So, I worked on that.
But, in the course of my employment I had to give hourly newscasts that required me to “rip & read” the news from our Teletype printer. Usually I didn’t have time to “proof-read” it, just present it as it was sent. Fortunately the news editors at the Associated Press were good at composition and SPELLING, so I learned a lot from that, including how to pronounce difficult foreign names and places.
I carried those acquired skills with me when I began work at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. I was working with highly-skilled, college-trained individuals (I personally had not attended college) but I quickly noticed that in their conversation and especially their writing, they didn’t know English! Unfortunately I see more and more of that today.
There are a number of words and phrases that stand WAY out. Included amongst them are: there instead of their, I in place of me (relative to sentence structure), “instigated” rather than “initiated“, “to” for “too” and the most irritating one of all, “notoriety (notorious)” instead of “fame (popularity)” (notoriety means “The state of being known for some unfavorable act or quality“). Nearly every newscaster on TV uses that last one – incorrectly – when touting the accomplishments of a person.
And, there’s the one: “No Problem” in response to a “Thank You“. It sounds so much nicer to say “You’re (not Your) Welcome” instead of intimating that it could have been a problem for the thing you are thanking them.
Unfortunately, and I CAN call the pot black because I am somewhat of a teacher, many teachers impart the same errors unto their students. I have been trying to figure that one out for years since it happens most everywhere.
Much of it I can attribute to regional or environmental influence; we’ve just talked that way all our lives! A friend of mine worked at Tennessee Eastman in Kingsport in the Engineering department. He graduated from a reputable university yet, 30 years later his speech is in the dialog of his “upbringing”. In short, he probably knows the correct way to converse but “we just talk that way . . . ” .
If you notice comments on Facebook or similar sites where people express themselves, you’ll see what I am talking about.
I am very strong on requiring (and it IS required when a person legally becomes a US citizen) that all foreigners who come to this country to live must learn the English language. But it would be much easier for them if WE roat & spoke it kerektly.