A few months ago, my little cousin was having some trouble with her 4th grade English homework. The lesson was on contractions. And, as the sole English major in the family, I was volunteered to help. Fortunately, her problem was a common grammar mistake that plagues everyone early on: the confusing threesome known as “their”, “there”, and “they’re”. After a few minutes of explanations and practice… voila! There was another grammar whiz in their midst. Unfortunately, I cannot say the same for the majority of my Facebook and Twitter friends, most of whom have a college degree; they’re the people who should know better.
The more I watch the news, listen to speeches, and read online, the more I realize how low our nation’s grammar standard actually is. It has been seen that children are not using correct grammar on social media websites, that young professionals misuse grammar frequently in the workplace, and that our politicians reserve the right to edit all quotes before they go to press. Where has good grammar gone? Is it an archaic function in society that needs to be modified to fit new formations of speech?
I sometimes feel like the analytical Sandra Bullock in Two Weeks’ Notice who finds a split infinitive in the middle of a dating proposal. However, I am not the only one. My high school Speech and Debate teacher cringed when she heard “wreck-on-ize” instead of “wreck-og-nize”. My work colleague fumes when he reads “additionally” instead of “in addition to”. My boyfriend drops his jaw at the use of the made up word “irregardlessly”. There are still people out there who are concerned with grammar – from all subjects, ages, and interests.
With influential literacy campaigns on the rise, there is a huge opportunity for people to learn the importance of language. It binds us together as a culture and gives us an equal playing field to express our thoughts, ideas, and opinions. Without grammar, words have less meaning and less of an impact on the world. What does that mean for you? Keep reading! Join in the #summerofmagic and get involved. Become an ESL tutor. Donate books. Share. Remember: the power we have is love… of reading.
In a recent WSJ article, it has been said that “language is the soul of culture”. And don’t we HP fans know it. It has been JK Rowling’s use of language – her ability to reach young and old audiences, reinvent Latin words, and construct a world out of carefully chosen adjectives- that has brought us together as a magical community and created a fandom culture. It is incredible, and quite magical, that such young children voraciously devoured book after book, wanting to read more than ever. It is just as incredible that a generation of readers was created by this series. However, what happened to everyone else?