Dumbing Down Our Language   Leave a comment

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Above:  Crater Lake, Crater Lake National Park, Oregon, July 1942

Photographer = Lee Russell (1903-1986)

Image Source = Library of Congress

Reproduction Number = LC-USF34-073146-D

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Language matters to me, for I am a man of letters.  I am also a grandson of an English teacher, so much of my grandmother’s concern and care for the English language has become my own.  Thus increasingly frequent assaults on the English language bother me.  Some examples follow:

  1. Confusing “it’s” and “its;”
  2. Confusing a possessive form of a word for its plural form;
  3. Using “impact” as a verb in the absence of an event resulting in a crater or wedging something or someone in somewhere;
  4. Writing or speaking of how someone “impacted” the world, community, et cetera, or of how “impactful” something is;
  5. Mistaking the singular form of a word which ends in -ist for its plural form; and
  6. Using the passive voice (in news reports, for example) when we know the identity of the actors.

So:

  1. I do not want to read or write about laws were passed by a state legislature or how hot drinks were distributed at a coffee shop;
  2. Nobody has impacted me, but many people have influenced and affected me;
  3. Good books have proven influential and memorable, but never impactful;
  4. “Colonist” is singular and “colonists” is plural;” and
  5. Nothing has gone to the dog’s.

It’s true.

Our English language deserves more care and respect than many of those who speak and write her take with her.  Clear message-sending, a stage in effective communication, requires correct use of the language.  If what I have observed regarding the degradation of common English is a portent for the future, I weep for that time to come.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

SEPTEMBER 10, 2014 COMMON ERA

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