“Why can’t the English teach their children how to speak?” asked Professor Henry Higgins in the musical “My Fair Lady.” It’s a very good question for Americans now days.
I recently was in a movie theater and two young women sat behind me. They were talking rather loudly. In just a few minutes I counted 16 “likes” and “you knows” from just one of them. It went this way: “And then she was like blah, blah, blah and then he was like blah, blah, blah, and I was like blah, blah, blah, you know.”
As an adverb, “like” means nearly, closely or approximately, as in the experience was like jumping off a high diving board. This is perhaps the most familiar use of the word like but there are others.
The NBC News Correspondent Edwin Newman penned two books concerning the mistreatment of English. Some of his least desired words are heard inside airports. Newman grew irritated when airline employees spoke of a “podium“. This is defined by Merriam-Webster as a low wall, serving as a foundation or terrace wall or a dais especially for an orchestral conductor, and not a desk. He was also confused when they invited certain passengers to “pre-board” the airplane, which he noted was impossible. One can board early, or board ahead of other passengers, but to “pre-board” is a contradiction.
When I was in school, English grammar was required, not an optional. We would diagram sentences and learned the proper use of words. We were taught when to say “me” and “I,” and the difference between there, their and they’re.
Clichés were once mostly used by young people and inexperienced writers. Today, clichés have crept into the language of people who should know better. These clichés include “needless to say” (then why bother to say it?), and “cautiously optimistic.” The Washington Post compiled a list of “200 journalism clichés … and counting” and these are only two of them.
Don’t get me started on TV hosts and reporters. They say, “As you can see……” Yes, we can. That’s because it’s called television. It’s not radio, it has pictures. “Shot in the encounter” was a favorite of a former news director at a TV station that I watched. I often wondered where the encounter was on your body.
Good English skills are vital to succeeding in life, in terms of career, and personal relationships. There are three main areas that have to be worked on, vocabulary, pronunciation, and grammar.
Then we have the word axe. What does it mean when you axe someone a question? Do you chop if into little pieces? I was walking to my car at Walmart when I overheard a woman on her cell phone (it wasn’t too difficult). It went. “I was literally in Walmart when she literally walked up to me and literally started an argument with me. I told her she had better literally get her act together or she was going to literally lose her kids.” Really? (pun intended)
The point is to learn English as a means of expressing ourselves that shows we didn’t just fall off a turnip truck (deliberate use of a cliché). What’s the point of teaching English if nobody learns it and it can’t be properly spoken or understood?
Speaking English lets you to truly broaden your world, including job opportunities and the ability to relate to people from every country.
Knowing proper English makes it much more interesting when traveling. Wherever you want go in the world, you will probably find someone who speaks English. If we count only the countries where the English language is the official language, the United Kingdom, U.S.A., Canada, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand and the Caribbean countries, there are more than 400 million native English speakers.
The statistics reveal that more than a quarter of the world’s population speaks English that means that about 1.6 billion people understand and relate with the help of the language of Shakespeare. To not mention that most of the films are in English, the largest film industry, Hollywood, is produced in English.
English also improves the quality of life. You have access to jobs that you could not even take into consideration, you can evaluate an international career and you can live in many countries with the ease of being able to go shopping or negotiate a rent for the house.
Simply put, we must recognize that English is an international language, the main language of this planet.
Over Christmas, I listened to a reading of the Welsh poet Dylan Thomas’s brilliant “A Child’s Christmas in Wales.” The delight of words, well-chosen and beautifully spoken, was thrilling and captivating. He makes you want to listen, as opposed to wishing to plug your ears.
The benefits speaking properly can bring in to life of a person is countless. It is important to know that the English language is able to knock down a lot of barriers, including cultural ones.
The English language allows us to relate to and therefore understand each other.
Could one of our Resolutions for 2019 be to speak better English?