The Pitiful Fall of the English Language | Teen Ink

The Pitiful Fall of the English Language

February 14, 2011
By aarnason8 BRONZE, Edina, Minnesota
aarnason8 BRONZE, Edina, Minnesota
1 article 0 photos 0 comments

The hair on the back of my neck stands up. Shivers run down my spine. My eyes squint in agony. No, I am not listening to nails scrape down a chalkboard; instead I see an incorrectly placed apostrophe. I was reading through emails, just like any other day, when I saw it. “The boy’s sweatshirts will be ready for pick up tomorrow.” The horror. The apostrophe should be placed after the s, not before, to show that the sweatshirts belong to more than one boy. This small, misplaced punctuation mark changes the meaning of the sentence and misappropriates ownership. Sigh.

Every day I see grammatical errors on the Internet, in emails, even in written form. I am concerned with how nonchalant we are with the way we communicate with others and the possible repercussions in the way we think. These changes in our communication and thought process could ultimately affect our language. After all, their are many people whom do not properly place there punctuation or use correct grammar (Well, what I meant to say is “There are many people who do not properly place their punctuation or use correct grammar).

Even publicly displayed signs contain glaring mistakes in the case of the apostrophe. For example, at my church, there is a parking sign for the auction winner. On it is written, “Reserved for Monchamp’s. Auction Winner.” Reserved for the Monchamp’s what? Their house? Their pet dog? The sign should in fact contain no apostrophe at all, and just read “Reserved for the Monchamps.” Less can definitely be more. One would hope the miscue may have been found by the church secretary or the maker of the sign, and then the proper sign be displayed.

With media all around us and widespread technological communication, the number of grammatical errors has gone through the roof. I have to repress the urge to comment on Facebook posts along the lines of “Theirs a new Glee on tonight!” or respond rudely to a text that says “I’ll meet you their!” Distinguishing between they’re, their, and there is a lesson taught over and over again in school as early as third grade, so it suggests that the offenders are being lazy. As communicators, we should show more pride in our written work.

This laziness has more consequences than my own irritation. In fact, it is starting a very dangerous trend. As adults make these mistakes in emails and or the errors appear written in public, young people receive the message that it is not important to care about correct grammar. Children follow the lead of the adults around them, and the use of language is not an exception to this anthropological pattern. As mistakes become more common and no one works to correct them, our language as we know it deteriorates. The meanings of words are altered, and the prestige of the English language declines.

Thankfully, there is an uncomplicated way to revise these behaviors. Simply, one has to take less than five seconds to check over what he or she wrote. Believe it or not, this quick examination can cause one to realize their grammatical errors. If everyone were to undertake this description, then our English language would stay polished for many generations to come. And, the hair on the back of my neck will relax, the shivers down my spine will stop, and my eyes will be free of agony.

The author's comments:
Honors English assignment "Insightful Observation"...Hope you enjoy my observations!

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This article has 2 comments.

on Feb. 21 2011 at 4:56 pm
Hawthorn BRONZE, Nowheresville, Maine
3 articles 0 photos 55 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Know Thy Enemy" Sun Tzu

Finally! my friends are always on my case for being (in their view) the evil grammar lady.

Arabella said...
on Feb. 21 2011 at 3:36 pm
Thank you! I am like this too; my main pet peeve seems to be commas. This is probably due to the fact that I spent about five months in grammar class last year learning of their many wondrous uses. Boring, yes, but useful. :) I am the only kid I know who is apt to groan audibly (albeit quietly) upon spotting a horrid grammar mistake. It is good to know that there are other people who still care about this. :)