Going, going, gone; The death of good English

I really miss those days when it was cool to speak and write good English. Remember those days? Those were the pre-mobile phone and social media days.

Communication was more straightforward back then. It is easy to understand what the other person was trying to say mainly because they said it the way it was; little or no abbreviations, minimal slangs or slangs that could be easily understood. All that has changed. Today you get a message from someone and you get a headache after reading just the first line. I mean what are you to do with a message that starts with “IMHO ICD?” Unfortunately, the dictionary cannot help you. So you have to spend precious time trying to understand the message this person is trying pass across. When you finally get it (for those who don’t move on quickly like me), you’re wondering why the person couldn’t just say “In my honest opinion, I can’t deal”. How hard could it have been to type that?

Our generation is getting very lazy and social media isn’t helping us. When the brilliant invention of mobile technology came to us, I remember having to shorten my words to make sure my message didn’t exceed one page for cost reasons. Back then, my brother never did this. He wrote his words out in full. I used to laugh at him and point out the fact that he was wasting money. He didn’t stop. I couldn’t get it. So one day I decided to ask why he didn’t stop. His answer was simple; “I don’t want my English to be corrupted”. He said, “Once I start shortening my words, it will become a habit and affect the way I write eventually”. I picked up on this and decided to write my words in full. This was hard for me. My Ijebu blood didn’t want to waste all that money on text messages but it was for a good cause. My English remains unadulterated.

Go on Facebook and Twitter today and you will see all types of English; the kind that will make Queen Elizabeth cringe in England. People are too lazy to spell words properly. They just don’t care. They spell the word as it is pronounced like children will do. That’s why someone will spell choir as ‘quire’ (I’m serious). What exactly is that? Don’t get me started on those that don’t know the difference between ‘their’ or ‘there’. And what about this ‘am’ tragedy. Yes it’s a tragedy. I don’t know where it started from but it really needs to end now. ‘I’m’ and ‘am’ are two different things. Honestly they are. Even in official emails you see people writing “am interested in joining your company”. It’s just wrong.

The sad thing is that only few people find this trend worrisome. Bad English seems to be the new cool. Articles and books are now filled with avoidable grammatical errors. It’s appalling. This bad trend is even affecting the way people speak. Instead of saying the word, people now prefer to say the abbreviation instead. Someone called me the other day and said’ “BTW Doyin things are not the way you are thinking”. I could literally feel my brain spinning. This was meant to be a formal conversation so I didn’t understand why the person couldn’t just say ‘by the way’.
Sometimes I feel like I’m fighting a lone battle but I will tell everyone who cares to listen; let’s go back to speaking and writing proper English. You may not know this but when you form the habit of writing bad English every time, you won’t be able to control yourself when it really counts. Here’s what I mean. While I was still working as an intern some years ago, I had to mark the scripts of graduates who had written assessment tests. My brain was in so much pain by the time I finished. Graduates were writing things like ‘d (the), xtian, hink (ink), waz (was), naija’ etc. Their scripts looked more like an extremely long text message. Needless to say they didn’t get to the next round of the recruitment process. I had the same experience while I was the VP of the editorial board as a youth corps member. I also doubled as the Sub Editor. I had to take Panadol frequently because of the amount of work I had to do to polish the poor grammar written by graduates.

Ladies and gentlemen, something has to be done. If we don’t do anything, things will only get worse. If you’ve watched the movie ‘Idiocracy’, you’ll understand what I’m talking about. Make the conscious effort to write properly. No one is asking you to be perfect. I go through my blog sometimes and I see one or two typographical errors that I didn’t catch while I was editing. All I’m saying is make an attempt to write and speak well. If you don’t know how to spell a word, use a dictionary. Spell check on MS Word is also your friend. Read good books that will improve your English. A little less ‘ye ye ye’ (*insert Wizkid’s voice*) and a little more intellectual content. And young men, not every time ‘Waddup’; sometimes ‘Hello. How are you doing today?’

I rest my case.

Photo Credit – Feveravenue.com

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