Oral Fixations

Wednesday, May 14, 2008
Arrrggghhhh! Nothing makes this pirate captain angrier than having to listen to the butchering of her native language. And I blame Heather for the following rant as it was her post on bus-riding etiquette that set me to thinking about this.

Now I’m not talking about people whose first language is not English. They get cut a lot slack and I have enormous respect for people able to learn a second language…especially English and all its wonky grammatical rules and weird spellings. No, I’m talking about those folks out there who feel the need to use the word LIKE after every few words. For example: Why are you, like, messing with me? Like, what are you, like, talking about, you moron? I, like, went to the mall and, like, he was totally, like, waiting for me. It was, like, totally bitchin. You can also insert the phrase YOU KNOW instead of LIKE. Same effect and just as annoying. Typically, this type of behaviour is found in the younger generations (god…I’m now officially old) but it’s surprising how it’s filtering slowly upwards into the older age brackets.

Today on CBC Radio (either Sounds Like Canada or Wild Rose Country, I can’t remember), one of the hosts was interviewing a rancher who had moved from Alberta to Saskatchewan. Now this man was at least in his 40s, based on the experience he had in his various fields of employment, and could possibly have been older. It was a struggle for this man to put a simple sentence together. Every other word seemed to be “ya-know”. It was extremely frustrating listening to him for the few minutes he was on the air.

And then, who can forget the people (again mostly younger but not limited to one generation of speakers) who feel the need to use various expletives throughout the conversations? This is made even more frustrating when it is done over a cell phone on the bus in a louder than appropriate voice. Another example, “Why are you XXXXing with me? What the XXXX are you talking about, you XXXXer? I XXXXing went to the XXXXing mall, and she was XXXXing waiting for me. It was totally XXXXing bitchen.” I don’t mind if people swear. I do it myself (often at inappropriate times and sometimes far too often but never like the example above). I feel there ARE times when swearing is appropriate and occasionally necessary. Perhaps the problem lies in the fact that most swear words, as is evident from the example, can be used as verb, adverb, adjective, and noun….

Is this what our language is evolving into? Our overseas cousins must be shuddering behind their cuppas at our complete and utter disregard for language.

It does appear to be most prevalent among the youth of today but is it really their fault? Why aren’t their parents correcting their speaking habits? And teachers? No offense to Canada’s teachers, I’ve had some great ones, but the teaching standards seemed to have dropped dramatically since I was in school. Hello! Correct their spelling! Correct their grammar! Don’t pass students that merely get it ‘close’. My stepsisters (twins) were separated into different classes beginning in third grade (I think). One was taught using phonics, the other using whole word. The difference as they went up through the school system was astounding. The one taught phonics did far better than her whole word sibling. Phonics breaks words down into their bits and helps you, at least in my opinion, understand the meanings of new words based on their suffixes and prefixes, amongst many other benefits (can you tell I was Hooked on Phonics?)

And then there’s texting and email. With the introduction of these forms of communication, we’ve acquired a new form of short hand: WTF, ROTFLOL, LOL, CUL8R, BRB, etc. With our need for instant information, instant responses and more time to multi-task at all the things we supposedly need to do all at once (another post entirely!), we’re transferring the language (and usage of language) from these technologies into our oral communications.

I’m not the world’s most eloquent speaker. Far from it. My vocabulary isn’t as advanced as some but is above average, as are my reading skills but I often use fairly simple language. However, even that simple use of English is far more advanced than the majority of folks out there I encounter on a daily basis. This has nothing to do with class, level of education, ethnic background, or where you grew up. Its about being able to string three or four words together to make a simple sentence. It’s really not that difficult folks. Can we all just try a teeny tiny bit harder? ‘Cause, like, if you XXXXing don’t, I’m LIKE going to go all XXXXing pirate on your, mother-XXXXing ass, you know?


kelly said...

I rarely swear, not that it offends me but I see it way to F****** over used. I don't even use hell, damn etc much, not sure why...hmm I'll have to fix that

Oh, and I was not talking about any cat person in particular, there are too many to mention

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