Thursday, January 28, 2021

What is in everyday language?

Someone once said that language was only invented to stop people from communicating!
How true.

“Let us make a special effort to stop communicating with each other, so we can have some conversation,” said American journalist, Judith Martin.
Language abuse has pervaded humankind and no tribe on earth has been able to escape it.

The everyday misuse of verbs and nouns is an absolute atrocity! The neglect and repeat of so many words that have no capitalization is a downright shame!
Ever got irritated with our “so normal” lingo where we mix languages?

Giving a vote of thanks at a groundbreaking ceremony at Broadhurst on Friday, Keletso Rakhudu, Assistant Minister of Finance and Development Planning, said he had a choice to either speak in Setswana or in English.
“But I am not going to use either one of them,” he said. “I will speak to you in TswaEnglish.” Oh, dear me.

It happens daily, on the radio, at workplaces, on television, even during lectures at the university, costing non-tswana speaking students a lot.
Why not just use one language understood by all?
For example, one may say, “mme kana, but I can manage”. That person would have repeated the word but I don’t know if it’s cool or fashionable or maybe it is normal; inherited from the older generation, perhaps.

If I had any courage I’d get out of my chair and become an activist. I’d get all hysterical and pace the streets, waving my placards and yelling at passing strangers!

I’d gather people into marching circles, inciting them to chant things like “Stand Up For Our Language” or “Stop the Slaughter of Our Little Nouns.”

Perhaps I’m a little obsessive about the subject even. See that word “everyday”?

How many times have you read a webpage where somebody is talking about the vast sums of money rolling into his bank account “everyday”?

Doesn’t everyone who went to school know that “everyday” is an adjective? Our good friend could have said that money rolling into his bank account is an “everyday” occurrence and he’d have been a perfect little writer.
Or he could have said that he receives money “every day”. How about all those highly motivated entrepreneurs encouraging their prospects to “setup” an account?

Why all this fuss about such a small issue, you ask? Well, for starters it’s not a small issue.

The new generation is going to be drawn to the habit too, and we will never get to writing and speaking good language with good constructed grammar. I know we have to devote most of our time to earning money; that’s a given.

But we who have chosen to use the written word as our vehicle for earning money have inherited a responsibility.
That responsibility is to preserve our language and to carry the banner for a higher standard.

The internet is probably the greatest offender of all time in terms of encouraging the destruction of our written word. So much of the emails I receive are littered with the untidy grammar born of carelessness, laziness, and basic literary ignorance. If anyone is going to stop this degradation of our written communication, it is us – the writers.

I would encourage each one of us to reach for a higher standard when composing our posts, comments, and email interactions. Online dictionaries and thesauruses are at our ready disposal.
I won’t even bother talking about SMS messages.

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