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In Defense of the English Major

Submitted by Rachel on October 14, 2010 – 11:25 pmComments

As a writer of course I’m a complete grammar snob. I can’t help it. My life’s real passion is for reading and writing – and of course hoping someday someone will actually pay me for my own writing. I admit it can be a nerdy hobby - I get a kick out of poorly translated signs, i.e., on a Chinese rollercoaster: “People that get pregnant may not ride.” Hilarious. Most of the time I hide the fact that I think to myself “Apostrophes are possessive, NOT plural” more times than is healthy a day, or probably ever, really.  I’ve found your friends aren’t really that appreciative when you ask them what day they were absent from second grade that caused them to never learn the right form of “there/their/they’re.” (But really guys, what day?) I’ll throw it out there – if you’re a native English speaker who had the benefit of a full and formal education, and in your late 20’s you still think “I’ll come to you’re house later” is correct – LOOK IT UP! It’s not hard and won’t take long, and if you need a further reason, it certainly doesn’t look professional to be making basic errors. I get the need to pop in a “ur” when you’re texting or tweeting and have limited space, but the online lingo makes my brain itch. If I see any more people that are not 12 year old girls WriiTiN LyK DiZzZ, I will scream. Unless you are e.e. cummings, or some outrageously paid rap star, please write properly, at least in your correspondence to me. Grammar is important. Capitalization is the difference between helping your Uncle Jack off a horse and helping your uncle jack off a horse. Don’t be that guy.

from Davidbuckenglish.com

Communication is probably the single most important thing people do and have ever done, and most people take it for granted on a daily basis. From cave drawings to hieroglyphics to Chinese characters and our own alphabet, not to mention how many spoken languages there are in the world, communication is key. It’s always evolving and changing over time, and although I haven’t checked with the animal kingdom lately, my guess is we’re the only species keeping a written history, writing poetry, love letters, fictional stories, all of it. Think of the imagery and feelings conjured up in just one line by some of the best writers – Dylan Thomas’ “Rage, rage against the dying of the light” or Angelou’s “But a caged BIRD stands on the grave of dreams.”  I believe people show you who they are in their writing, and if you can find that perfect word, people connect across time and space. So do me a favor - read a classic novel & a current bestseller, find a poet you really love, write someone a love letter, or love e-mail if you must. Learn a new word and use it. (I recommend www.savethewords.org.) Think about it - each time you can add to someone’s knowledge or change how someone feels or sees things because of something you wrote, you are changing the world. It can be as simple as that.

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