Saturday, May 27, 2006

Am I A Grammar Snob?

As quoted by our President, George W.
Bush:

" Rarely is the question asked: Is our children
learning?"

-Florence, South Carolina; January 11,
2000

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Overheard in conversation at Sabi's gymnanstics class by two parents

"Me and her didn't want none so we went home."

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Overheard at school by another teacher (so embarrassing!)

"I seen it."

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Overheard at the grocery store:

"Man! I didn't get no hot dog buns, I need to go back and get them."

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Why do so many people speak with such poor grammar? I just don't understand it. I was taught the proper grammar rules of both written and spoken language at school. I teach the same rules to my students today as a teacher. It can't be the fault of the schools. I think the fault lies in the homes.

When I was growing up, my brothers and I were taught the proper grammar rules by constant reinforcement in our spoken language by both our mother and grandmother. It was quite difficult at times to get a complete sentence out without being interrupted by one (and sometimes both at the same time) to correct our speech. I used to hate that so much. If we wanted to be heard, we had to do it correctly. My brothers and I rolled our eyes at this so many times that I am surprised that our vision wasn't damaged! I have to say though that I am so glad that my mom and grandmother did this for us.

The first month or two of school each year is spent with me torturing my students the same way that my mom and grandmother did with me. Around the thrid month though, the kids get it. When they talk to me they either say what they want to say correctly, self correct as they speak or are politely corrected by their peers. This should be happening at home. It obviously isn't.

There has been a lot of discussion recently about proclaiming English as a National Language here in the United States. Aside from all of the other reasons why this is a stupid initiative, why should we proclaim English as a national language when many of our citizens, even our own President can't even speak English correctly?

10 comments:

KJERRINGA MOT STROMMEN said...

I think George Bush does it because he seems to think the vox populi = "vox insipidus" - that speaking crassly will make him "one with the people" in spite of his millions and his actions that support only his wealthy buddies.

Also, I think that King George doesn't think any more when he declares a verb than when he declares a war. And the rest of us suffer because of it

Anonymous said...

You are your grandmother's granddaughter. My students know that we don't say, "Me and my friend.....", but it seems to be standard English elsewhere. Words like fart and butt also have become common fare, much to my chagrin. I'm not a prude about swearing or proper English, but there is less discretion these days about where, when, and how words and phrases are used.
While it's quite fine to call someone a bitch on a TV sitcom, it's not acceptable to call a liar a liar and terrorist a terrorist if they happen to be working for our government. --Margie

cindylu said...

My siblings used to hate it when I would correct their use of double negatives and other common spoken grammar mistakes. Eventually they understood that I was correcting them not to be a nagging older sister, but because I wanted them to be taken seriously and not be corrected by a mean or rude person.

GuusjeM said...

I hate that "went missing" seems to be acceptable and correct these days. Whatever happened to "is missing"? Or "was missing"?

Don't get me started, Texas abounds in bad grammar - and the shurb is a sterling example.

Nimitz' Lady said...

Amen! Amen! Amen!

I may occasionally use a double negative, or other poor grammar, but it's with deliberation, to make a point.

And the "went missing" thing, along with several others, drives me nuts.

I'm constantly correcting that in scripts to "disappeared" which is what the reporters really meant!

I used to hate it when my Mom would correct my grammar. Now I not only thank her for it, I also do the same with my son, who at the age of six can speak better than the shrub!

Nimitz' Lady

jennifer said...

i think that we should be educated to speak at differnet registers of english. if people want to speak informally--and use a bit of bad grammar here or there--when they are with friends or family, i think that's fine. however, i think that we should also be able to switch gears and speak a proper english--like cindylu said--so that we are taken seriously as intelligent and competent people as well.

all that sad, those comments that you recorded on your post would really grate on my nerves as well!

MsAbcMom said...

KMS:
I am feeling you Mom!

Margie:
I just had to smile when you said that I am my grandmother's grandaughter. Hee-hee!

CindyLu:
So true! I think that is the main thing, we aren't taken seriously if we don't use the proper English in the right settings.

GuusjeM and Nimitz:
Went Missing? It is like finger nails on a chalkboard.

Jennifer:
I agree with you. Something that my brother and I say on a regular basis, to each other, is "where you at?" We only say it to each other both out of bad habit and probably because we know it gets on my mom's nerves.
(sorry mom!) :-)

As far as social register is concerned though we just have to be careful that we either do it wihout the kids being present or let the kids know what the standard is and isn't. The reason I say this is because the kids just repeat what the adults say. They need to learn it correctly first and then learn how to play with it.

KJERRINGA MOT STROMMEN said...

MsABCmom: "They need to learn it correctly first and then learn how to play with it." -- Well stated, daughter of mine

MsAbcMom said...

Yeah, I guess that you, Grandmother and I are all a bunch of grammar nerds!

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