The Use–and misuse of Grammar in today’s world
In today’s world, there are a lot of rather unusual ways English grammar comes to the forefront of everyday life. Take the rap industry for example. They’ve come up with what may be labeled a new language altogether.
Terms that don’t exactly appeal to the best senses of say—a Harvard law professor have become commonplace in this industry. Endearing epithets such as “What up, dawg?” have become modus operandi in this billion-dollar business. Both black and white rap artists have come to understand that employing proper English will get them nowhere.
Then there are professional sports where athletes are able to go an entire two seconds without making a grammar mistake. It’s the norm for people who enjoy severing other people’s limbs from the rest of their bodies to speak in terms that might result in a high school English teacher suffering permanent psychological damage.
So how come so many of today’s celebrities don’t speak good English? We might look towards socio-economic factors or lack of education in underprivileged neighborhoods as some of the reasons for this phenomenon, but bad neighborhoods have always existed—just like social impediments to mass literacy. Perhaps, it has to do with the Internet age.
People no longer find it necessary to learn proper English because they have online tools like spell check and even if they make mistakes that scare the daylights out of the intellectual elites and oftentimes lead to misunderstandings that lead to jail sentences, these are for the most part overlooked or written off as “not important.” After all, it’s the meaning behind words—not the words themselves that count, right? Wrong!
Social media is a perfect example of the importance of language skills. As someone who’s been deeply involved in a number of political campaigns, I appreciate the importance of examining every Facebook/Twitter post a number of times before allowing thousands of savvy Internet consumers to read sentences that sound like the first words from a newborn’s lips. No wonder some of today’s major media outlets employ professional editors to check every minor nuance about to hit the printing press—or the World Wide Web since we’re talking 2015.
Rap and professional sports should perhaps follow their lead and hire PR specialists to minimize the damage to their clients’ reputations. I don’t have the statistics, but I’d venture to guess former Bulls great, Michael Jordan, who possessed excellent communication skills and always went the distance to make solid points presented through fluid discourse, was able to accumulate greater wealth and popularity by conveying ideas and allowing the not-always-friendly media a glance into his inner world.
It seems like to a large degree, athletes that competed prior to the mid-90’s were better-mannered and more smooth when it came to interaction with the media. I believe a large portion of that has to do with higher educational standards that appear to have been in place.
Grammar in both verbal and written communication adds more to people’s public perception than most can imagine. A single mistake on a job resume can lead to immediate rejection and clumsy use of terminology in political speeches have led to grave consequences on more than one occasion in recent memory.