MakovskyThursday, August 7, 2014
Have you ever asked yourself, “What has happened to grammar?” Did it fade out of our lives slowly and silently? If your answer is yes, how did that happen, and how did we get sucked into this new device-dependent society that has no clue as to what correct grammar even looks like?
I think we all know what happened to our English language: Technology is what’s happened. The social interaction platforms that we are all too familiar with — Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, texting, cell phones, hashtags, video games and spellcheck — have become such an ingrained part of our daily lives that we, as Americans, are beginning to forget the practice of correct grammar. The simplicity of typing “Wut R U up 2?” seems second nature to us. Even Weird Al Yankovich, in case you missed it, is celebrating the loss of our grammar brain cells in a new video parody, “Word Crimes”, one of the many tracks on his new No. 1 Billboard Top 200 Album ‘Mandatory Fun’.
The changes in society wrought by the forces of technology and instant gratification have relegated correct grammar use to become an “ancient” memory that some young adults and teens cannot even recall. As a recent college graduate myself, I hate to admit that an increasing percentage of young Americans (and many others) are allowing grammar to slowly slip out of sight and have stopped caring about the simple logistics of grammar, proper punctuation and pronoun usage.
It seems to be even worse in the workplace, where you’d think good writing would remain immune from casual prose. The more casual aspects of informal email, texting and instant messaging are leaching into all forms of writing. Fortune 500 companies are spending more than $3 billion a year retraining employees in basic English, as reported by NBC Nightly News.
Office grammar, or the lack thereof, has become such an issue, some employers are even retraining their workers using business writing training programs and templates to try and eradicate this growing issue, reported The Wall Street Journal and Forbes. Some companies are even firing their employees for grammar offenses!
So, is there a correlation between poor grammar use and a decrease in customer service and employee profitability? The pro-proper grammar side believes that poor grammar clearly gives customers a less professional experience and therefore they could consider taking their business elsewhere. Some say that professionals should always use proper grammar for multiple reasons; to be polite, look professional and knowledgeable, and reflect well on their organizations.
The anti-grammar crowd posits that proper grammar is a dated practice and that as society evolves and changes, language should as well. For example, we no longer use words such as “doth protest” and “ye shall.” They believe that in a professional setting, informal and casual language is a way to “break the ice” with a customer or client and relate on a more personal level. Further, their stance is that many grammar are opinion based and there is no clear set of rules on when and where to use different punctuation options like commas. That being said, it seems there will always be an argument to be had between grammar police and those who prefer to speak casually and informally.
So, Wut iz upp with grmr thse dayz?? It certainly isn’t completely technology’s fault. Perhaps we as Americans, have subconsciously decided that bad grammar is the new normal. Either way, let’s make sure we take a lesson from Weird Al’s new single “Word Crimes” and recognize that it’s a good time for all of us to learn some grammar.