Before I answer the question posed in the title of this blog post, I must explain something. Recently I made a new friend online. Moein is a pre-university student learning English in Iran, and he wrote a few weeks back to let me know he enjoys my and Joshua’s blogs. I was SO flattered to have someone in Iran reading my blog that I wrote back. Our correspondence has been delightful, and it’s so great to get a true Iranian perspective, not just one I see on the news.
In his last email, Moein asked me to respond to some deep questions by way of blog post. I’ll be addressing each one individually, and I would appreciate other friends to chime in as well. I hope to stimulate some enlightening and entertaining conversation for Moein. Yay!
So then, over on the left side of the website here I have an “About” section. There I divulge that “I am passionate about God, Green living, good health, and the correct use of the English language.” What do I mean by “The Correct Use of the English Language” Moein wonders? Well, I mean this…
Too many Americans nowadays have little respect for our language. People constantly redefine words so that words lose their meaning. Some colloquialisms are inevitable, but (for example) when “bad” means good, and “good” means weak, the true weight of using the word “bad” to signify evil or “good” to mean wonderful (not mediocre) is completely lost. I wonder if this problem exists with the Persian language too (or even Spanish, of which I have a more than cursory knowledge).
In the United States popular culture has always redefined language, and to an extent I think this is good. It’s how the younger generation sets itself apart from the stodgy ways of the old. But when language can no longer adequately communicate, or you have to use SO many words to explain your thoughts (to get just the right meaning across, because simply saying what you mean could be misinterpreted by the hearer), language has lost its purpose.
There’s a movie called My Fair Lady that was filmed in the 1960s where one of the characters laments “Why Can’t the English Learn to Speak” in a catchy song. In the movie it was more of a class problem (upper/richer classes valuing proper use of language, lower/poorer classes demeaning it). I suppose upper, middle, and lower classes in the United States have the same issue, but it definitely seems to be more of an age gap.
What do you think?