Is Correct Use of the English Language Doomed?

I am a grammar geek. That’s not to say I always get it right, but I love thinking about it and see grammar as a giant puzzle that deserves to be dealt with justly and correctly. After all, I grew up in the age of sentence diagramming, which I loved and still think of fondly.

I am also an English teacher. I teach college students whose idea of grammar is to see how many letters they can eliminate in a word to have it still make sense: u, imho, lol, among many, many others

The students I teach are mostly serious students and good people. The course I teach is an upper level course that focuses on business writing. One of its main premises is that the students come to it equipped with the skills of grammar, and if lacking, it is up to them to seek remedial help.

Ha!

The other day I administered an exercise having to do with subject-verb agreement, sentence structure, punctuation, and a short essay. Granted, some of the questions were on the complex-side, but theoretically, questions these students should be able to handle. The results were abysmal.

I’m in mourning as I watch the purity of my lovely language losing out to the era of text messages, disappearing photos, and beyond-casual email.  In fact, I am appalled at the some emotionally-charged, poorly formatted and incompetently-written emails that come across my desk from students these days.

What is the answer? I declare that there is none. The language will evolve or dissolve and the question now is, does anybody care?

Nick DiChario

Reader, writer, life-long mistake-maker

Judith Shenouda

Author of Living Well in Froggy's World of Plenty: Sweet Talk to Read Aloud; A Bisl of This, A Bisl of That: Eating Our Way; and Career Success in 12 Easy Steps: A Journal; and Owner of Shenouda Associates Inc., Provider of Technical, Marketing, and Business Communications

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