09 April 2010

Language Conservation

It is my goal to write a post to my blog without any grammatical or spelling errors. Wish me luck.

I’m the cranky (youngish) biddy who rants, given any opportunity, about the demise of civilization as we know it, rants usually brought on by some assault to the English language. For example, I once had a very respectable car that misspelled “gauge” on the dashboard (you know, where the gauges are). I have seen misspelled words in glossy big-circulation magazines, news crawlers, highway signs, and places you would strain to believe.

Even more pernicious than the simple misspelling, though, is the cringingly awful grammar. From poor sentence structure to appalling word selection, some modern media is almost too painful to be borne. It seems that as print media falls to the tidal-wave of internet use, online magazines and e-news carriers surge to fill the void. In too many cases, they fill it with text-ers, not writers. Word-hacks.

These media companies are not roadside produce stands conveying their messages by means of hand-lettered signs on pieces of cardboard pizza box. They are often well known and respected journals. Why, then, are they now comfortable unleashing a herd of word wholesalers on an unsuspecting public? Did the demands of a new market reality outstrip journalistic pride? Or is the internet seen as such an informal medium that beautiful prose no longer matters? Are the well turned phrase and the carefully selected word considered passé? Does this not create a new poverty to pass on to our children?

Here’s the interesting part. I have read blog entries so beautifully written as to put shame to the big-time online media mills. These are voices crying in the wilderness. It is as though a generation of instinctive journalists has been dislocated. The process of writing has so changed that one has to find a footing again in a spelling- and grammar-checked world. These brave souls are saying, “Okay. The world has changed, but there is still a place for a well crafted sentence.”

And so, I return to my stumbling effort. I admit that I am spending more effort than usual to shape this idea. A lot depends on getting it right. It’s like environmentalism: a few see the need to conserve, preserve, treasure up; they persevere until the rest of the world sees and agrees and is saved. For all my passion about preserving language, I am like the new recycler, sorting the plastics from the orange peels: what is worth keeping?

In language, as in litter, the packaging makes all the difference.

No comments:

Post a Comment