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Editorial: The death of the English language


This news story was published on December 2, 2011.
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(Op-ed from JL Bach)

The death of the English language, or why “Shop Local” makes my ears hurt. – JL Bach

It has become apparent in recent years that the English language is on life support, and that the next of kin needs to be notified. We are bombarded daily by grammatical crimes, spelling and punctuation errors in print media, internet and radio and TV ads. We need look no further than our wonderful area ad campaign, “Shop Local”. My eight year old kid told me the other day “Dad, that sounds funny”, to which I replied, “That’s because it is incorrect, it should be shop locally”. Every time I hear that it makes my teeth grind. Yes Dalena, I’m talking to you and the rest of the Three Eagles staff, who purport to write ad copy for a living. “Shop” is a verb, and to do so in the immediate area is to do so LOCALLY, which is an adverb. Seriously, I’ll keep shopping on the internet until you people get it right and quit polluting the airwaves with bad grammar.

But this is by no means the end of it. We have heard radio ads from the Dodge dealer in recent years, begging us to come down and look at the great new trucks with a “Cummings” motor. Unfortunately, it’s “Cummins”, and every day these people went to work, they walked past a row of trucks with that on the fender, spelled correctly, in inch-high chrome letters.  Not to mention all the banners, shop manuals and sales brochures in the dealership which spell it Cummins. Are modern people this ignorant, or do they feel they are entitled to their own version of the English language?

And who can miss the job postings on the Globe Web page? Whoever enters this information is either a horrible speller or typist, and you are taking honest work away from someone who would get it right. Every week we see words like “respresenatives” and “administators”. Good lord, thousands of people read this information, do you not know how to use Spell Check? (Go look quick before they fix it, or wait until next week, they’re bound to get it wrong again). What’s really wrong with this picture is that companies pay a lot of money for those ads, and candidates search for job postings by using key words, which they presumably are spelling correctly. Your only hope as an employer is that your candidate misspells the key word wrong and finds your ad. Now there is a match made in heaven, right?

What concerns me most is that Iowa is supposed to be one of the most literate states in the nation. Lord only knows what the reading and comprehension level is in some of the poorer states. I was recently shown a job application for a manufacturing plant, with the candidate proudly stating that he had graduated from “Graner-Hayfeld” schools. Yep, got them both wrong. Now, seriously kid, you walked by the sign every day for four years, not to mention probably lived in that town every day since you were a little kid, and you can’t even get it right on a job application? And where is the parent in this situation? Why aren’t more people marching down to the schools and asking why their kid can go to a school for four years and not even manage to spell the name of the school correctly? Are these the same citizens that get outraged when companies send their jobs overseas? Well don’t blame the companies. If they can get an ISO 9000 certified worker in a foreign country that knows the English language better than your slacker kid with his nose stuck to a video game more power to them.

Honestly, I’ve heard at least four grown, educated adults tell me they had a family member or co-worker come down with “ammonia” in the past week. And if you don’t know why that is so horribly funny and just dead wrong, then you are part of the problem.

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