Sensitive post coming up again. I'll get lynched after this one for real. I'm serious. I'm hence putting up a disclaimer before I commence.
The views in this post are mine and mine alone. You may think I'm shallow, petty or judgmental based on the post. And I'm perfectly ok with all of those labels. But I'm not extending the scope of my opinions to anyone beyond myself. My style will stay questioning, but you do not have to agree with what I'm saying. Just think about it and chew on the thoughts in your head.
Pls to very kindly note all the above at the very outset.
Imagine you're listening to a speech. Intended to be power packed and inspiring. Intended to send a thrill down your spine and get you abuzz with excitement.
Now imagine the same smattered with grammatical errors, space fillers or incorrect usage of words. We all know grammatical errors. Those don't need explaining. Space fillers would be anything in the vicinity of "Ummmmmmmmmmm", "You know", "Errrrrrr", "So" and the like repeatedly inserted where they simply do not belong. Incorrect usage in spoken communication would be "Testimonial" used instead of "Testament" and the like. Incorrect usage in written communication would be "Compliment" used instead of "Complement".
You get the drift?
How do you feel after reading the above? If you're a grammar nazi like me, you're cringing deep down inside at how the language is being abused. More than anything, you're lamenting the loss of great content to poor delivery.
I'm not saying I'm holding people at fault for speaking in poor english. Understandably, not everyone had access to English education or books when they were young. Admittedly, some children grew up in more "English friendly" environments than others. Some were lucky to pick it up from family and friends while others had to struggle and look outside to grasp the language that would eventually become an essential part of their daily life.
I'm saying, I simply cannot seem to get over judging poor delivery. Errors in usage irk me no end. Even the best of speeches loses its charm for me coz i find incorrect English so distracting. It becomes a monumental effort to stay focused on the message when my subconscious is correcting the person as he / she talks. Which is my loss at the end of the day I guess.
But that brings me to my key question (as it does in every blog post!)
Should we as a generation hone our childrens' English speaking abilities considering it could be a driver to their success? Don't jump the gun on the answer yet. Think about it for a while.
Didn't your batchmates with fluent English speaking skills usually find it easier to crack interviews? Didn't you find that they sometimes (only sometimes, mind you!) got away with not so great content simply coz their style and delivery was impeccable, impressive even?
Don't you find that its easier at work to communicate with people who can grasp this language well? Their thoughts as well as your own, even in the midst of arguments, become easier understood simply coz they're better articulated.
Doesn't it become easier, in an increasingly cosmopolitan and globally seamless environment to have a spouse or parent who can speak in English to be able to connect with your circles?
All things being equal: Intelligence, Content and Charisma, if you had to choose between someone with flawless delivery and someone who made constant language errors as they spoke, wouldn't you be inclined to find the former more engaging?
And the simplest measure, in your day to day interactions, don't you find that people who are extremely comfortable with the language can breeze in and out of topics effortlessly, expressing themselves articulately, in the process eliciting approving nods?
I do. I find myself mesmerized by good speakers. That's not to say I can't see through fakes. They're pretty easy to spot. But I find myself being terribly impressed and connecting very very well to people who have:
1. Clarity of thought (assuming the willingness and ability to think!)
2. The ability to translate that thought into expression in a language that's familiar to me (English is the most common given the social and work environments I operate in)
Am I hopelessly shallow? Maybe I am. But I write this judgment evoking post here in the blogosphere coz I know its filled with others who love the language and nurture it through their own writing. Is this "shallowness" necessary baggage for someone who loves the language as I do? Or should I dismiss it as a personal flaw? A consequence of being harsh and non understanding of others' backgrounds?
And more importantly, do you think the idea has merit? Encouraging our children to pick up English much better with the cognizance that it will be the language of the future and that an advantage in expressing themselves in this language will give them that tiny, yet essential edge to make a great impression wherever they go?