Saturday, November 7, 2009

Language Fail in Progress

Can I tell you how bad is it, my English?

I don’t mean to harp on these ESL folk. They are doing a great job learning the language of innovation. In 90% of cases their English is LEAPS AND BOUNDS ahead of my Slovak (or Turkish, as it may be). So kudos. And besides, when girls struggle to properly engineer phrases, it makes me smile. The backwards grammar they employ is more often than not, hilariously attractive, for a reason that still eludes me.

HOWEVER, it’s not all good. Between my (former) colleagues and my flatmate, I hear a lot of people speaking English as their second language. It’s not a bad thing either though, just another observation. I appreciate their efforts. Without them, I would have zero friends. FURTHERMORE, I am able to appreciate that mastery of spoken and written English is a tricky task. Unfortunately for me though, I’m something of a language copycat. I don’t know how else to describe it. Maybe it’s my extreme empathy, or desire to mitigate conflict, but I often find myself absorbing and repeating the catch phrases of the people around me. My dad says he does something similar, so maybe I can blame genetics. It is a phenomenon that has been with me as long as I can remember, and one that I constantly, try to consciously subvert. The symptoms now are worse than ever, having progressed from acute to chronic in the last few months. Despite my persistent efforts to catch myself, my language has become subject to follies. No longer am I mimicking buzzwords or slogans, but the language structure spewed by the ESL majority.

“I’ll catch you up tomorrow” I shout to a parting friend. “What the hell does that even mean?” I immediately ponder. Self-loathing follows. The most common case is the mixing up of noun-subject agreements in sentences. To list the flurry of examples that come to mind would be downright shameful.

In drafts of these blog posts, not to mention my every day interactions, I find myself composing sentences with structure so off it’s as though they’re afflicted with some unique literary strain of scoliosis. I have to read every word, sure that I won’t embarrass myself with grammatical slip up, after grammatical slip up. Actually, had it not been for this blogging experiment I think it’s safe to say that the erosion of my language skills would be far, far worse. All thanks and praise to the mighty Google for allowing me this pulpit from which to practice my prose.

And of course thanks to you, conscientious reader, for your patience and understanding as I try to keep my purposeful command of the English word from atrophying or disappearing altogether.


  1. Yes, well, it's your fault that I use the word 'slash' all the time now. Slash, hurts doesn't it?