Limited vocabulary, poor grammar cloud communication

Samantha Lamb

Our school and society as a whole face a big problem with language and vocabulary. It is now widely considered acceptable to use profanity in normal conversation and in the classroom. People get away with using small words when a higher vocabulary helps give more detail and is more precise. The language used for texting is particularly atrocious; letters and words are different, but apparently people have forgotten this.

Some people believe it is acceptable to cuss simply because the words are in the book they are reading aloud. Does that mean it’s acceptable to form a Fascist government, have an ugly mustache, and start the Holocaust simply because I’ve read Mein Kampf? Though this example is a bit extreme, it is the same principle. It’s okay to censor language while reading out loud. My mom has read several books to me and my sisters, and if she ever encounters a bad word, she skips it or says a less foul word in its place. I’ve taken her example to heart and try not to use vulgar language. Instead, I try to uplift others with my words. I try to think about what I say and make sure it’s not offensive to anyone. Often, I end up saying nothing at all. Hey, that’s okay! I’d rather walk through silent hallways during passing periods than hear people shout profanity at each other.

If you feel the need to insult someone, cussing at them is not very creative, or even that insulting. I know I don’t like being called a female dog donkey butt, but I would rather that than being told my “heart is full of unwashed socks” or that I am a “dog-breath, rotted corpse” of a human. The former is from “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch,” a song full of creative insults. The latter is from The Shadow Throne by Jennifer A. Nielsen. The added benefit of using a more creative insult is that you might get a few laughs. It’s hard to stay mad at someone if you’re too busy laughing together!

The world is becoming more and more divided. Political parties are more polarized than ever. Accusations of bias and prejudice are commonplace and lead to serious backlash against the accused. Do we really need people yelling insults, bad words, and garbage at each other, adding to the hatred in the world today?

Another problem is the terrible grammar and limited vocabulary people think is acceptable. People, for whatever reason, think it’s rude when someone interrupts a conversation to correct someone’s terrible grammar. (Could there be a reason my only friends are English nerds?) If people aren’t allowed to correct grammar in conversations, anyone who wants to speak should be responsible for having a good understanding of grammar rules. Some people (like me) get very annoyed when people make it obvious how little they paid attention in English class. If I can’t correct people’s grammar, people should take the initiative to speak correctly.

One of my friends is an amazing student, has nearly perfect grammar, and shows her intelligence every time she speaks. Or at least, she used to. Then she picked up the habit of saying ‘y’all.’ Now, I’m a good Texan, and I understand how limited the English language is without having a plural ‘you.’ There is definitely a time and a place for saying ‘y’all.’ However, once my friend picked up this habit, she did not limit her usage of this word to times that she either wanted to make it clear she was talking to more than one person or was trying to make a point about her identity as a Texan. No, now she says it all the time, including when it does not even make sense to be used. The same principle applies to profanity. If people start cussing, they don’t stop at words that are passable in a PG rating; instead, they move on to worse words and are not too keen on breaking the habit they developed. 

I don’t have a phone, and, from seeing how people text, I think I’m grateful. I wouldn’t be able to tolerate the poor language people use. Just because text messages are supposed to be brief doesn’t mean they have to sound like something a two-year-old would say. Also, I wouldn’t be able to understand a thing people would say to me. LOL? BTW? TBH? ZYX? XRW? Despite what people seem to think, it is possible to be concise without typing random strings of letters and assuming people will understand.

With all the problems at school and in the world, individuals should try to use good language to facilitate communication and help everyone understand one another. Instead, people find profanity acceptable, a high vocabulary unnecessary, and have a mental capacity low enough they are only able to understand acronyms. People need to make efforts to improve their language, vocabulary, and grammar.