Sunday, June 28, 2009

if you mean something, say something

Today's recommendation is a more abstract, abstruse one, but it'll suffice.

Today's recommendation is linguistic accountability.

This is an umbrella term I'm using to refer to a whole host of things. Not just proper spelling & grammar, which I'm all for, despite the fact that i embrace change in language & I appreciate language in all forms. I mean, I recommend that you defy the creeping trend of infantilism and entitlement that is apparent even in spoken English.

To wit, two of my biggest annoyances:

It is believed that it's perfectly common & acceptable to say, "I'm going to school to get such-and-such degree."

I disagree. Despite what my students think, you are not a customer when you enroll in an academic institution (unless it's one of those buy-a-degree, fly-by-night, for-profit schools that advertise on websites). You are WORKING on a degree. You are EARNING it. If you cannot understand the semantic distinction, then in my estimation, at least, you imply don't deserve the degree.

This is not just my grumpy, overworked grad student self showing.

I find it kind of off-putting that people my age and older refer to themselves as kids, as boys, as girls. In a society as schizophrenic as ours, in a society as hyper concerned with the sexualization of children and as terrified of pedophiles as ours, this seems a curious phenomenon. Yeah, 30 is the new 12 or something, but step up. You're not a kid. I realize that it's a bit stilted and words like "woman" and "Man" come with their own baggage, but if you're old enough to get married, to vote, to reproduce, to get drafted for a war you don't believe in, you are old enough to refer to yourself using the word that properly describes you, no matter how immature you are.

Again: today's recommendation is LINGUISTIC ACCOUNTABILITY.

If you practice this - if give yourself over to the simple act of speaking in a way that reflects not entitlement but responsibility & accountability, I believe that it will come across in your actions. Everyone is scared of responsibility, but I think that maybe words come first. By uttering it, one gets used to the idea. By getting used to the idea, you become accountable. Right?


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