Thursday, April 28, 2016


Today's media
Ain't got no vocab


UNFORTUNATELY (FOR ME) I LISTEN TO SOME "talk" shows when the Spouse is in the house.

Otherwise I watch "classic" tv - "Just the facts, ma'm" - or read a library book.

The people allowed to express themselves on the talk shows suggest to me that either (or both)

    Schools don't teach English vocabulary

    Students don't absorb English vocabulary.

I AM watching English language stations. Or at least they are SUPPOSED to be English language stations.

Both talk shows and, to a lesser extant, "news" shows, are populated with people who

    Don't know the language & grammar

    Don't care about the language & grammar

    Read what someone else wrote for them without thinking (both the writer and the reader)

These people are, to the best of my knowledge, university graduates. If they have journalism or communications degrees, one would suspect that sometime during their (typically) 16 years of education they world have learned to communicate in Standard American English.

Instead we are treated to language I don't expect from an educated person with - to me at least - a reasonable command of the language.

The entertainment industry, especially the lyric writers and the people who vocalize those lyrics, seem to have zero concept of language.

"She's got good boobs and a great butt" I was told by one talk show regular.

That's OK for locker rooms and for guys gathered at the neighborhood bar - I suppose women make similar comments about men.

If someone was to report that "she has an ample posterior" or "her mammary glands are prodigious," unless the tv generation had been either poking around a thesaurus or Grey's Anatomy - the book, not the tv show - they would fail to understand that the person offering the opinions was both stating what was crudely said before (boobs and butts) and had a halfway decent vocabulary.

I don't expect tv personalities or the folks who write - or warble - lyrics to have a Wm. F. Buckley, Herbert H. Humphrey, or Abba Eban's command of the language, but it would be nice if they could help us broaden OUR vocabulary and, miracle of miracles, improve our grammar.

Instead, the media bible - the AP Stylebook (or Style Guide) - descends to the almost lowest denominator; suddenly, "over" means "more than" as well as "above;" "under" now means "less than" and "beneath."

Despite Winston (cigarettes) best effort, it was unable to convince Americans that "Winston tastes good AS a cigarette should." Even then grammar was losing to lazy speech.

Question: If someone sends a text message "Meet < the bridge" will the person be able to understand "<" means "underneath" the bridge? (I really don't know; my phone is voice only; I am a primitive curmudgeon.)

Yes, I will concede that English is a "living language," but I think it is being murdered by people who never learned the language and have no right to wield a weapon to destroy it.

Two of my children have degrees in English - vs. "English degrees" that, I presume, would be from school in Blighty. I am able to communicate easily with them.

My wife, who has English as her fourth language, has a better command of the language - and the grammar - than the talking heads and the purveyors of the lyrics of songs on the charts.

No comments: