Friday, June 09, 2006

The Murder of the English Language

The Murder of the English Language

What has happened to the English language? In scarcely a generation, it has been murdered, butchered and nearly forgotten in radio, television and the printed media. 

Our once beautiful language has been reduced to a small handful of monosyllabic grunts, and continues on its dizzying nosedive into oblivion. 

English language Hamlet

Back in 1611, at the time that great literary work was printed, the Authorized King James translation of the Bible into English, our language was complex, powerful, meaningful, expressive, and incredibly beautiful. Today, if a Bible translation is rated at higher than a Grade 5 level, it's considered too complex and difficult for the average reader, and many translations are even simpler than that. 

In the time of King James and Shakespeare, you could tell by the words that were used, for example, if the speaker was speaking to a group or an individual, depending on whether the word, "thou" was used, or the words, "thee" or "ye." (singular and plural) The same rules applied with many other words, making the language clearer than it is today. 

In the 19th century, some of the greatest classics of all time were written by people such as Charles Dickens, James Fenimore Cooper, the Bronte sisters, Robert Louis Stevenson, Louisa May Alcott, and many others. 

In the 20th century, works of such magnitude as those produced in the previous century became far fewer, to the point where it would be both extremely unusual and likely very poor business to produce such a work today. It just wouldn't sell! 

At one time, anyone who could read would find it pure joy to immerse themselves in a book written by a great author, even going back to the time of Homer and Plutarch. The books were vividly and brilliantly written with such descriptive and excellent language as to put the reader completely into the setting! 

Today, most of the words that would create such a setting are too long, too difficult, and too much bother to read. People would rather watch a TV show with people speaking to one another with at most a Grade 3 level of English, and more often than not, with language filled with idioms and colloquialisms that would make a person from a foreign country, who has actually learned English properly, shake his or her head in wonder, having absolutely no idea what the people are saying at all.

Will it end? It doesn't seem so. The "new" approach to teaching language in the Western World is the "whole language" approach, which teaches children simply to sight read a small handful of "key" words, and to guess the rest by their context. The idea is that children learn to talk by being immersed in language in their home, so they should be able to learn to read by being immersed in words at school.

It seems to me that the people who came up with such an idea have read far too many Edgar Rice Burroughs' Tarzan of the Apes books! Thankfully, there are still some good teachers who are still trying to squeeze in spelling, grammar, and excellence in reading, but they are swimming against an ever increasing current of opposition. 

Parents MUST spend time with their children encouraging them, helping them and challenging them to read ever more difficult language if there is to be any hope left at all for our once-great language. Otherwise, it will continue to be cut up, cast off, and buried in the refuse it is rapidly becoming. 

That's my rant for today. 

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Hurry! Hurry! Get in at the Top!

Hurry!  Hurry!  Get in at the Top!

How many times have you received an email with a subject line like that? I hope your first reaction is to delete it! 

 As a rule of thumb, if you have to get in at the top, it's because it's probably not going to go anywhere. It has an awful or horribly overpriced product, a hopeless commission structure (usually one that pays out FAR too much to survive), and is designed only to make its owners a whack of cash in a big hurry.

 "Hurry! Hurry!" That's the cry of the huckster trying to grab your cash BEFORE you do your due diligence. 

 "Hurry! Hurry!" Did you notice the date at the top of the page? You only have 23 hours, 9 minutes and 34 seconds to "get in at the top!" 

 Guess what? If you come back a week from now, you'll only have 23 hours, 9 minutes and 34 seconds to "get in at the top!" These hype artists use a simple java script to create a sense of urgency in the hope that you'll shell out your money before you take the time to check them out. 

 Good companies will still be good a year from now. There are billions of people in the world; that's a HUGE market! If the product is good, competitively priced, and tied to a reasonable, workable compensation plan, it will stay good for a long, long time. 

 Be reasonable and use reason when choosing a business. Do not let your emotions rule! The BEST rule to begin with in making any choice is to sleep on it. 

 Beware of those who say you have to "strike while the iron's hot." YOU may be the one who is about to be struck... with another dent in your bank account and another unworkable, worthless, soon-to-disappear "business" opportunity. 

The Da Vinci Code: Pulp Fiction

The Da Vinci Code:  Pulp Fiction

Wow! What a furor The Da Vinci Code is making! You'd think it was a history book that had been made into a documentary the way so many people are carrying on about it! 

 It's a STORY people! It's a work of pure fiction from a man with a very active imagination who's getting richer every day, thanks to its huge popularity. As a student of history with a passion for digging, myself, I find it absolutely incredible that people are even suggesting that it is an 'historical' novel based on 'documented' facts. 

 The fact is, there is precious little factual information in the book at all, and some of the most "astonishing revelations" are either taken from the work of convicted con artists or allegedly stolen from another work of fiction from the 1980s. 

 Note that the author, Brown, himself says on page 8: "In this work of fiction, the characters, places and events are either the product of the author’s imagination or they are used entirely fictitiously." 

 It is positively astonishing that the news media is wasting so much air time raving about all the 'amazing revelations' in the book, and how it will 'completely change' the way many people think. Have people lost their ability to think for themselves? It's no wonder con artists and their ilk do so well these days - more and more people seem to be ready to believe anything! 

 Question everything! Dig and do due diligence! The real truth will stand up to intense scrutiny, but fiction soon reveals itself for what it really is... simply fiction. What you believe is ultimately your choice, but wouldn't you rather it was the truth? 

 For more reading: The Da Vinci Code: Fiction masquerading as fact