Tuesday, August 31, 2010

A telltale sign

If you are raised in South Carolina and love football, you are either a tiger fan or a cocks fan. You were either raised to pull for Clemson University or the University of South Carolina. Those are our teams... Me? I'm a Clemson Tiger fan... bleed orange. Ok, so I don't go too overboard like many fans. But when Dad wanted to take us on a special "date" with one of his 4 daughters, we'd go to a Clemson football game (looking back in retrospect he really was "date" smart, we did love it though and jumped with enthusiasm at the mention of the game!), I married a Clemson graduate this past April, and many of my family/ friends have gone or are currently enrolled at Clemson. One of my cousins currently enrolled sent me an article from their campus newspaper, The Tiger, called "A telltale sign". As I glanced at it I noticed it seemed a little wordy and long so was just going to delete it from my inbox, but for whatever reason I was compelled to read it anyway.

After reading it, I had to pause. This article was so true. And the very reason I didn't want to read this "long and wordy" article was a little slap in my own face. You see, this article literally talked about words and how our society has forgotten how to speak or even how to verbally express ourselves. The author, Zak James, quoted N.T. Wright saying “A serious breakdown of language is a telltale sign of a serious breakdown of human culture.” James goes on to write,

" No wonder we are quick to give credence and respect to the words of
individuals who speak as though they are from a time in the past... We disregard
language that carries with it a level of meaning and complexity for a new kind
of vernacular that is painfully shallow and deeply defensive, overtly gratuitous
and laughably bombastic. Should we really feel so entitled as to blame our
foreign neighbors for believing us to be fools by virtue of our speech? I think
not... The culture at large rests upon the language of its people; when the
language erodes, culture soon follows. It is a perpetual cycle of reciprocal
determinism that, if not soon grasped, will undermine everything we have
achieved... (It is) a society in which bad language is no longer ceaselessly
implemented as a substitute for the inability to articulate one’s emotions or as
a cop out for not putting forth the effort to speak as individuals."

Why do only a handful of readers out there read Jane Austen? Our society can't understand her books. They are too long, wordy. Its "hard" reading, we have to concentrate too "hard". Why is EVERYONE out there reading Twilight (material written for young adults)? Its on a 4th grade reading level. Our society likes to read on a 4th grade reading level because we can understand the material. And I'm as guilty as the next. Makes me think... how am I contributing to the linguistic decline of our society? Can I do anything to change the snowball effect? Is it too late? I know this is a little heavy, but definitely something to think about... Check out the article. What ya'll think? Is this article true/false?

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