Coming from a small town in the South causes you to hear some atrocious exemplifications of the English language. Ebonics, regional idioms/dialects and the Redneck slang not normally deducible to the untrained ear cause we grammar nazis to have momentary spasms while overhearing or during conversations with some people. Yes, I just referred to myself as a grammar Nazi. If you’re not aware of the term ‘grammar Nazi’ (plural grammar Nazis) (slang, idiomatic) refers to a person who habitually corrects or criticizes the language usage of others. I may not correct you to your face but believe me when I tell you that I am screaming that correction on the inside.
I for one did not grow up in a family that had a strong grasp of the correct uses of English grammar but in high school I encountered an English teacher who loved to diagram sentences. She not only became one of my favorite teachers but her class allowed me to realize that I had a knack for English/Language Arts. I journeyed on to college, majored in Language Arts, minored in creative writing and wanted to be the next Great-American writer. Well the latter has yet to come to fruition but I have found great joy by following that same favorite English teacher’s footsteps by teaching high school English.
The problem lies in that barren landscape of ‘care less’. Most of my family and friends could care less about using correct grammar and have no idea they they’re even doing anything wrong. In our society, most people don’t grow up with a strong grasp of the current uses of the English language. I have friends that misuse words and misspell words a lot of the time. Do we blame the education system? Well not all teachers are created the same and not all schools put as much emphasis on grammar as there should be.
Whether it’s pure unadulterated laziness, lack of attention for details, English being your second language or if you think that using proper grammar is trite; it won’t change the fact that if you use there/their/they’re incorrectly. My question is if someone’s intelligence should be based on something that doesn’t hold importance in all demographics. In math, reading, and technology based problem-solving, United States citizens scored well below the international average on a global test. Adults in Japan, Canada, Australia, Finland and other countries that participated in the test scored significantly higher than the United States in all areas of testing. The test included basic reading and math skills but also included the participants were asked to calculate mileage, money due to a salesman, the sorting of emails and comparing food expiration dates on a grocery store tag.
Americans not only scored poorly in this International Assessment of Adult Competencies test, but we were near the bottom in every category. Now is this assessment a true representation of the intelligence of the average American? Well that depends. If you take bookkeeper with a 120 IQ from India and drop him onto a farm in Nebraska, he would not be able to successfully grow this years crop of wheat. On the flip side of that same token, you can’t take a plumber from Salem, Oregon and expect him to be able to successfully perform a heart transplant on a Brazilian woman with severe coronary artery disease riddled with scarred heart tissue from multiple heart attacks.
Will there be someone who can do something better than us? Sure. The truth is is that the world goes around by utilizing all skill sets. We need skilled laborers just as much as we need a doctor. So to quote the 1977 classic film Smokey and the Bandit (one of my favorite movies ever), where the character Bandit (played by Burt Reynolds) says, “When you tell somebody somethin’, it depends on what part of the country you’re standin’ in… as to just how dumb you are.” It would appear that the Bandit’s quote need not stop at our border but should cover us on a global scale.