A GPS plays a special role while traveling strange roads. It tells us where we are, where to turn to reach our destination, how far we have come, how far we have yet to go, what the speed limit is, and where the landmarks, restaurants, and gas stations are. It keeps us from getting lost! It also increases our overall understanding of areas unfamiliar to us. A GPS can greatly enhance the enjoyment of a trip.
It occurred to me that I, as a writer (and we writers, collectively), have a special role, since our craft is expressed through use of our language. It matters how we use our GPS…….. GPS? I see the questions in your eyes.
Grammar, Punctuation, and Spelling!
It’s a matter of words – how we string them together in a proper, coherent manner into phrases and sentences.
G,P, and S are our tools - the paint on our canvasses which color our written thoughts.
They are the instruments by which we give tone and texture, pitch and resonance to the songs of our printed voices.
They are the rich furnishings that embellish an empty house (page) and transform it into a home (page).
Without the order furnished by the use of good grammar, punctuation, and spelling, (and, here, I must add vocabulary) there is confusion and chaos. There is reader discomfort. Instead of the stream flowing smoothly, their canoes encounter obstacles which impede progress. Instead of the intended float-trip through a beautiful landscape of understanding, there is a laborious detour through a swamp of lost meaning.
Today our language, (both the written and the spoken) is under attack by laziness, carelessness, apathy, ignorance, and lack of meaningful use by the general public. It seems few people actually care anymore about The Queen’s English (meaning the standard, correct, conventional, most easily-understood-worldwide form of the language). It is dying a slow death – even in the “media” – even in schools. Our language is undergoing a deliberate “dumbing down”. It seems to me that bad grammar, punctuation, spelling, and vocabulary are somehow becoming more socially acceptable to many people than good grammar, punctuation, spelling, and vocabulary. To me, that is a very sad circumstance. The consequences are tangible, for example, when thousands of job applications are rejected for not having been written properly. It is essential to be able to express one’s thoughts and ideas clearly, concisely, and in an intelligent manner.
As writers, we find ourselves in a unique position. We have a responsibility, and an obligation to make proper use of our language, not only for our readers’ benefit, and our own benefit, but for the benefit of the English language itself, and Society itself.
I must now state that I am not a journalist, nor an English major. I’ve never had a creative writing course; the way I write is God-given. All my knowledge of reading and writing came from grades one through twelve in public school, way back when “reading, writing, and ‘rithmetic” were considered very important, and were taught classically. There was no “dumbing down” back then, only “smartening up”. That being said, this post may still contain some GPS errors, but it’s not for lack of trying, and it’s not for lack of caring about English. I’m no expert, but whatever my shortcomings, I’m still a writer. Writing is my passion, my delight, and, most importantly, my calling.
As writers, we find ourselves the appointed guardians, supporters, and defenders of The Language, and not only our language but God’s language; His words. HIS WORD. Writers and readers alike should gain proficiency in GPS and vocabulary, especially if they happen to be reading or writing about The Bible, God’s people, or King Jesus, The Word of God, Himself.