Monday, September 21, 2009

Introductory Blog Post by Andrew Heck

My name is Andrew Heck and I have chosen to enroll in MacEwan's Professional Writing program for many profound and enlightening reasons--the main being the fact that I will need a decent-paying job at some point in my life. As far as grammar and composition are concerned, the extent of my knowledge can be called, "basic to moderately-instructed." Although this is a fair starting point, I hope to deepen my knowledge of the parts of speech and their functions, learn effective methods of composition, and indulge my abilities as a virtuoso writer (at least in my own thinking). These skills are imperative in the communications workplace, which can be safely assumed to be the likely destination of all .
Steven Pinker offered up some interesting points in his lecture, which was full of dry wit and examples of the modernity of our English language; something that I've come to expect from shaggy-haired, university-educated intellectuals. Although I can respect his point of view as someone who wishes to keep with the ways of the contemporary world, I cannot help believing that his beliefs regarding the state of languages is a bit corrupted. It is true that languages evolve in terms of the jargon, creation of dialects, and God-awful "txt spk," but this is no reason to simply accept the change as a variation of the correctness of the language. Ultimately, we must preserve the traditional uses of language, as it would be a terrible shame for our present knowledge contained in text to become obsolete with the changing of the seasons.
The place of the dictionary in our world has no less value than that of the encyclopedia, the thesaurus, or any other reference materials. The content may be edited over time; however, we must have a comprehensive guide to a majority of the useable words. Without this guide, our words might lose understood meaning, or fall out of touch with modern audiences, who would rather communicate through highly-impersonal, redundant text messages than by employing the use of the endless possibilities of our beautifully-eloquent language. Out of the necessity for proper communication and sheer spite, we must not decommission the use of the dictionary as we know it.
The way that we articulate our thoughts can be an excellent tool for insight into ourselves and other people. Word choice, not only the quality and complexity, but the connotation of the words that we use, and the emotion they convey, are incredibly important. Words on their own are dull. Without the human side, they have no power to influence minds or serve any other purpose. This terrible phenomenon is frequent in advertising, internet design, and product packaging. It is my firm belief that our increasing use of non-descriptive, "dead" language has contributed to a change in human perspective. We are slaughtering our higher language and committing communication fraud, as a result. Language is a "window into human nature," but not quite as Pinker asserts.
When Pinker describes verbs as the "chassis of the sentence," he is referring to the basic structure of the sentence. We talk a lot about objects and subjects, but not often enough about purposes; the actions and implications. The verb creates context. A sentence full of objects and subjects without actions sounds very much like a horribly-extensive description of a setting in a cliched novel that you might expect to find in the bargain bin at your local grocery store. If Pinker and I can agree to one of his philosophies, it is the function of the verb. The metaphorical support system of verbs holds a piece of writing together. The body of a vehicle attracts the eye, much as the content of the writing pleases the mind. Long live verbs.

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