Monday, September 21, 2009

Introductory Blog Post, Jennifer Kerr

I’m a professional writing student, so PROW-100 is a required course for me. I’m glad to be taking it, because I hope it will help me to gain a good foundation in grammar and composition. These skills will be an asset for me in other classes I will take as I continue with my studies, as well as to improve my writing outside of school, and in my career. My current knowledge of composition and grammar is limited mainly to what I’ve learned in high school and by experimenting with writing on my own, as well as what I have learned in the short time that I’ve been attending Macewan, and by observing other writers’ work. In her comment on describing pictures using adjectives, Shawna said that paying attention to word choice bred a greater understanding of language itself. I agree with this, and would like to continue to explore and understand language. This class will hopefully allow me to do so.

In class we watched a video in which Steven Pinker talked about language and thought. In it, he brought up the issue of dictionaries becoming obsolete. He argued, with the example of the French Academy’s dictionary of official French, that many dictionaries become outdated before they are even completed. While I understand this to be true in many cases, I do not think that dictionaries will ever be ‘dead’. They are useful tools in reading and writing, used daily by many students and researchers. Enough of language remains constant throughout long periods of time that dictionaries are for the most part able to retain their usefulness.

I feel that ‘standard’ English is and always will be very important. Text speak, slang and jargon all have their places, but in many situations are simply not acceptable. Standard English is widely understood, while much of slang, jargon and text changes rapidly and is only understood by select groups. I personally find that text speak comes across as immature and lazy and prefer not to use it. However I recognize that it is a fast and convenient way for many to communicate. It should continue to be used in private communication, but should not become a commonplace in writing and media. Over time, slang may become part of everyday language, but we should proceed with caution in allowing it to do so.

Pinker says that “The verb is the chassis of the sentence”, and I think that he is right. The verb is what gives a sentence life. Without it, the sentence cannot exist. It is what moves a sentence forward and tells us what we need to know about the verb’s object or subject. While other parts of a sentence are just as, or in some cases, more important, the verb is always the basic framework or skeleton of the sentence.

Language is without a doubt a window onto human nature. From what people choose to say or write, as well as when, where and why they do, we can glean unlimited insight. With the right interpretation of language, almost every aspect of human nature can be looked at. Communication through language is the basis for a large portion of everyday human interaction, and is in many ways what shapes human nature in the first place.

1 comment:

  1. Reading this post reminds me of my old room mate! He always kept talking about this. I will forward this article to him. Pretty sure he will have a good read. Thanks for sharing!
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