Monday, March 9, 2009

The beauty of language

I was in the midst of re-organizing my boxes in which I store paper, decorations, etc. for my stamping projects (cards, books, envelopes) and I came across a bundle of greeting cards that I had kept over the years.  Most were from my children with a few from good friends and it gave me pause to think.

On the island we do have greeting cards.  However, my husband refuses to acknowledge they are here and just where they can be purchased, as it would mean he would have no excuse on my birthday, our anniversary, Christmas or Valentine’s Day for not getting me a card.  I love cards!  Always have.  I love making them and have made many over the years to give to friends and family or making a special card at the request of a friend.  

I love the challenge of thinking up an idea for a card, making up verses, finding special things to decorate them with and then making a special envelope to enclose them in.  Most of all, I love doing verses.  To me the art of speaking eloquently is being lost.  People have reduced themselves to brief descriptive words, and mostly 4-letter ones at that!  I am not a prude but I have never seen the reason for daily use of  4-letter words rather than taking time to express how you feel with a more descriptive and MEANINGFUL term.  I know that people get into the habit of using certain words and it becomes second nature to them.  However, when no one around them expresses their discomfort with what is being said or the fact that the language offends them, then these same people feel that using whatever foul word comes out of their mouth is accepted.  

I am always distressed to hear the children on the streets using language my parents avoided using around us as children.  Then I hear their mothers!  They use the same language and always seem to be shouting at their charges.  I raised three children and it was a difficult task keeping on them about manners, respect, morals, hygiene, but a completely necessary one. Thankfully I have no regrets about my children.  They were all special in their own way and each has made me proud as they reached adulthood.  My husband and I never swore in front of the children.  As a matter of fact, I very seldom if ever use profanity as I feel there are better ways of conveying an idea rather than using something that means nothing or has no connection to the idea being presented!  We never let the children see us in a light unbecoming us as parents (i.e., drinking or listening to off-color jokes) and did our best to teach them respect for others.

My husband and I have been watching a T.V. series (on DVD) which has been acclaimed as one of the best series of the year.  The concept was interesting - about people in the ghetto and the overpowering presence of drugs.  However, I cannot relate to this series having been raised in a middle-class environment, with high moral values, respect for others and the system and using the language I was taught in school to convey a thought in a correct and meaningful manner.  We actually had to put on subtitles during the series just to figure out what was being said.  Even then we had no idea during the majority of the hour-long show as to the meaning of the sentences.  One could guess because of the body language and the subsequent outcome, but other than that, they were speaking a foreign language.  Some people say, this is “their” language which is indicative to that class of people.  I am sorry, but that language is not going to get them anywhere and keep them just where they are - at the bottom of the ladder.  When slang takes over and the rules of grammar are thrown out the window, then we have to guess just what is being said and the person using poor grammar will never make the impression necessary to be better than what they are.

My point, I guess, is that I miss the beauty of the language that was used in say the 1800’s!  Not to say that it is something I could tackle today as many of the words used then, being very formal, might convey a feeling to others that they are inferior to me.  So, this is why I love to make up verses and express my thoughts on paper in a card.  

In going over the wonderful cards I have received over the years, I am reminded of the love and respect my children have for me, the comfort my friends find in my friendship and the simple joy of remembering that I count for something with others.  This all comes about with words - and slang and swear words just don’t give one that feeling!

P.S.  With this thought, I must correct the title of my last last blog: Wonder What Up!  To: Wonder What’s Up?  Sorry about that!


  1. You might like watching Deadwood rather than The Wire, then. Both have the cussing, however Deadwood's set in the 19th century and the writing is amazing.

    That said, I loved both shows almost equally.

  2. My sentiments exactly! And that is why my favorite music genre is Broadway musicals -- the lyrics tell the story; they rhyme (perhaps tortuously). But the sheer cleverness just thrills me. B'way is virtually always a stop when we visit our hometown outside of NYC. The touring B'way shows are also a must do item....JC-Superstar is on the 26th of March...can't wait.
    Regards to Mike and to Linda & Mike.
    [Pilot] Mike

  3. To Jill:
    Well, funny you should say that. We liked Deadwood a lot; the story line was great and the acting was terrific. However, we could not believe that people spoke that way then! The language was just too much.
    We struggled through the Wire the first season, became numb to the swearing and went through to the 4th season. The story and acting is good and compelling. I still cannot understand the slang the people in the ghetto use and find no use for it in society.

  4. Sharon, I sure do agree with your feelings on the language. What we hear now in the movies, and, worse, in public, is a perversion of English. I recently saw a movie which was supposed to take place in the fifties. Now, I grew up in a rough side of Chicago. I can not say I had never ever seen or
    heard the F-word, but it was so uncommon in speaking when I was in High School that I do not believe I heard it even once a year. I sincerely hope the fascination with the word dies off.
    Ken and Melinda

  5. Yes, the grammar of the younger generation is terrible. I think history has shown us that no language survives intact, but they all evolve over time. I like our old way of teaching English and the way we used to use it. Now I am not sure what is being said by young people and whether I should be flattered or insulted by what they say. They also use what I consider X-rated language in their everyday conversation, in books, movies, TV, newspapers and text messages -- whatever they are. I guess I am getting old and still think I can find words that are not quite as graphic or insulting and words that I think are still in the dictionary to get my point across.
    Cousin Mike