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Die Klasse 8 EU2 sprayt die Schriftzüge. Leitung: Gerber/ Churcher

Watch Your Language!

It is almost impossible to imagine a life without language. The easiest tasks would become insurmountable hurdles. Language is precious, and yet, we are experiencing a decline in virtually every aspect of the English language, be it grammar or even language awareness.

This current trend is an inevitable side-effect of globalisation, enticing us to forget our roots and give up our uniqueness for the sake of global unity. Of course, one language would suffice for all 6 billion inhabitants of this planet. However I find it wrong to try and bring together a large group of people by destroying what brought and kept groups of people together in the first place: their own language, their own unique culture. Although it may seem hard to believe, I am not a person who blindly holds on to tradition. The effects of language per se (e.g. communication) hardly change. However, language must be seen as a living entity, it changes constantly with the change in people using it. In this sense, language cannot be seen as a stiff, unmoveable object. This argument is however often used to justify our failure to nurture language over the last few decades. I refuse to accept the process by which poor language ability, especially in young adults, is played down and called a “natural change”. It is, in my opinion, not right that incorrect usage of language is often condoned as “colloquial” or “non-literary”. It is then only a matter of time before inaccuracies are incorporated into standard speech and writing. This degeneration amounts to a lack of care and poor awareness. Discussions held a few years ago in England about whether the conditional perfect construction “would have” + past participle should be changed to “would of” + past participle (to reflect common usage) shows the ludicrousness of the trend.


We cannot expect a change within the population without guidance. In our society standards are set mainly from above. In a worst case scenario, we must be forced to take care and we must be forced to learn to be aware. It would , of course, be much more effective if we learned to value and enjoy our language and then respect and care would come naturally. Unfortunately, non-governmental institutions do not suffice in this matter. Neither does a half-hearted law have much effect, as we now see in Germany. After numerous attempts to reform German orthography (which had the consequence of unlucky pupils having to learn five or more complete sets of orthographic rules), we see German schools teaching a different written German to the one published in most newspapers. It does not harm us to use correct spoken and written language in everyday life. Sometimes others might pick up the correct usage and drop the “colloquial”/incorrect one. Neither can it harm to flick through a grammar book, who knows what one might learn? Every little bit helps, if one really puts effort into it.


Now please don’t get angry when I tell you that I could have summarised this whole article in one Tagalog quotation by José Rizal (Filipino national hero during the Spanish colonial era):
Ang hindi magmahal sa sariling wika ay higit pa sa hayop at malansang isda.

(Roughly: “Those who know not how to love their own language are worse than an animal and a smelly fish.”)


I would feel terrible if anybody now felt discouraged from learning a foreign language. It opens up a whole new world, unparalleled to that of one’s native language. The topic of second language acquisition is a vast domain. I will however say, learning a foreign language usually has a positive effect on the way one perceives one’s native language after, or even during, the learning process. Let José Rizal be the finest example: he was able to converse in 22 languages!


Language has so much to offer, without even entering the world of linguistics (language science). I wish for more awareness in the way we treat our native languages. Do we foster them sufficiently? Next time, think consciously about distinguishing between “You and I,” and “You and me”. Be aware! Of course, loving our language requires a lot of dedication. It is a lifelong task.


by Jake Walsh
SESB Leistungskurs Englisch

Die Klasse 8 EU2 sprayt die Schriftzüge. Leitung: Gerber/ Churcher

Watch Your Language!

It is almost impossible to imagine a life without language. The easiest tasks would become insurmountable hurdles. Language is precious, and yet, we are experiencing a decline in virtually every aspect of the English language, be it grammar or even language awareness. This current trend is an inevitable side-effect of globalisation, enticing us to forget our roots and give up our uniqueness for the sake of global unity. Of course, one language would suffice for all 6 billion inhabitants of this planet. However I find it wrong to try and bring together a large group of people by destroying what brought and kept groups of people together in the first place: their own language, their own unique culture. Although it may seem hard to believe, I am not a person who blindly holds on to tradition. The effects of language per se (e.g. communication) hardly change. However, language must be seen as a living entity, it changes constantly with the change in people using it. In this sense, language cannot be seen as a stiff, unmoveable object. This argument is however often used to justify our failure to nurture language over the last few decades. I refuse to accept the process by which poor language ability, especially in young adults, is played down and called a “natural change”. It is, in my opinion, not right that incorrect usage of language is often condoned as “colloquial” or “non-literary”. It is then only a matter of time before inaccuracies are incorporated into standard speech and writing. This degeneration amounts to a lack of care and poor awareness. Discussions held a few years ago in England about whether the conditional perfect construction “would have” + past participle should be changed to “would of” + past participle (to reflect common usage) shows the ludicrousness of the trend. We cannot expect a change within the population without guidance. In our society standards are set mainly from above. In a worst case scenario, we must be forced to take care and we must be forced to learn to be aware. It would , of course, be much more effective if we learned to value and enjoy our language and then respect and care would come naturally. Unfortunately, non-governmental institutions do not suffice in this matter. Neither does a half-hearted law have much effect, as we now see in Germany. After numerous attempts to reform German orthography (which had the consequence of unlucky pupils having to learn five or more complete sets of orthographic rules), we see German schools teaching a different written German to the one published in most newspapers. It does not harm us to use correct spoken and written language in everyday life. Sometimes others might pick up the correct usage and drop the “colloquial”/incorrect one. Neither can it harm to flick through a grammar book, who knows what one might learn? Every little bit helps, if one really puts effort into it. Now please don’t get angry when I tell you that I could have summarised this whole article in one Tagalog quotation by José Rizal (Filipino national hero during the Spanish colonial era): Ang hindi magmahal sa sariling wika ay higit pa sa hayop at malansang isda. (Roughly: “Those who know not how to love their own language are worse than an animal and a smelly fish.”) I would feel terrible if anybody now felt discouraged from learning a foreign language. It opens up a whole new world, unparalleled to that of one’s native language. The topic of second language acquisition is a vast domain. I will however say, learning a foreign language usually has a positive effect on the way one perceives one’s native language after, or even during, the learning process. Let José Rizal be the finest example: he was able to converse in 22 languages! Language has so much to offer, without even entering the world of linguistics (language science). I wish for more awareness in the way we treat our native languages. Do we foster them sufficiently? Next time, think consciously about distinguishing between “You and I,” and “You and me”. Be aware! Of course, loving our language requires a lot of dedication. It is a lifelong task. by Jake Walsh SESB Leistungskurs Englisch