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Forgetting How to English

“Are you ready to Spanish?”

“I have to math tonight.”

“I don’t want to English right now.”

Whether you have heard these words or have actually said them aloud, it cannot be denied that a new language trend is sweeping through the school. Instead of using verbs to express what they have to do, students are now cutting corners and turning nouns into verbs.

At first glance, it seems harmless and even endearingly quirky and has gained momentum much as the term “bae” has spread. But this new language shortcut is as egregious as shortening words in a text message or replacing three-word phrases with three-letter acronyms. Now, instead of shortening words and phrases, we are shortening entire sentences by cutting out a part of speech altogether.

Every sentence must have a subject and a verb. Verbs add clarity to sentences by expressing the action or state of the subject. This is a fundamental rule of language that has been drilled into our minds since lower school. Cutting out the verb removes the clarity from the meaning of the sentence.

Take, for example, the phrase “Are you ready to Spanish?” This could mean several things, such as “Are you ready to go to Spanish?” or “Are you ready to work on Spanish homework?” or “Are you ready to speak Spanish?” There are many verbs that could be put between the words “to” and “Spanish,” each changing the meaning of the sentence.

Of course, it is assumed that in context, these sentences make sense, and many times they do. But what will happen in younger generations, when children grow up imitating this sentence structure?

The worst part of this new language trend is that everyone who follows it is fully aware that every sentence needs a verb but removes the verb anyway.  We are intentionally disregarding the rules of English that have been in place since the language was formalized, and the effect makes us sound childish and lazy. Do we truly have so little time and care so little about the words we are saying that we feel compelled to stoop to such a low quality of communication?

Discourse through the spoken and written word is the main way in which we communicate ideas, and it is something that should be treated with care and respect. This is not to say  that language cannot evolve over time, because it has and will continue to do so, but since we hold the power of the future of the English language in our hands, it would serve us well to ensure that our changes are positive, and that we are not disregarding all conventions merely because we “literally can’t even.”

Written by Sarah Fornshell’15


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