In my recent article about habits, I used the phrase “happy as a clam”, and found myself wanting to look up the origin of that phrase. I suppose it’s a natural result of something else I’ve been doing lately, which is looking up the meanings of words, trying to use more interesting words, and learning to improve my grammar.
I’ve mentioned in the past how I feel that grammar and communication are important. While I do maintain a fairly informal style in my writing, that doesn’t meant that I don’t care about how I communicate or that I’m willing to get as lazy about it as many people have become these days. I still want to be a good writer and express my ideas, both written and verbal, in the correct way.
What I think is really interesting is that it took me no time at all to turn this into a habit and for my bad grammar radar to improve. The more I learn, the more quickly I’m able to spot my own mistakes. I’m sure I still miss some, but I’m trying to improve and being rather successful. I’m getting a feel for when my use of punctuation might be off; I’m questioning the use of certain phrases and looking for areas where I’m sounding redundant and boring by using the same words repeatedly.
I had a talk with someone recently about their own speech, and it was rather interesting. They suggested that some people are better at grammar than others, and that’s okay. I agree only to an extent. They said that it’s more important to some people than others. That’s true, but personally I think it should be more important than it currently is. We did both agree that it’s very important to be able to communicate clearly. If people don’t understand what you’re saying or you’re saying things incorrectly, it can cause serious communication issues.
For me, improving my grammar and word use is important. It’s important as a writer, and for general communication. As I speak more clearly in conversation, people have less chance of misunderstanding me. I’m glad that I decided to begin looking things up more and plugging those rules back into my head. My personal belief is that proper communication should be important to everyone, and lax grammar and speaking shouldn’t be as widely accepted and excused as it is.
Just because our current society no longer truly values intelligence doesn’t mean that we should give up on it. If we accept the lazy speaking and writing as “the way it is” or “a natural evolution” we’re going to end up in a world filled with idiots. I don’t mean to insult anyone, but really, we’re each responsible for ourselves, and we should be our best. If we let important skills lapse, what kind of future will we have?
Interestingly, with that thought in mind, I’ve been making myself do more math in my head and relying less on calculators. I’m not going to be that person who can’t figure up their bill without a device to do it for me. I’m even wondering what other skills I might be losing due to technology and slipping standards in society. For me, these things are important, and no matter what the rest of society may be doing, I’m going to do my best to stay sharp.