from the blog.

My Inner Grammar Nazi

I am SO bad at several things. I suck horribly at school. I love music yet I am painfully tone deaf. I am not good at any sport or any other physical activity. I fell in love with photography but then it just proved that I am no good at any form of art. Needless to say, singing and dancing are out of the question.

If there are a few things I am good at, one is annoying my friends with my sarcasm. I am also more technologically inclined than the average person but only because I am so addicted to tech news and gadgets. Yet I cannot afford most of the gadgets those blogs talk about.

Another thing I am inclined at is English. Though my spoken English is nowhere near announcer/emcee level, I can say I have a fair command of the English language in terms of reading, writing and speaking. Back in elementary school, I used to proof-read my college sister’s English papers. And this is something I never learned in school. Most English I know – pronunciation, spelling and grammar I picked up through media. Like any kid, I enjoyed cartoons. Thankfully, back then we didn’t have Tagalized cartoons. Also back in elementary school, my dad (a book lover) forced each of us (me and my siblings) to finish one book. Most of them Og Mandino titles. I never got to page ten. But my parents had a Reader’s Digest collection from decades of subscription. Some dating all the way back to the early 80’s. I learned more through Reader’s Digest’s Humor section. Yes, Humor. I didn’t read the articles. Looking back, even as a kid, I could tell what kind of adult I would grow up to be.

I can say this, and my heavy exposure to American TV and culture, was my edge in getting my first ever job. I worked in a BPO. I talked to foreigners everyday. But during training and even on the operations floor, I had no trouble with language. Even when I moved up and was taken off the phones, language has always been on my side. For that I am thankful.

Sadly, technology is slowly killing my command of English. I am relying more and more to Word’s F7 function or Googling for correct spellings. I didn’t have the need back then. And I don’t recall being corrected that often. Now I don’t feel confident writing a decent article without automated grammar correction. I correct myself on simple mistakes like their-there-they’re and you’re-your. The thought of missing something scares me. I blame my heavy exposure to the Internet. Its my fault.

English proficiency is such a big problem. Being exposed to a tsunami of grammatical mistakes on the Web, I feel blessed and also un-vindicated. I feel good that I can somewhat avoid grammatical scrutiny but do I (need to?) feel good only because a ton of other people are making mistakes?

Why write about this? Because…

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  1. Working as an online English teacher also kills your proficiency. I think it made me dumber than I used to be. It’s odd because we are keeping a standard too. ^^ I guess talking to them tainted my grasp of the language.

    Still, we need to watch out, us Pinoys, because we market ourselves as very good in English. Our schools need to make sure that the standards are met. I have cousins who I snap at because they ask me to review their work that is written in, for a lack of better term, Carabao English. I literally get headaches from reading those pieces of *rap.

    It’s sad because so many other countries envy the chances we have. We study English from age five. Whenever I tell this to my Korean students they are astonished and think that we are a country over run by awesome English speakers. But we are not.

    I think somewhere along the way technology makes us co-dependent towards spelling checkers. But we also have less patience to read and to learn.

    If we learn how to say something incorrectly it takes forever to get it out of our system. Believe me I know, I work against those things everyday.

    We need to harness the potential all Pinoys have. Let’s learn from Erap and Manny. They are famous for something other than their achievements, right?

  2. I am more inclined to numbers than writing and speaking English language. This is the reason why I blog. I have no confidence, until now, when to use have and has, and many sorts of English grammar. But I don’t give a damn to it, I am here to practice and improve my English skills.

  3. @ The Blogger:

    Nice blog! ^_^

    I agree that technology somehow hinders our improvement in grammar. We get exposed to so many errors and since we know that there are tons of other mistakes on the net, we got used to it. And then the next thing we’ll know is that we ourselves are confused. Also, we no longer strive to memorize rules since MS Word will always be reedy to correct our basic mistakes and Google is just around the corner when our technical dictionary fails to function properly.

    @ Pinaywriter:

    I also work as an online English teacher and I definitely understand your point. It makes me feel “stupid’ when my student doesn’t understand me because I have used a heavy word. It’s really a challenge to maintain your proficiency in the language when you’re dealing with students to whom you have to use basic sentences and easy words to have a conversation.