Your Greatest Grammar Challenge & how it sabotages your success

I don’t know if you’re anything like me, but I thought I was pretty good at communication. I mean, I’m a public speaker after all. Then it happened…

There I was watching Little People Big World (hey, don’t judge) and Amy Roloff kept talking about how FUSStrated she was. FUSStrated at her ex-husband Matt. FUSStrated at her kids. FUSStrated at her business.

All I kept hearing in my head was my voice screaming “There is an “R” in frustrated, Amy!! Use it! You’re not FUSStrated  or even FLUStrated…you’re FRUSTRATED!!!” Heck, now I was frustrated!! 🙂

Your Pet Peeves

Do you have pet peeves when it comes to grammar and language? Are there certain words or phrases that just rub you the wrong way when people either misuse them or pronounce them incorrectly?

  • Maybe for you it’s “Let me aks you a question”
  • Maybe it’s the misuse of apostrophe’s (like the sign that says “No Bicycle’s”)
  • Or misplaced modifiers… “You are welcome to visit the cemetery where famous American war heroes are buried daily, except on Thursdays.” Why can’t war heroes be buried on Thursdays?
  • Or maybe fake words like “Irregardless” or “Funnest” or “Alright” or “Alot” (Okay, that last one is a word that I use alot – thank goodness for autocorrect.)

Your greatest grammar challenge is your focus on and overvaluing of “correct” grammar.

When you feel like I do, your brain is overemphasizing the importance of the RULES of grammar and you are missing the intention of language. For instance…

Yuor azmniag barin can firgue out waht I am tnyrig to say wtih tihs pgararpah eevn if I don’t slepl the wdros crlroetcy.
You can totlaly uaedrntnsd waht I’m tnriyg to cummoaicnte as lnog as the fisrt and lsat ltteer of my wrdos are in the ccerrot poiisotn. The rset can be a taotl mses. Smoe may eevn say taht firigung out tihs jbuemld mses is fun!

Did you get what I was saying there?

(If not, here it is: Your amazing brain can figure out what I am trying to say with this paragraph even if I don’t spell the words correctly. You can totally understand what I’m trying to communicate as long as the first and last letter of my words are in the correct position. The rest can be a total mess. Some may even say that figuring out this jumbled mess is fun!)

People are different. Our ‘tribes’ are different. We have different customs and idioms. It’s what makes the human species so unique and diverse.

Since I’m grew up in Pittsburgh, here are a few sentences for you.  “Bince me and ma friends are apost tu go dahn on da sahside tonight, yinz wanna go withs me? Ize so tard of sittin at home. How ’bout we meechins dahn air?”

(Translation: Being as me and my friends are supposed to go down on the south side tonight, do you want to go with me? I was so tired of sitting at home. How about we meet you (yinz) down there?)

You can still understand what I’m talking about (even if I end the sentence in a preposition). Right?

Language

So why did human beings develop language and grammar anyway? Quite simply to share ideas, thoughts, feelings… to trade with one another.

So what is communication? It’s about sharing and exchanging ideas and information. It’s about conveying and transmitting a message from one human being to another.

Speaking came before writing. Then, historically, human beings would orate or speak like they wrote. Now with texting and all of the shortcuts to language, we write like we speak. It’s part of our evolution as a species.

Yes, there are rules. Yes, there are ways to make your communication look “professional” and “polished”. That’s not what we’re talking about here. I want to point out that our overfocus on the rules of language may be getting in the way of actually utilizing it for its primary intent.

Language isn’t about the rules, it’s about the message.

When, at least in my mind anyway, did it become about grammar and rules? Why did I start judging and then making assumptions based on those judgments? I assume that people who don’t write or speak properly are stupid. If you can’t spell “receive” or you can barely pronounce the “t’s” when you say impor-en (for important), you obviously have limited mental capacity.

[Side note: I realize you may be judging me for my faulty judgments but I’m willing to take that chance because one challenge I hear more than any other is “we need help with communication.”]

These judgments that I make regarding the intelligence of people do not support my efforts to make a difference, to connect, and to create value in the world. These judgments probably aren’t even accurate.

So when it comes to communication, what are you focusing on? Do you suffer from the same challenges? Do you focus more on how they speak (or write) than on what they are saying? Are you focusing on grammar, rules, and correctness? Are you focusing on the Chinese lady’s broken “engrish”?  Did you hear the Guatemalan “imbite” you to their church? Were you offended in some way when Ebonics was being taught in schools?

Language is about communication and communication is about connecting. A dangling participle or incorrect use of the subjunctive, doesn’t have to get in the way. Human beings develop new “languages” all the time. Want proof?

txtN didn’t exist a gnr8n ago & nw ppl sA
OMG & hashtag out lowd n thR spEch.
It’s a nu language!

What TO DO

Today, rather than getting “fusstrated” by the incorrect use of an apostrophe, faulty parallelism, or split infinitives, I encourage you to search for the meaning. After all, language is a tool. You choose how to use it.

Will you build a wall of grammatical correctness or will you build a bridge of understanding and friendship?

Get to the heart of the matter and make a connection with another living, breathing, priceless human soul.

 

I’d love to hear your pet peeves below. Why? So we can be more aware of the words that get in our way of connecting with others.

Thanks for sharing!!


 

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