During the many years in which I taught English, I worked hard to avoid making grammatical errors in order to set an example for the students and to avoid ridicule from my colleagues. I also paid strict attention to correct pronunciation, again to allow students to hear the difference between the correct and incorrect pronunciations. Of course, I have now relaxed much, but I still hear and read mistakes, especially those made by the media.
My teeth get on edge easily when I see and hear so many mistakes while reading newspapers and listening to radio and television. In earlier times, the publishers or owners of various stations would not have tolerated such mistakes. Now, I often wonder if anyone pays attention. Actually, I am pleased to note that our local paper contains few errors in grammar and spelling. I can remember that at one time I used this column as a proofreading exercise for my students as so many "in corrections" had been added to a reasonably correctly presented essay. Now, I even notice that someone takes the time to correct some of my carelessness, and I really appreciate that. In fact, I have placed a few glaring errors in the original just to see if the proofreader would do the job.
The radio and television cause me to talk to myself a lot these days because they broadcast so carelessly. Whereas, they should be setting good examples for the listeners, they often do just the opposite. The incorrect grammar and mispronunciations are abominable because young people who don't realize they are being taught poor usage often copy them. When our students aren't given the very best to read and to hear, they are not going to learn the very best of our language. We then wonder why the scores are so low on the national tests given to our students. All we have to do is to read and to listen to know the cause of such shortcomings.
Although I rarely correct anyone any more because I know how much I now need such corrections, I still reserve that right for a few friends who have become almost as careless as 1. When I hear another English major making errors in either writing or speaking, I have to challenge that person and hope said person would also challenge me when they see or hear my errors.
We can but hope all our teachers are continuing to correct their students whether or not they are teachers of English. If all teachers do as ours did, they will instill pride in the use of language and see that scores in many areas of those national tests improve. After all, knowledge of correct grammar is necessary if a student is to begin to understand math and science as well as all the other subjects.
Lynn Moncus is a Tucumcari resident and can be contacted through the Quay County Sun by calling 461-1952.