I’ve never been a grammar nazi or anything. I’ve always been okay with what is said as long as it’s clear what the person meant.
There, was a time, however, that I was driving, and after exiting the highway, I had to slow down, and I thought of the word, “decelerate.” This led to the below comedy routine where I play all the parts. Just open it in a new tab and it should play in your browser.
That’s not what this editorial is about, but it’s close enough and it’s pretty funny, so I wanted to share it.
I’ve done my time in the United States. More than I deserved, actually, so I’m very familiar with American attitude. They always complain about having to press 1 for English and “those dirty foreigners” not knowing English. Well, let’s put aside the fact that to call American English English is a stretch, at best, and assume, for the sake of argument, that it is English. That said, Americans still seem to have disproportionate difficulties with English than nationalities who learn it as a second language.
My last boyfriend, Zhen, never wanted to speak with me on the phone because, as he put it, “My English is bad.” I rang him up several times, anyway, because I enjoyed speaking with him, and I could understand what he was saying, the majority of the time, without having to have him clarify. And he’s never lived in an English speaking country.
Americans, on the other hand, are quite different. More often than not, they’ve never lived outside their own country, yet still have difficulties speaking to me in a way that I can understand it. On top of that, I constantly find myself having to simplify my statements just so they will understand me. Maybe it’s all the text messaging.
I think the reason for this is really quite simple. Non-native English speakers actually care enough to learn English because they want to communicate with English speakers. They’re often self-conscious about how bad their English is, and are constantly apologising for it, and working to improve it. Conversely, native English speakers (or, at least, Americans) don’t really care. They get raised on poor grammar, taught that learning is bad, and just speak the way they always have. Poorly.
So, until Americans will actually put the effort into learning to correctly use the English language, and the practice into implementing it, non-native English speakers will always be better at speaking English.
Of course, this whole issue could be solved tomorrow if we decided to kill every language but one, and have us all use the same language. It can’t be English. No. That would be too convenient for Americans. To make it fair, it would have to be something obscure. A language that has been dead for a while. A language only a handful of geeks (must be small geeks to fit in a hand) with the time to acquire useless trivia know. I think we all know what language I’m talking about. It starts with an L.
Spoiler: And it’s LOLcat.