For folks old enough to remember, there was this popular “soonest recover” musician who sang,
“Grammar, grammar, grammar no be MONEY
Grammar, grammar, grammar no be PROGRESS
Grammar, grammar, grammar no be my LANGUAGE”.
He was trying to belittle the importance of quintessential and accurate use of grammar when communicating. I would not subscribe to that!
As geeks looking to improve all facets of our lives, it occurred to me that, with the use technology, mastery of our Official Language here in Nigeria (English) can be facilitated through the adequate application of technology.
This post also has its roots in the recent depressing news that about 80% of students that sat for the Secondary School Certificate Examinations failed Mathematics and ENGLISH! Saddening.
Speaking good and impeccable English is predicated on reading articles by writers and listening to and interacting with articulate and compelling orators. The opportunity to be a voracious reader is right there by reading materials emanating from the Masters of the Language.
We learn MORE by DOING. We need to practice speaking and writing . To continually expand on, and improve upon your vocabulary, practice is essential and ineluctable! Practice also makes perfect. Hearing somebody speak or worse still, write with egregious unpardonable grammatical errors, has me unconsciously rating that person intellectually low.
Now, how can technology help us mitigate this problem of ubiquitous ‘grammatical murders’ being committed even by the ‘mighty?’ ( A certain first lady also jumped into this fray – recently –lips sealed)
I make use of a number of software to ensure my grammar does not send people into a paroxysm of derisive convulsive laughter.
My favourite word processor (MicroSoft Word), like most modern word processors – has a grammar checker. When a construction is suspect, it alerts me of this, then I can re-construct. It also has a Spelling Checker. When a word is spelt incorrectly, it indicates this, and suggests the correct one.
There is also an inbuilt Thesaurus. Communicating effectively entails using the APPOSITE words, at the right time. The English language is so rich that a wrong word in the right place can totally change the way the message is perceived by the reader or listener.
Other technology tools I use on my Netbook Computer (NC) are standalone applications like TinySpell and The Sage’s English Dictionary and Thesaurus . I highly recommend ‘TheSage’ . Its sagacity is irrefutable! Like with most applications I use on my Windows NC, these are both Portable Applications. On my Smartphone, I make use of the popular MsDict Viewer (www.mobisystems.com) . And on the world wide web, some sites to visit in your question to improve your grammar are: www.quizlet.com , www.dictionary.com , www.Thesaurus.com and www.wordnik.com .
One tip that most would probably find very useful is using the popular search engine, Google as your dictionary. To search for the meaning and the etymological ancestry of a word, visit www.google.com (or m.google.com on your mobile phone);
type DEFINE followed by the word in which you are interested e,g type ‘DEFINE oppobrium’
and GOOGLE will DE-mystify all !
It must be emphasized that the possession of a prodigious amount of vocalulary does not make you a good communicator. Good construction is like building an architectural masterpiece. You can use the right materials and still get the building wrong. The trick is in how you utilize the pieces.
A certain Member of the Nigerian House of Assembly reputed for using highfalutin and grandiloquent words – comes to mind. While the words he uses exist in the dictionary, he hardly ever makes sense with his sentences!
What about you? Are you applying technology to make you a more compelling communicator? Are you eschewing committing grammatical ‘murders’ in public?
The punishment for such ‘murders is ‘public opprobrium’. I go laugh o o o o o …