The sad case of language versus words

Arrogance without foundation is a manifestation of profound and chronic ignorance.  –– T.S. Eliot

It was with this observation of the former British publisher, essayist, and literary and social critic that a noted writer among us was moved to buttress his own conclusion that more and more people were fancying themselves the critic, caring not for Mr Eliot’s perception that an analyst ought to be genuinely quite intelligent.

We will add to that: logical as well.

In our line of media work some things do go wrong sometimes. Howlers are a media professional’s bad dream –– maybe indeed, worst nightmare. They can ambush you when deadlines are snapping at your feet, and the publication editor stands over you leering –– that’s not the longing look; it’s the stare with a sneer.

This, of course, is no excuse to get it all wrong. Professional as we are, we must strive to be right every time. When we make the unmistakable slip, we must take our fair share of flailing.

It is an entirely different matter, though, when we are thwacked and thrashed and thrown under the bus of snide remarks by the “uninitiated and unknowledgeable” who wallow in denseness and insensitivity to turns of phrase and more refined literary devices. Our recent Editorial headline Let Windies Beware Eyes Of March . . . did not lack for attention and opaque judgement from the shortsighted.

There was the ready, but unprepared smartphone and Facebook censuring corps railing: Error, error; misspelling; misthinking; wrong, wrong! Even a cursory reading of the Editorial by those practised in English comprehension would have established that it was the West Indies cricket team on whom the eyes of Caribbean supporters would be focused, and that they had better take care to up their game this March as they marched to the ICC Twenty20 World Cup in Bangladesh. To square it off, we would play on Shakespeare’s Idesof March warning.

Sadly, cyberappraisal is not without its deficiency, demerit and dumbness.

We are reminded by the above-mentioned noted writer:

There is this brigade of buffoons who, on assuming they are part of this country’s intelligentsia, have taken criticism to a fresh low  –– the bowels of the earth.

The weblogs, chat rooms, Messenger, Twitter, Facebook will be the doom of us all if these shallow language brigands are allowed to inflict unabashedly on us their daily uninformed knowledge chaos.

Regrettably, on these new media, the horde of mavericks keep hoisting upon their heads and shoulders a responsibility they are unable and unfit to carry.

Driven by a misplaced expectancy of influence with their freedom of expression and assumption of an authority of language communication, which they certainly do not possess, they gird their loins with a passion towards correcting  and hopefully shaming the professional.

These enemies of the English language pounce with haste, seeking to strangle those of us who have a much healthier appreciation for and understanding of the tongue, who they think have slipped up. Theirs is a criticism that is caustic, condescending –– and dead wrong.

This aliterate state into which we would plummet has been encouraged by the flash and fluff of the smartphone and new media. Opinion and thoughts are instant, actually requiring no thinking. All this in a society that has set about de-emphasizing what it contemptibly terms “too much emphasis on
the academics”, including having a good grasp of the English language and its components.

Then, the decision makers will wonder why fewer and fewer people can read, and why spotting a classic pun is literarily challenging!

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