Should We Start A Campaign To Save The English Language?

Recent Commentary From Bill Cosby

"They're standing on the corner and they can't speak English. I can't even talk the way these people talk: 'Why you ain't, Where you is, What he drive, Where he stay, Where he work, Who you be...' and I blamed the kid until I heard the mother talk. And then I heard the father talk. Everybody knows it's important to speak English except these knuckleheads. You can't be a doctor with that kind of crap coming out of your mouth. In fact, you will never get any kind of job making a decent living. People marched and were hit in the face with rocks to get an education, and now we've got these knuckleheads walking around. The lower economic people are not holding up their end in this deal. These people are not parenting. They are buying things for kids. $500 sneakers for what? And, they won't spend $200.00 for Hooked On Phonics. I am talking about these people who cry when their son is standing there in an orange suit. Where were you when he was 2? Where were you when he was 12? Where were you when he was 18 and how come you didn't know that he had a pistol? And, where is the father? Or, who IS his father? People putting their clothes on backwards: Isn't that a sign of something gone wrong? People with their hats on backwards, pants down around the crack, isn't that a sign of something? Or, are you waiting for Jesus to pull his pants up? Isn't it a sign of something when she has her dress all the way up and has all types of needles [piercings] going through her body? What part of Africa did this come from? We are not Africans. Those people are not Africans; they don't know a thing about Africa. With names like Shamiqua, Taliqua and Mohammed, and all of that crap, and all of them are in jail. Brown or black versus the Board of Education is no longer the white person's problem. We have got to take the neighborhood back. People used to be ashamed. Today, a woman has eight children with eight different 'husbands' or men or whatever you call them now. [maria interjects: I think they call them 'significant others.'] We have millionaire football players who cannot read. We have million dollar basketball players who can't write two paragraphs. We, as black folks have to do a better job. Someone working at Wal-Mart with seven kids, you are hurting us. We have to start holding each other to a higher standard. We cannot blame the white people any longer."

- End of Dr. Bill Cosby's Commentary-

Dr. Cosby, I cannot agree with you more. But it is no longer only the blacks doing this, behaving and speaking this way. The whites are also to blame. Apparently, they think it is cute to talk this way, and to sing this way. Just look at the lyrics in the songs that are in the top ten today, and you will see what I mean. We raise to the top, songs with words like "promiscuous" in them. Not only do we accept words like this in songs, now, but I see a growing trend in incorrect English; hillbilly English. This generation seems to applaud that. Now, a ten year old would know what that word means, while in my time (30 years ago) nobody would even think of putting such a word into a song, and much less would it be aired on national radio, and additionally, a ten year old would not have that word in their vocabulary. It is what you focus on, and this generation would prefer to focus on those ugly things about life. There will always be ugly things about life. But why focus on them? This generation seems to like pain (are you kidding, I would never put a hole through my tongue, lip, cheek, or nostril, and/because I hate going to the dentist). I would never get a permanent, colorful etching on my skin with a needle either, no matter how pretty it is. Ouch. I'd rather wear pretty art on a shirt or a handbag. I am appalled sometimes at all the things my little ten year old neighbor girl knows. When I was ten, I was still playing with Barbie Dolls, and did not know about the birds and the bees. I know too many young products of this generation. They live with their grandmas. Their mothers have children with other men, and their fathers are in jail off and on. They are not alone. Thousands live this way in America. What has happened to the wholesome American Way of Life? Is it that it really wasn't that wholesome after all? Can we still take it back? Where did it go wrong? Where is this mind set leading America to? Language is just a reflection of the way we think. Is technology making us lazy thinkers because all we have to do is press a button and wonderful things happen that we take for granted? How about computer shorthand, those little symbols kids are using to communicate? I can't even understand them. When does slang stop being slang to become a part of the actual speech of a language? Have you ever thought of that? I will tell you. It is by usage. The more an expression is used, the more it will become an accepted part of speech. Yes, soon "you ain't" and other inconsistencies will become a real part of our language and they will even appear in the dictionary in time, if we do not do something about it. Is that how we really want to sound? Think before you open your mouth next time, to utter incorrect English. Be an example to others.

Is my generation to blame for this onset of what appears to be degeneration? When Mick Jaggar sang, "I ain't got no......satisfaction" (and note that he is from England) did that start something? I know the British probably feel that we degenerated their language...after all, they are the "motherland." We certainly don't speak like they do, though. We even have different words such as "elevator" which contrasts to their "lift." They say, "Where is the 'loo,'" and we say, "Where is the bathroom?" When a people break off from the mainland, things change. Accents change. Words change. Attitudes change. What is happening in America? Does it have to be Ghetto?

We cannot blame it on the influx of the 4 million illegal Mexicans who come over the border every year. Else, we'd be adapting to their customs....but that is not the case, and that would be the subject of an entirely different hub. I think the degeneration we see is just a sub-culture that is growing because it is deemed to be "cool," and there must be a lot of young people out there who think it is so. But wait, I've seen older people thinking it is cool, too. But I ask them now, to re-think what road they are taking, where this is leading them, so that they might reconsider and re-focus on more positive thoughts in their music, in their speech, and in their fashion.

We become what we think about......so let's start thinking positively and with constructive thoughts for our world. The rest will take care of itself.

Dr. Bill Cosby

A Smart Man...
A Smart Man...

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Comments 12 comments

Tlap 9 years ago

Hey maybe the movie 'idiocracy' about the future cultural anti-intellectualism is not that far off! Good post.


William F. Torpey profile image

William F. Torpey 9 years ago from South Valley Stream, N.Y.

Cosby's remarks deal with results, but fail to look at cause. I think people who are unprepared to compete in our industrialized world tend to create a world in which they believe they can compete. The failure to learn proper English, I believe, comes from the belief that one cannot compete with those who have wealth and position, so one tries to compete instead with those of the same class with the same drawbacks. Unless all of us make the effort to communicate with a common, workable language, we will construct our own Tower of Babel. Those with the upper hand must lend a helping hand to those who need it.


maricarbo profile image

maricarbo 9 years ago Author

Good point. Thanks for your comment.


Lisa Barger 9 years ago

I am SOOO glad my son never got into the whole "thug" culture.  This is a big thing at his high school right now--with the "ghetto" speech and the pants-around-the-thighs look and the pseudo-gang affiliations.  The fact that these kids want to be "different" doesn't bother me.  It's that whole attitude of disrespect for anyone or anything else that makes me fear for our future.


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maricarbo profile image

maricarbo 7 years ago Author

I am still astounded by the fact that more and more I see a deterioration in the English language here. I've noticed that when people write they sometimes leave off the "ed" at the end of the word as if they didn't know it had it in the first place.

I think the problem might be a result of many different things that we might not be aware of, but I think I can think of some. For example the tremendous influx of Mexicans with poor English skills has to have had some sort of effect on the language as well, and another thing I can think of is poor English education in the schools. In the Florida Panhandle, people have been speaking incorrectly for a long time, and even the teachers speak like that. Their speech is full of grammatical errors, errors in tense, and in singularity or plurality....How do you turn that around... You can only turn it around with more education, but then, when they go back home, the incorrect language ensues. It is a Catch22.


Bard of Ely profile image

Bard of Ely 7 years ago from Lisbon, Portugal

Back where I lived before on the Ely council estate in Cardiff in Wales  loads of people could not speak proper English and it was not because they spoke Welsh - they couldn't speak that at all!

Instead of I go to town, people might say "I goes to town" and the use of "aint" is commonplace. It forms a sort of reverse snobbery where people who speak well are frowned upon. For example a person who uses the incorrect English might say: "I doan like 'er coz she talks posh like."

As Lisa Barger correctly observes above, it is part of "thug culture."

It is basically a breaking down of English and society as it was.

I think the most important thing of all though is communication!


maricarbo profile image

maricarbo 7 years ago Author

I know, I know, communication is the important thing...but I don't know why they teach you to go by certain strict rules in school, all throughout school, drilling it and drilling it, and then unleash you out onto a rough world where none of those rules are respected....even in the higher institutions....go figure!


MrsHiggins 7 years ago

Hey, guys. To all who rip on the English language "degenerating":

For as long as language has existed, its nature has been to change. Even from its origins, English is change. It started as the Celtic dialects of the tribes living on the great islands that became the U.K., then, as Germanic tribes invaded, bringing their own language plus additions from their Roman neighbours speaking Latin, the language became a mix of the Germanic and Celtic languages. There was no way to regulate the language spoken commonly, even in Rome--the common folk mostly spoke a vulgar Latin, and the higher educated spoke Greek as well as Latin. That vulgar Latin turned into Italian, if you can believe it. No language is "pure". Even after the Germanic tribes came in, the Norman Conquest further added to the English language, giving it much of its similarity to French. Have you ever been to a rendez-vous, or even a cafe? Small examples of what the Norman invaders added to the English culture. As people began to speak English again, an event called the "Great Vowel Shift" took place. Pronunciation of vowels, as well as some of the vowels appearing in words, changed. Even in the last century, technology aside from the telegraph, telephone, and television has changed our language by the expansion of exposure. Language is meant to morph to surroundings and adapt to fit the audience. Think: even in the Roman Empire, travels and conquests gave a reason for members of the Roman Empire to learn languages other than their own to communicate with slaves or servants, leaders, and anyone else.

Just think on it.


maricarbo profile image

maricarbo 7 years ago Author

You might have a point, Mrs. Higgins!


Hellion 5 years ago

I agree that language is devolving and is being corrupt, I also agree that it is not childrens fault, as ignorance breeds ignorance. But our schools are also to blame, both sides of the pond. Teachers allow bad grammar and spelling. We do need language to continue striving and evolving.

What I do not agree with, is how the degeneration of language has been pinned on all those who choose to have "needles" in their skin and artwork permanently engraved upon their bodies. I love language and it pains me to see people use the wrong spelling of "you're" or "their". Yet I have holes in my ears and lips. I also have more than one tattoo. All this is hidden when working, but my free time is time to be me, and if I am judged as an illiterate fool because of it then you are the fools.


maricarbo profile image

maricarbo 2 years ago Author

No, Hellion, I am not blaming you or your contemporaries for the degeneration in language. I believe it is a problem of the "collective," which means all of us. I think it is a problem of relaxing our language rules, and I think that there are many factors involved. At any rate, I think the problem is too huge right now for anyone to seriously be able to do anything about it. I think right now we will just have to ride it out and see where it takes us. Yes, communication IS important. That is why language was created. I just hope that we can eventually positively understand each other, that our understandings be good for all, and that we not use language as a barrier in our country, because it has a way of separating us into different groups; subcultures.

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