Public Relations Blog

Language is important: Don’t call me “stupid”!

2016 Presidential Election
Image via someecards.com

As a PR person I am trained to manipulate the English language to express what I need  to, at any given moment.  As a kid I was pushed by parents who spoke foreign languages and insisted on proper verb agreement and other basic grammatical sentence structures. Since I spend so much time glued to the words I hear, it’s very depressing to find nearly every newscaster and public speaker having trouble with “there is” and “there are”.  For all of you out there who know what I mean, thank you!  For everyone else, “there is” is to be used when speaking of a single item; “there are” is for more than one.  There is a storm brewing.  There are a lot of storms in the Midwest at this time of year.  Slurring the words together in a slack form of “there’s” is not acceptable and does not excuse anyone from knowing that “is” relates to one thing.

It has been particularly interesting to watch the Presidential races of the past decade.  First Obama’s team put together a brilliant campaign aimed at those people who are heard less in this country.  Many of them are on the internet, and between using social media well, and papering low-income neighborhoods, Obama was able to win the election…twice.

2016 is shaping up to be a different animal altogether.  This is the age of referring to the words of co-candidates as “stupid” and telling your constituents to “sit down and shut up”.  If I thought our problems rested in the way we put together sentences, I was so wrong.  We seem to have fallen into a schoolyard, junior-high world where sounding like you just came out of the local pub on the corner and you are yelling at a guy who ran the stop sign, is the way to express yourself.

Who cares if your suit costs $5000? If you comb your hair or even take a shower?  Gee whiz, how debasing it is to watch potential world leaders practically pull out “nah, nah, nah, nah, nah, naaahhhh” (again, schoolyard).

And even funnier is to hear them actually put each other down.  A newscaster recently pointed out that “sit down and shut up” didn’t think  “stupid” has the proper “temperament” for the presidency.  Meanwhile another candidate from the other party decided to go all out and label a domestic terrorist a religious zealot commonly found in occupied territories in the Middle East.

Have these public figures spent too much time on Instagram and Snapchat?  Or have they made too many appearances on late night television? I’m not sure what’s happening, but it is sad to watch “stupid”, “sit down and shut up” and “religious zealot” standing at their podiums trying to tell us that they are going to take the country in a direction that will provide for the common welfare and keep us safe.  I mean, really, it isn’t proper for us to be pointing and laughing behind our hands when our national leaders are trying to be serious.

 

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