Vol.XVII No.XI Pg.8
January 1981

Stuff About Things

Robert F. Turner

A good friend, whose initials are Dick Poplin, bemoans the poor grammar displayed in "our" papers, and faulty pronunciation heard from pulpits. If the thieves crucified with Christ had been women he supposes they would be "female-factors" — since "malefactor" is so often pronounced with "long" a. I thought all experienced preachers knew to mumble a bit when reading such passages as John 18:30.

He says "You and I" should not be used in the objective case. "Would we say, 'You have been good to I'?" Of course not — especially after all these objections. And he asks, "Don't they teach them no grammar at school?" As a part-time professor I rise to our defense. Each student is keenly aware of the need to correct errors. As one put it, "I made a mistake once but I seen it no sooner than I done it, and went and taken it back." Now who could ask for more than that?

Dick and I know the Elizabethan age is past; and classic grammar, spelling, syntax, etc., have given way to a more direct though less formal means of communication. This is galling to our generation, even when we realize our own speech and journalism is less than perfect. Knowing the demands of this generation of readers I have found myself reluctantly telling journalism students to cut down on the formalism and "get to the meat" with direct current language. We are seeking to convey ideas, not impress a few readers with our vocabulary.

But underlying bro. Poplin's good-natured comments, and my own, there is a gnawing awareness of something worse than poor grammar. It is the growing "couldn't care less" attitude that keeps people of all educational levels from doing their best.

The "country preacher" today has access to a good basic education if he wants it. He usually has access to good books, but he must want to read them. The country-western emphasis of our day has put a premium on nasal "whang" and poor grammar, and has had its effect on the pulpit. Our singing has degenerated, and "sloppy" talk is supposed to prove one is an O.K. guy. Well, I believe our "country" is worthy of a better reputation. "Casual" doesn't mean "dirty," and the "good" guy still hitches his wagon to a star.