Thursday, May 6, 2010

Me talks English reel good

I have spent a considerable amount of both time and money throughout the years perfecting my knowledge and usage of the English language.

I've read like a maniac since the day I could first hack out sentences in my Easy-Reader. I actually loved English class for teaching me grammar and how to diagram sentences, a sentiment the majority of my classmates did NOT share. I had a college-level vocabulary in the eighth grade and pretentiously use big words in everyday conversations. I've done two degrees in English-related fields, and the last one contained a grammar-INTENSIVE course that pretty much knocked out any English mistakes that creep into my writing with a mallet the size of the Washington monument.

Before I got to Jordan, I could write 3,000-word articles for magazines with not a single mistake in grammar, spelling or typing. I could edit articles all day for the same. I was an almost foolproof proofreader who took the time to look up grammar rules at work if I was the least bit unsure. They called me the comma queen at my last job because I knew a rule for placing or taking out a comma anywhere in the sentence almost every time.

I was GOOD at English. Not just James Brown "I Feel Good" good but Mohammad Ali "I AM the Greatest" good.

Then I got to Jordan. Now I spend all day every day listening to broken English. I read children books more than I read adult books. I constantly correct 5th grade English essays that, while good for their age and ability level, can contain every type of grammar, punctuation or spelling mistake out there.

And tragically I'm absorbing English mistakes into my own writing at an alarming and disheartening rate, and my English level has plummeted down to a barely passing 5th grader's. Yep. I just might fail my own class.

When I speak on the phone to someone I know doesn't understand English very well, I find myself saying things like, "No, that's bad time. You come later? I wait you." or copying phrases such as "near to" from my foreign friends.

When writing, I have homophone trouble the likes of which would make my Magazine Editing teacher burst into tears of frustration, and today I managed to spell "their" on the board as "thier." Twice. And my kids had to correct it for me. SO embarrassing.

I'm starting have the urge to read incredibly long, intellectual novels in flawless English... just to prove I still can. WHILE I still can.

Because tomorow mine english mite not is so good.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for posting this! I do not have a degree in English; however, English is my first language. I have recently started working here in Amman with Arabs who speak faily good English, yet it is still broken. The CEO of the company always asks me to correct the English of certain documents and I feel as though I have forgotten my own language. As I type my own documents for work, I get confused on what to write! I also get lost in my own conversation, because I start to speak broken English to assure myself that they understand me; however, I can't understand myself sometimes! UGH! Thanks!