The Phantom Voice
By Chris Bacalla
Loving words and language-as viewed from the surface-is a boring and mundane activity. But, to love words is to love life. One who loves language has such an appreciation and reverence for life and that around him or her, that they yearn for the best and most precise way(s) to describe it all. To give a weak description of the beauty and horrifying and funny around us is an extreme injustice to it all. Why, then, does “it all” deserve an accurate depiction? Because. If we are to worship anything, why not choose that which we can’t necessarily prove to be “real,” but we are most exposed to and able to, however minutely, manipulate: the world we live in.
The main source of English’s being considered boring is likely the grammar. Me and him, he and I? Who? Whom? Went, had gone? Well or good? There’s always the snobby kid to say “it’s more fun, not funner, Jared!” Honestly, Jared, get your life together. It’s rather nit-picky to point all of these mistakes out to yourself, let alone others. So, common folk and linguists alike have begun to argue that such corrections are unnecessary, as language is meant to convey what we are thinking, and improperly saying “Me” instead of “I” in a given sentence does not hinder the conveyance of referring to oneself. And, they have a point. But, I’d urge the Anti-Proper-Grammar-Society to not stray too far from their opponent, so we are not left in a world of 1984’s Newspeak-a possibility if we continue to devolve in our construction of sentences and limit the common vernacular. Plus, you just sound smarter.
Abandoning the care to say “He and I went” instead of “Me and him went” is, of course, trivial, but it is the dissenting steps that follow such abandoning of rules that I fear. As more rules are ignored, the less complex language becomes. And as the description of our world simplifies, the less equipped we are to appreciate life. How dull. Imagine not being able to explain the absolute hilarity of something to someone, or to find yourself unable to explain your affection for another. Of course, these are the extremes, and I’m not here to mainly be prophetic of humanity. All I’m getting at is that a less full understanding of the English language results in a less full way to love life. Yes, love life. For, when one loves something, one has an unrelenting desire to pay close attention to said thing...as a nun in the film Ladybird put it, “Aren’t they the same thing...love and paying attention?” And to fully love something, one must be able to describe it, to know why you love that thing.
The Beatles were alluding to more than our romantic endeavors when they taught us all we need. Life itself needs to be loved. So, love language. Love its complexities, the annoying entanglements of grammar. And you will, in turn, love life more fully.