“I LOVE COD!”

My youngest child has earned many nicknames, but the one that suits him best is Precious Angel, PA for short.  He earned it partly because I had to call him something to remind myself that he was a precious gift from above in order to keep from tanning his precious little hide, and partly because he has done and said some truly precious things in his few years.  This account stems from the latter.

PA’s daddy and I compete over who is the favorite parent.  In order to win his vote, we take turns reminding him of all the things we’ve done for him over the years.  I like to interject that I had nine additional months of caring for him solely and that his daddy never had to sleep on a bathroom floor (literally) or buy a bigger wardrobe (literally) or take a foot-long needle in the spine (almost literally) before we were blessed with his presence.  In one of these battles, PA asked us to wait in the living room while he made a sign for the one who had the most of his love.  We sat, each certain we would be the winner, while he colored and cut in the kitchen.  When it was time to reveal the winner, we both walked in to find this on our refrigerator:

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“I LOVE COD!”

He made that all by himself.  Isn’t that precious?  How sweeeet!  What?  No, he doesn’t love fish more than Mommy and Daddy.  That’s “GOD”, not “COD”.  I know that because I used context clues to help me figure it out (the exclamation cross was a big hint).  And it helps that I know the writer pretty well, too.  We leave his vote on the fridge as a reminder that we must be doing something right with this kid.  Also, it’s a cute story for our visitors.

As adorable as it is, though, not everyone gets it immediately.  We have had to translate for guests.  It makes perfect sense after we explain it.  We all laugh and say something along the lines of, “Awe, isn’t that the sweetest thing?”  PA was just out of pre-school when he crafted this, so his exchange of letters is excused.  But that’s just it, he was just out of pre-school.  What if he did that now at the ripe old age of 8?  We probably wouldn’t have it so prominently displayed.  I more than likely would offer to help him redo his work.

What if he did that at 25?  Or 40?  It gets less and less cute as you consider more years.  The time for making excuses expires quickly.  Third grade is pretty demanding.  We’re working on writing complete sentences - complete with proper grammar and punctuation and spelling.  It’s tough.  Sometimes he’d rather just watch Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles or build a Lego castle.  I get it.  Writing isn’t a priority for everyone, but clear communication is essential for big kids and grown-ups.  If you’d rather spend your time riding a bike or helping Mario get to the next level or managing your sales team or any number of things other than writing, send the work my way.  I’m here to help.

“Twerking” Has Been Approved

Two weeks prior to the launch of Word Nerd, “selfie” and “twerk” were not recognized as actual English words.  Sure, they were being used, but they weren’t listed in any dictionary.  One week prior to the launch of Word Nerd, those two words, along with forty others, were moved from literary watch lists and added to the Oxford English Dictionary as standard, acceptable words.  Note: I said the word was acceptable, I did not say the act of twerking was acceptable.  Evolution of language is inevitable.  New inventions and discoveries demand new words.  Generations put their own spin on terms by abbreviating or blending them.  Whether we accept the changes or not, they will come.

Changes in grammar and spelling are inevitable as well.  Typically, an official change occurs when a rule is so misused that it becomes the norm.  Does anyone still spell center as centre?  Or neighbor as neighbour?  Which side of the Oxford comma debate are you on?  And where do you stand on ending sentences with a preposition?  The hard and fast rules we learned in school aren’t so cut and dry anymore.  How many rules have I broken in this passage alone?  Have I really broken any rules?

The purpose of language is to communicate.  The purpose of standardized spelling and grammar is to communicate efficiently.  There are studies and articles to back up most opinions, but what it really comes down to is this: Are you getting your point across to your reader?  Does your writing say what you mean for it to say or does your reader have to do some head-scratching and re-reading to figure it out?  The more convoluted your message is, the more likely you are to lose the respect and attention of your audience (also known as your potential customer or employer).

Don’t lose your audience.  Take the time to proofread your message.  Read it out loud.  Have a friend look over it for you.  Don’t have one of those friends?  I’ll be your friend.  Send your words my way and let’s figure it out together.  I’m here to help.  Really.  I mean it.

At your service, ~Word Nerd Jill