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Mind Your Language, or Suffer The Consequences

Using the proper language at all times is something everybody should do. Such a statement is so matter-of-fact that it is difficult to argue against it.

Recently, I was watching old videos on YouTube from the 60s and 70s where some physicians interviewed patients. Most of the comments from other viewers pointed out that people were very articulated and used the language appropriately in these interviews. It certainly looked like a thing of old times. People in the past were more fluent and spoke better than folks do in the present, even during a stressful medical situation.

Some of the comments were:

“Were people more articulate back then? Nowadays every other word would be ‘You know..?’….. ‘Like, you know?'”

“Nothing is more irritating than people who don’t speak at least semi-literate so I gotta agree with you 100%”

True, the patients in the videos are Americans, so English is their native language, and they used it very well, even beautifully. The point some viewers made is that native speakers of today are lazy or not well-informed on how to use English compared with people from the past.

At the same time, a family member shared with me an old newspaper clip that one of his teachers shared with him years ago. It tells about how non-English speakers may tear English to shreds when they translate incorrectly. It is amusing to read the wrong translations that the writer found from places like Bangkok, Austria, and Mexico. You can read a scan of the article in the main image that accompanies this post.

Both incidents made me think about how important it is to care when using language in any situation. Language is a reflection of our thinking process, and the use we make of it demonstrates how attentive with grammar and considerate with our listeners we are. Whether we are a translator or a native speaker, we have to be scrupulous when speaking or writing.

Watch the video here and read the article. What opinion do you have about the use of the language nowadays compared with 50 or 60 years ago? What are the reasons for such different use? Leave your comments below!


Ames, Paul. Mind Your Language, or Suffer The Consequences. Accessed 27 July 2020. Old newspaper clip collected without information of the publisher.‌

Pika Grape Snack. “PANIC DISORDER 1960s Psychiatric Interview with Man from Tennessee.” YouTube, 28 July 2019, www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Q_Xqg2pGxg. Accessed 28 July 2020.

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