Students should know, use proper language for success

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    Walking up the stairs in the Bass Building a few semesters ago, I overheard a conversation between two young women.”That’s so ironic,” one of them said, turning to the other.

    “Ironic?” the second girl asked, turning up her nose. “That’s not a real word.”

    TCU students aren’t the only ones who have a vocabulary problem.

    One of my professors frequently discusses the “statue” of limitations on certain laws. My friends and I are in a heated debate over whether the “statue” is a stone sculpture or perhaps a nice copper.

    Words are tools that, if properly employed, have tremendous weight. They can calm a friend or break a heart. They can set your r‚sum‚ or term paper apart from the pack. Every time a word is misused, it loses some of its value as a precision instrument.

    I understand that certain terms are characteristic of regional dialects. I’ve watched helplessly as “y’all” and “fixin’ to” have sneaked past my defenses and infiltrated my own speech. Some usage, however, is just plain wrong.

    “Whatever” is not the proper response to any question or statement. Nor is its abbreviated, more annoying form, “whatev.” “Womens” is not the plural of “woman.”

    All college students should know the proper conjugation of verbs like “to be,” “to have,” “to go” and “to do.” Also, I may lose it if I ever hear the phrase “done gone” again. You went to the bar Saturday night. You did not “done gone.” If you’re old enough to drink, you’re old enough to know the difference.

    The word “all” never has an “s” in it. “Alls you got to do,” is not proper. Even less correct is the form I usually hear – “alls you gots to do.”

    A lot of the language I hear on campus is fine for casual conversation. However, the problem occurs when students use the same language with professors and employers that they use with friends in the hallways. Formal writing also has its own set of rules and requirements.

    A university education is meant to prepare students for professional jobs. Improper grammar is not the way to make your point in a business proposal.

    I am not saying that my speech is perfect. My conversations are peppered with fillers such as “like,” “ummm,” “errr,” and my personal favorite, “weeellll.” And although I don’t speak the King’s English all the time, I have a couple of superb grammar and usage books to consult when I need them. With the right tools – and after some practice – three-syllable words don’t seem as scary.

    My suggestion? Go to the bookstore and charge a dictionary and a thesaurus to send-home. If you don’t own a decent writing manual, maybe throw in a copy of Strunk & White’s “The Elements of Style,” just for good measure. Your parents probably won’t mind as much as they did when you spent $30 on TCU flip-flops.

    Lacey Krause is a senior periodical design major from Emporia, Kan.