Saturday, October 22, 2011

Certified Word Nerd

How does one become a certified word nerd?  I don't think there is a form to fill out or a test to take or a real certificate to give one the distinction; it is more of a self proclaiming certification.

I proclaim myself certified word nerd.  I love words.  I have always loved words.  I only speak English myself, but I love to listen to others who speak different languages.  I can often pick out a word here and there that sounds similar to an English word.  Plus, I just love the different inflections that are used in all the different languages around the world.  Even regional differences in the way that English is spoken is interesting to me.  I also like the way words feel in my mouth.  I have always enjoyed learning new words and expanding my vocabulary.
My love for words also extends to the written word.  I fondly remember at age five my sister teaching me the sounds of the letters and how make the letters into words.  I was overjoyed at the whole new world reading opened up for me.  I was the first one in my first grade class to read 50 books.  I have been a lover of books ever since.
As I grew older I started not only reading avidly, but also writing.  Forming my thoughts into sentences and writing them down is a delightful and cathartic experience for me.  When I was a teenager I wrote poetry and as time went on I wrote more prose.  I find myself on a regular basis keeping myself awake as I 'write' things in my head.  It doesn't matter to me if anyone ever reads it - I must write it.  It is part of who I am just like the fact that I have red hair and freckles.  I can't change it and I don't really want to; it just fits.
I appreciate that not everyone shares my passion.  Everyone is gifted and built in different ways.  That is as it should be.  I am glad that there are people in the world who know what the square root of 15,257 is.  I am thrilled that there are engineers and pilots and doctors and service people out there.  The world has need for all people in all capacities who contribute to society.
I understand all the reasons why people think the way they write, even in casual forums isn't important.  I just don't happen to agree with their reasons.  I am not good at math, but I still took the time to learn the basic math facts.  If I don't know something that I need to know about math, I look it up or use a calculator.  It is no different with grammar, spelling and punctuation.  If you are in a situation where you need to write, you should at least be equipped with the basics.  If you find yourself stumped, there is always the dictionary or that nifty little spell-check button.
The reality is everyone can benefit from basic knowledge of the English language and how to present it in its written form.  No matter what your true gift or occupation is, you will run into opportunities to present yourself in writing.  I lament that fact that people feel it is not important how they present themselves when these opportunities arise.  I fear that in this day of net-speak, texting and IM, people are becoming too lax in their writing skills and feel that is not necessary to really learn the rules of writing properly.
I realize I can't really change the mind of someone who is adamantly opposed to caring how they present themselves in writing, but it doesn't take away from the passion that I have for words and putting them in the proper order.  That doesn't mean I scorn anyone who can't write properly.  I don't poke fun or call them stupid.  I have great respect for anyone who has trouble in this area and still cares enough to try to present themselves well when writing.  I understand inability, but I don't comprehend apathy.