To Articulate or Not To Articulate…

Each new semester that begins and with every new class of students I encounter, I try to make the sincere point of how important it is to articulate your thoughts when speaking, whether to a group of people or one-to-one. I also highly recommend how important reading is to advancing your skills of articulation, not to forget mentioning how vital it is to your grasp on grammar, sentence construction and ability to spell.

Many today, are under the belief that public school teachers have, for years, been  ‘dumbing it down’ when teaching students. Maybe so, but there is no question that there is nothing more frustrating than to witness and experience someone who clearly cannot spell or does not have the verbal skills to articulate their thoughts.

More and more often, I encounter people who will use the word ‘like’ multiple times in just one sentence. It is verbal defense mechanism employed by those who just do not have an extensive knowledge of words and/or the ability to construct a sentence. Then, there are the numerous times, I have witnessed the absolutely horrific spelling mistakes on the most basic words we use in language – ie: weather vs. whether or bright vs. breyet. Yes, I am aware of dyslexia and other certain, specific learning disabilities, but not everyone who makes these types of mistakes is dyslexic or suffering from some form of Aphasia. For most, the problem surfaces when the truth is revealed that they just do not read or cannot be bothered to look up a word’s meaning and just skip over it.

Am I being too hard on those who cannot speak or spell or write incorrectly? Maybe, but in my heart I have the most sincere intentions.

Most students are just not aware of how unforgiving some people in the music industry and other businesses are when it comes to ignorance. This is not an act of intolerance; in fact our world actually tolerates these levels of ignorance, further perpetuating the problem. It can be seen rather frequently on news websites, including high profile ones including CBC, CNN and BBC. The current crop of young journalists, continue to exemplify the consistent breakdown of grammar and spelling and not just on news websites. I witness it on the numerous music and entertainment websites I surf daily. Most times I just shake my head and read on, and on occasion I vow not to read anything by said journalist or website anymore.

So, why am I so concerned? Well, I would hate to think of any student witnessing or experiencing first hand the unforgiving attitude of many in the business. I have seen Dept. Directors, Managers and Company Presidents after reading a report, bio, press release, etc. by an employee or listening to someone explain a scenario/situation – then look that person square in the eye and either ask them where they went to school or just simply tell them they are no longer qualified to perform a job function. I once witnessed a Publicity person be told they were being removed from that position because their spelling and word pronunciation abilities was unacceptable and an embarrassment to the company and in front of artists. I once witnessed a media journalist tell a Label Manager that any press release from that label would not be printed unless whoever was writing the press release learned how to spell and improve their grammar.  After all, it is not the media publications job to correct the providers’ mistakes.

No, I am not trying to be hard on those who fault nor am I being intolerant of illiteracy (that is something altogether different). What I would like to see is every student get better at what they do for a living and I can guarantee in this business we call the ‘Music Industry’ you will find yourself, at some point, in a position where you will be required to speak coherently to one person or a group, write something vitally important for your artist or, at the very least, find yourself amongst people who can articulate – and if you are unable to keep up with the conversation or perform your job function properly, you WILL find yourself in a very uncomfortable situation, time and again.

Remember, the ability to speak fluently and write words is a gifted human art form just like painting or creating music and it takes practice. I should also make note that a defense mechanism of most unread people is to ‘put down’ or berate anyone with any degree of intellect. Do not lower yourself or give into these masses. Intellectualism is cool and will help open doors you once may have thought you could never open.

Finally, to keep things on the lighter side, here is couple of visuals to amuse yourself while you ponder my words. The late, great comedian Bill Hicks performed a comical bit on reading and intellectualism. Certainly worth watching on YouTube.

Or, if you would like a glimpse into our possible future filled with inarticulate, grammatically incorrect people, then check out the Mike Judge (Family Guy) film starring Luke Wilson. It’s called ‘Idiocracy’. Hilariously funny and deeply disturbing in a most satirical way.

Idiocracy poster