First impressions

A friend sent me this clip over the weekend with the following commentary:

I see the language (or variations)  all the time in print and hear it a lot in personal conversations—-business or otherwise. When we see it or hear it don’t we immediately form a positive or negative impression of that person?

Wonder how many business deals go “south” because of this?

My friend is absolutely right about this. Whether we realize it or not, the language we use makes an impression on others. More importantly, people form opinions based on those impressions. It happens almost instantaneously, and usually subconsciously.

The way I see it, there were two mistakes in this article. The quarterback’s double negative is the more obvious, but what about the newspaper’s role in perpetuating it? I understand that this is a direct quote, but there is an editorial convention that should have been employed to address it: sic. By NOT following the original error with [sic], I am led to believe that 1) the writer didn’t notice the error, 2) the writer didn’t care about the error, and/or 3) the paper’s editing/proofreading staff also neither noticed nor cared.

People often make mistakes in the spoken word. Even I end a sentence with a preposition now and then, occasionally drop the Gs from my words in typical Midwestern fashion, or carelessly split an infinitive. Sometimes (hopefully this applies to the quarterback), we talk faster than we think. Dealing in the written word, however, the newspaper has both the time to employ appropriate language standards and the duty to uphold them. After all, the written word lives much longer and can be oft revisited. As grating as I found the original comment, I am much more disappointed in the newspaper.

Yes, I form opinions based on people’s language, and whether you realize it, so do you. Someone once said that a person never gets a second chance to make a first impression. That’s not for nothin’.

Thanks for indulging my grammar rant. I hope you didn’t find it too esoteric; I really believe that words matter.

3 thoughts on “First impressions

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  1. I bet you curl up in a ball on the floor when the local TV newscasts show the “down to Earth” folk describing what happened at a fire, robbery, car wreck, ect. I think the news directors tell the reporters/camera operators to “find the worst looking person there, and get them on camera.” They hardly EVER have decent people as an eyewitness.

    1. I don’t mean to sound like a snob. People are unique and interesting in all walks of life. I just keep trying to hammer home that in very many scenarios, words DO matter.

      1. I didn’t think you WERE sounding like one. But I can remember going through summer radio class with Bob Thomas at Columbia City JOINT High…he MADE us practice saying words like “wash” and “dishes” because of the “Hoosier” in our voices. I have done so, and I KNOW I never would have lasted on the mic as an air talent if I had let it slide. I hear kids saying “words” that are really a verbalization of text shortcuts…I use a few but it makes me cringe…as bad as seeing the clowns on TV when a local story is covered. And I could say a few things about the way these “citizens” look but let’s not go there. Just keep looking out for the misuses, and the misdirection in the English language because we need SOMEBODY doing it.

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