Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Can We Learn To Write Better?

There have been lots of comments lately in the Deaf B/Vlog world about being pre-linguistically Deaf and perfect grammar and usage of vocabulary and so on. I must admit that one of my pet peeves is bad grammar. I was raised by parents who, when I asked what a certain word meant, I was told "go look it up." Agh! I'd have to get out the big, heavy dictionary and look it up. Looking back, getting out the dictionary not only helped me learn what a word meant, also, my eye would also catch on a different word and I'd learn a new word. Those sneaky dictionaries!!

I never could grasp the differences between noun, pronouns, adjectives and verbs. I still struggle with those today and for some reason I cant get it in my head. But if you ask me to correct your paper and check for grammatical errors, I can do that with no trouble-- just don't ask me why it's wrong. I just know it is!! I know my own grammar is not perfect and I catch my own slip-ups from time to time, but I do try to make sure it is accurate and that it makes sense.

I know for Deaf people, translating words in your head to paper can be difficult if no one took the time to explain proper grammar. When you grow up with ASL as your first language and you basically think in ASL, it is hard. Reading books can help but not always, and not everyone likes to read. I happened to grow up with two bookworms for parents and my sister and I caught the reading bug, too. We all still love to read and I admit, that once my kids came along, I cannot allow myself to read any novels. I am the type of reader that once I start, I can't put it down until it's finished. The few times I have read a book, I totally ignored my kids and got irritated at being interrupted. Poor kids! Bad mom! I have settled for reading magazine articles and short stories here and there and once in a while, Hubby will give me a "day off" and take care of the kids so I can get my "book fix". What a sweet, sweet man!

When I was in school, I had classmates that would ask me if I read a certain book, and if I had, would I explain to them what it was about, so they wouldn't have to read the book themselves? For some, I was a walking, talking 'Cliff's Notes'. Sometimes, it was a book I hadn't read yet, so I would read it and be done with it in a few hours. I also remember correcting someones paper and the grammar was...ugh! Gives me a headache just thinking about it! By the time I finished with the paper, it was covered in red marks. Might as well write it all over again!

You CAN learn to write with better grammar, but the bottom line is, I think there is a certain amount of Deaf pride that gets in the way that says "ASL is a language, why should I change?" Some people just don't want to put in that extra effort and learn proper English. I don't judge anyone for how they want to write or what they want to learn. I have learned to live and let live, but why wouldn't you want to learn to write better so that other people don't judge you? They say "First impressions are lasting impressions", well, don't you want to put your best foot forward and be the best you can be at all times?


Karen said...

I think you made a good point-- it starts in the home with parents who encourage reading and can communicate with their deaf kids. :)

Karen Mayes said...

Hmmm... you write pretty well for one who claims to overwhelmed by the idea of writing ;-)

Yes, it all starts at home... read, read, read, communicate, communicate, communicate. I guess that is why my deaf children are fluent in their communication modes...

Smudge said...

I agree, I think it's so important to have everything going for you as a deaf kid. My parents made sure I was reading with them every day until I started school, and I think this has really helped my language skills along.