This blog is about the story of my family here in America. We arrived in the 1630s as Puritans, and became the common folk of the New World.

What you say about yourself when you use the English language

My ancestors were from England. The language that they spoke became the official language of The United States of America, and is quickly becoming the international language of the world today. And for this, I deeply apologize. For English is a terrible, inconsistent, language. But it's because of its complexity that someone can learn a lot about you just by reading your emails, or even listening to you speak.

The English language is something of a "secret handshake" among those who use it correctly. I know that profiling is wrong, but by reading your emails and listening to how you use the language, I can get a better idea of how I should interact with you. My goal is communication, and I would be a pretty poor communicator if I ignored how you use the language.

• The first thing that I can learn from your use of the language is, of course, if English is not your first language. There are so many inconsistencies in the "rules" of grammar and syntax in English that it is easy to make mistakes like assuming that putting an "s" on the end of a word makes it plural, or putting an "ed" on the end of the word makes it past tense. Again, I sincerely apologize for this terrible language.

• I can tell how much you have read, and what you have read. If you use proper, one might almost say, old-fashioned, syntax, I can tell that you have read a lot of books. If you know how to use the word "whom", I know that you didn't pick it up on the streets. Many people point to this as evidence of a college education, which it can be, but mostly it comes from reading books. Even if you are a reader of ordinary magazines, you come in contact with proper spelling and syntax enough that it "rubs off".

• I can gauge your memory and your intellectual curiosity. The English language is a memory game. There are so few rules, that you simply have to memorize all of its peculiarities. Do it well and you show off an awesome memory - for trivia. And, because it's best learned from the written word, a person who uses it well has to be well-read, and books appeal to those of us with intellectual curiosity.

I have been using the English language for longer than I would care to admit, and am still working on it. It makes me tired, so I'm going to go lie down. Or is it lay down? Seriously, I know which is which, and if you do, too. I'm impressed. If you don't, no big deal.
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