If I Wanted to Murder my English Teacher

by Robin Elliott on October 24, 2014

20141019_135307 If I wanted to murder my South African high school English teacher, I could easily do it by getting her to commit suicide. Of course I would never do that, because I loved my English teacher. She was an alcoholic who stank of cigarette smoke, drank during class from a bottle of brandy she kept in her desk drawer, and taught us invaluable lessons that have stood us students in good stead for life when it comes to language. She opened up a new appreciation for English and new vistas of language discovery.

How would I get her to commit suicide? I would simply force her to listen to North Americans speaking English and read what the vast majority here write. Their deplorable massacre of the English language is shocking. And it’s not limited to the mindless masses! Newspapers, journalists, newsreaders, politicians, talk show hosts – it’s an epidemic. They even make up words on a daily basis and no-one bats an eyelid. I’m not a writer and I don’t claim to be an English major by any means, but at least my English teacher would tolerate me, and she seldom flung her wooden blackboard duster at me.

But this isn’t about killing my dear English teacher; she probably didn’t live much longer anyway, given her addictions. No – this is about allowing our skills to deprive us of wonderful opportunities. When I left the hotel and restaurant business (real restaurants – not the feeding troughs that call themselves restaurants), I used to be so preoccupied by bad service and other things that I would would have fixed had I been the manager, that I couldn’t enjoy my meals.

An English teacher would be so distracted by this North American perversion of English that she might miss an important marketing message or business communication. An expert videographer or a graphic artist might be so perturbed by what they may deem bad pictures or weak layouts that they don’t act upon a lucrative opportunity. Noticing spelling or grammatical mistakes or bad layouts doesn’t help you – it hinders you.

So, if you have an analytical bent or a special skill, be aware of the downside. We need to learn to get over ourselves and get on with life. Don’t let the window of opportunity slam shut on your nicotine stained fingers while you simmer at unimportant inaccuracies – that would be, in the word of my erstwhile English teacher, a phantasmagorical inexactitude. Look at the big picture – look past the other stuff.

Robin Elliott LeverageAdvantage.com

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