I need to own up. Though I’m part of a species that has been around for generations, I am not from your planet. I come from the square-shaped planet - Aw’cheu (Pronounced as Ach-ooo; Yes, the same sound that you humans seem to make when you sneeze.) Thousands of years ago, the then king of Aw’cheu, my great-grandfather Ack’isu (Pronounced as Acc-iu) had a visitor from another planet. As is the norm in our land, whenever we have a foreign dignitary visit Aw’cheu, the king orders for the twenty-six characters that form the Aw’cheu Hieroglyphs to be sparkled, shined and displayed in the public courtyard. And it was no different this time around too. But fate intervened. One of the aides slipped on the rung of the ladder that was holding him up, and the entire set of characters fell down the chute that led to your planet. My great-grandfather immediately ordered the assembly of a recovery team who would go down the chute and bring back the characters that were the very symbol of Aw’cheu. However, no one had ever been to Earth before and was therefore cautious about the dangers that lurked in the shadows of the blue planet. The bravest of them all, my grandfather Prince Schucergha (pronounced Shoe-sera), promptly gathered a band of Aw'cheuites warriors and decided to undertake the mission to retrieve our most prized possession. On the day of his departure, he sought the King's blessings and slid down the chute into the unknown with his team.
Days soon turned into months, and we heard nothing from my grandfather. However one day, there was a knock on the door that had been built over the chute to prevent any further mishaps. Our weakened King ordered the chutes to be opened to welcome our unknown visitor. As the giant wooden doors opened up into the grey skies, a giant blue creature rose from the chute with a large piece of parchment tried to its feet. The parchment turned out to be a letter from Prince Schucergha with updates about his mission. My grandfather had discovered that when our Aw’cheu characters had fallen through the chute, they were collected by your forefathers who refused to hand them over. A battle ensued in which my grandfather and his band of warriors were defeated. In order to restore peace, my grandfather agreed to teach them how to use the characters to build a proper and effective communication system. And that’s how your English Alphabet was born.
It is quite natural to wonder why I may be writing this letter to you today. But I assure you that it is not without reason. As generations flew by, we continued to keep tabs on how you adopted and adapted to the language. Initially, we were ecstatic. You managed to develop it a lot further than what we could have ever imagined to. However, at some point circa 2000 years after that man JC passed away, two discoveries known as the Internet and Mobile Phones, started to create a bit of disorder. So we took matters back into our own hands. Together with many learned scholars from our peers, we formed an elite group called the IGPD, who were committed to right any wrongs that had been done to what was once a very special vernacular. Yes, we make mistakes too. Some of you are still alive because of that. If we had our way, you’d be languishing at the bottom of the deepest cavern on this planet while hot, molten lava poured from the top slowly consumed your physical being. Are you shuddering at the mere thought of that? Well, that’s how we feel when you vandalise the language.
Normally, we wouldn’t hesitate to kick your lovely, plump behinds. However we have been specifically told that there are rules that govern these sort of activities. So we’ve had to take deep breaths and walk around with a fake smiles on our faces, while silently correcting your grammar and spellings. But the world of blogs and social media opened up new worlds and avenues for us. They let us interact with some of your more learned and esteemed figures, who were proud to join forces, to battle this unprecedented evil. Together, we realised, that we could be the bigger (and better) beings and just try to teach you those skills again. Yes, the same ones that my grandfather and his warriors taught your great-forefathers. Given how wide-spread the epidemic is, we realise that it may take a lot longer than we originally anticipated. But we will not give up without a fight.
On that note, as part of this welcome letter, here are a few tips (and cheats as you call it) from our newly published e-book : English 101 for the Modern Online Human.
The Similar Sound conundrum
There are many words in the English language that sound very similar. But let me assure you that they are not interchangeable. So get a dictionary if you want to. These are some of those words that you may come across:
A missed comma or a period (don’t laugh!) can create a lot of havoc. So please pay attention when you write sentences. Even if it is on your blog. It may save a few lives. For example: “Don’t wear black people.” and “Don’t wear black, people.” could be the difference between you being construed as a racist or a normal human being.
The Short character syndrome
The Short Message Service (or SMS as you humans call it) undid all the hard work that my grandfather put in. And then came that cheeky, little blue bird that masquerades as “Twitter” restricting everyone to 140 characters or less. Hence I understand the need to use slangs and sometimes acronyms in order to ensure you don’t overshoot the imposed character limits. But aren’t you taking it a stretch too far when you decide to use these “short characters” on a daily basis? Sometimes even in professional emails, letters and articles.
For example: The word “before” is spelt “BEFORE”, not B4. It’s English, not a game of Bingo.
The curious case of the English Language
English is a funny language. Not everything is pronounced the way you read, nor is everything written the way it is pronounced. Deal with it! You will get used to it. Haven't you heard - Practice makes perfect. For example: Did you want to “ask” me or “axe" me? I’m pretty sure one is murder.
So you see, we aren't entirely cruel. We appreciate that the English language is not easy to master. And we don’t judge humans based on creed, race, colour of skin, religion, gender, like you do. None of those classifications matter to us. That’s not to say we don’t judge. We totally do. But we base it on spelling, grammar, punctuation and sentence structure.
So the next time you vandalise the English language (which is rightfully ours), do not be surprised if we slowly creep up behind you and whack on the head until you get it right.
Thank you for your attention.
Ser’qua'eeq Burdraurnelmy Communication Lieutenant IGPD - Intergalactic Grammar Police Department To Correct | To Serve
P.S. I’ll let you off for good behaviour if you can pronounce my name correctly.
[This post is written for the Project 365 program at We Post Daily aimed at posting at least once a day, based on the prompts provided. The prompt for today was "Tell us a joke! Knock-knock joke, long story with an unexpected punchline, great zinger — all jokes are welcome! " I agree that this is not really a joke-kind of post. But Ser'qua'eeq has connections who are holding my family hostage until I publish this post. Since there had to be a joke, here's one that keeps with the theme:All images are courtesy of Google Image Search. And my sincere apologies to the IGPD for any grammatical inconsistencies.
"Ouch! That hurt!" *rubs the back of his head*