Day 101: At times, we have to be cruel to be kind
I was recently criticized for pointing out spelling mistakes in a Facebook post. One person said “Not everyone is raised in the English language, many are foreigners and had to learn the English language as adults. Little do they know that I’m one of them.
Many years ago, I immigrated to South Africa. Easy it was not. Not only did I have to look for a house, furniture, and a job, I had to learn two languages: English and Afrikaans. While I found Afrikaans similar to my home language (Flemish) it was still an adjustment and as for English … that was a whole different kettle of fish.
What little English I knew I had learned from watching TV back home: movies and shows such as Dallas and Dynasty, which were English spoken but carried Flemish subtitles. Knowing what English words meant, and actually speaking them were two very different things thought and my vocabulary was rather limited.
To learn to read and write English, I relied on newspapers, magazines, and books, which I not only read slowly but studied them, paying attention to how words were spelled.
As to be expected, while I was learning, I made a ton of mistakes and my colleague Jenny had a ball with me. She said as much, stating that immigrants were such easy targets. I had a choice, I could either be offended or laugh along. I choose the latter.
These days, people are different, they seem to have lost their sense of humor and are so easily offended. Earlier today, a girl posted the following message on Facebook:
‘I want to be writer. I dont know why but I feeling good when writing. I have recieved lots of praise and am sure my book will top best sellers list.’
Seeing so many spelling mistakes made my skin crawl. Not only that, when people tried to help her with spelling, she became verbally abusive. Of course, others told her not to pay attention to the advice givers and told her that her English was wonderful. It actually went as far as that the advice givers were attacked as being cruel.
This made me wonder … why do people who struggle with the English language want to write an English book? Why not write a story in their own language? And why, when someone is clearly making mistakes, are there people who compliment them? Sure, supporting someone is nice, but it won’t help them. Telling someone their English is wonderful when it clearly isn’t won’t do them any favors.
At times, we have to be cruel to be kind.
Any amount will make a difference.