Kenyans should mind their language

If Kenyans are going to rise up and change the world, I for one am a strong contender that they should at least do so with proper English!

It is not my concern if English supposedly came from the western world or could be construed as a stamp of neo-colonialism, if you learnt the language in school so that you could understand most of what was being said around you, then please learn to speak it and write it properly.

It is a fact that from one end of the earth to another, English is the most common language – and this for the purpose of communication. There are a number of regions where speaking French or Arabic could get you by, but you would be asking for a miracle if you even tried to speak ‘sheng’ in Zambia, let alone Finland.

Before anyone out there is going to give me chance enough to speak my mind, they must first understand whatever it is that I am saying. Kenyans are generally very eloquent people, but the emergence of very strange gab on our emails and sms’ is threatening a lot of things.

One important ‘thing’ is the chance of getting a job. Nowadays, employers cross their fingers in the hope that they will be able to piece together the words being spoken to them. Maybe this is why older people are more likely to get the jobs they apply for against younger people; because they can be understood!

I even know a few young professionals who go through a very tiring process of sifting out youth who can speak English, which is almost directly linked to professionalism. Somehow having better command of the language gives an aura of ‘knowledge’ and ‘intelligence’.

So it’s safe to say that a lot of young people who complain about not being able to get jobs should tuck in their shirt tails and learn some good English. They should try to read books instead of watching movies so that the words they see on billboards begin to take shape!

And then when they see these words on job application forms, they make even better sense and raise their chances of being short-listed. Another area where young people tend to suffer is on the social scene. No adult will give them a break until they can hear some proper English being spoken.

I for one find that most of the people that I would rather text back are those who spell out their words; so that ‘da’ becomes ‘the’, and ‘fon’ is the ‘phone’ we know it to be.

Do you remember those days when you’d ‘borrow’ French phrases to hit a point home? I dare you to conduct a survey to see how many people under 23 know what ‘tete a tete’ means.

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