The Importance Of Good Writing

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorCollege, Undergraduate August 2001

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President Bush has taken a lot of heat for his abuse of the language ("Is our children learning?") but it should be clear to most of us that we couldn't do much better were we speaking in public under the same intense media microscope as Bush. Still, I think many of us in the public eye - civic leaders, reporters, business people, teachers, and principals, for instance - need to be much more careful and accurate about our use of the English language, not when we're speaking, necessarily, but when we're writing for the public.

Reading is one of the principal ways we learn about words and sentence structure. If I'm reading an e-mail message, I expect errors, and if there are a few, I don't take the language used there very seriously. When I pick up a book or a newspaper, however, or a letter from my daughter's school, my expectations are raised.

I assume that the writers wish to appear authoritative and educated and that they have access to dictionaries, proofreaders, and the like. I further assume that I should be able to hand such documents to my daughter as examples of good writing and that her language development will not be thrown off course by poor usage or misspelled words. Alas, a quick look through today's edition of my local newspaper yields several gems like this one: "Why at the 21st Annual Herald Day celebration that's where." The back-to-school letter that came in today's mail and whose primary purpose appears to be to convince me that the school is indeed doing a good job of educating my daughter promises an "exiting year" and reminds parents that "Hats, shirts, etc. with Old English lettering is not accepted." After finishing my morning at-home reading and grousing...