Published: August 26, 2012
"Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other," reads Genesis 11:7 in the Bible.
According to the book of Genesis, the Tower of Babel was an enormous tower erected in the plain of Shinar by generations of survivors of the Great Flood.
This collection of humanity spoke a single language, and after migrating to Shinar, set out to build a great city and a tower with its top in the heavens.
God was displeased with this people's attempt to reach the heavens by their own means, and thus, decided to confuse their language.
Discontent and fighting set in, and eventually, they stopped construction.
Some biblical scholars theorize the scene at the Tower of Babel is largely responsible for the plethora of languages and dialects spoken in today.
Regardless of the source in which you place credence, we must agree on this: All our different languages and dialects had to come from some source, sometime.
I used this example as a stepping stone in building this column because I am concerned about the literacy of not only today's students.
There has been talk in the Tennessee General Assembly of no longer requiring cursive writing in public schools. Legislators justified this proposal due to the technology-driven world in which we live.
They say there is no longer a need for cursive writing. Therefore, time and resources shouldn't be wasted on it.
What if you have to sign your name on a check?
What if your car has broken down way out in the boonies late at night, your cell phone has no reception, and after deciding to set out on foot in search of help, you want to leave a hand-written note detailing your name and predicament?
What if you graduate from Vanderbilt University Law School and need to sign a legal document?
It's not your fault though, you weren't taught cursive writing.
Several years back, I was asked to help judge an essay contest being held at a Middle Tennessee high school.
One essay, in particular, was peppered with text-messaging lingo. I brought this to the instructor's attention, and she told me not to worry about it, just to go on and grade it as best I could.
Are you on drugs? I thought to myself.
A couple of years ago, I helped a young college student with her sophomore-level English papers.
Using The Little, Brown Handbook, I coached her to do the following when using a colon: If the first word, after the colon is a proper noun or proper pronoun, the first letter of that word begins with a capital letter. Still, if a complete sentence is the first item listed after the colon, the writer should begin the sentence with a capital letter.
The young lady's English instructor, teaching from the very same handbook, marked off for using a capital letter to begin a complete sentence after a colon.
The instructor's excuse?
I don't care what the book says, I don't like it.
It's interesting: While the confusion in Genesis resulted from the Tower of Babel, those lessons have yet to be applied in today's babble.