Use your words

Mike Davies, Editor-in-Chief Ω

I’m becoming seriously disappointed in the way people treat language.

Like it ain’t no thang.

Like it’s jus somethin that we jus use cuz it gets across what we think. lol

I don’t think people realize that the slack-ass, lazy way they communicate not only makes them sound less intelligent, but could also literally make them less intelligent over time.

Think about it. The lazier you become in your communication, the lazier your brain will get.

I’m not just making this up, either. There are numerous scientific studies that directly connect language to thought.

For example, a study published in July 2012 in Psychological Science, one of the premier research journals of psychological examinations produced by the Association of Psychological Science, is one of many that has studied the effects of language use on brain functions.

“Our findings indicate that processing the syntax of language elicits the known substrate of linguistic competence,” according to the study by Monti, Parsons and Osherson from the University of California Los Angeles, University of Sheffield, and Princeton University.

If you need to go back and read that statement again because you use colons and parentheses more often than you say the equivalent of “I agree,” or “just joking,” go ahead.

“This double dissociation argues against the view that language provides the structure of thought across all cognitive domains,” they found.

That’s fancy-speak for “language use makes your brain operate effectively.”

And it’s not just that lazy language usage induces a cycle of even lazier language use, though that is certainly the case.

This particular study was focused on the cognitive functions of the brain to use arithmetic and algebra based on stimuli of properly structured and worded phrases.

In the test, 64 grammatically correct arguments were presented to the subjects while their brain was being scanned for cognitive functions and six ungrammatical arguments were interspersed within the trials.

Algebraic expressions such as 2 x (5-3) were then mentally constructed from “syntactic routines” underlying the interpretation of grammatically correct (or incorrect) sentences, such as “The man saw the boy who kicked the ball.”

I’m not going to get into all the data analyses structures and what kind of software they were using, but sufficed to say, people’s brains work better (even algebraically) when stimulated with grammatically correct statements.

So I will challenge you this, Thompson Rivers University students, faculty and staff: The next time you are going to end a sentence with a sideways smiley face, or type “lol” when you think something is funny, think about what the message is that you’re trying to get across and use a sentence.

Use a proper, grammatically correct sentence. Not a fragment, either. (See what I did there?)

You might find that not only is the act of taking the time to put down in words what you actually mean more satisfying than relegating your feelings into a symbol — knowing that there is no misunderstanding of what you mean because you thought it through and expressed it precisely — but the stimulation you have given your brain just by forcing it to respond differently than it usually would spurs it to bigger and better things.

And hey, according to this study, it might even make you better at math.

editor@truomega.ca

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