Luther College Chips

Grammar is not the sole component of the English major

Lily Kime, A&E Editor

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Along with many of my co-workers here at Chips, I am an English major. I declared my major in the spring of my first year at Luther. The overall response from those that knew me well was that studying English was perfect for me. The English department welcomed me with open arms. I have had the good fortune of meeting some of the most brilliant and thoughtful people.

Unfortunately, I have personally experienced some unpleasant side effects related to being an English major, and I am sure many of my peers have experienced similar situations. There are two primary irritations that English majors face frequently.

The first one is that the entire world seems to have silently agreed that it is just too funny to insist that an English major has no job prospects unless they are going to be teachers. For those that know me, yeah, I do have a minor in education because it is what I want to do with my life. But for my fellow English majors that do not have education minors, I would like to point out how mind-bogglingly stupid this idea is.

Have you read a book recently? Or watched a scripted television series? What are you holding right now? All of these things rely on crowds of people who are well-versed in the mechanics and nuances of the English language.

There are an unlimited number of career paths that an English major can pursue, especially one attending a liberal arts institution. Stop making English majors the target of your jokes and wise up to the fact that we pretty much run the world.

Although being a punchline of jokes is annoying, the more unpleasant effect of being an English major is the fact that my peers, specifically those that are not English majors, are constantly scrutinizing my grammar and vocabulary. It is like having a target on your back at all times. Even if I got three hours of sleep, my plant just died, and my face was smashed into a slammed door, I apparently better be able to clean up those dangling prepositions as I explain why my nose is pouring blood.

Unlike most other majors, English majors constantly use our majors. Whenever we speak or write, we are expected to be perfect because we are English majors. And whenever we get something wrong, our peers seem practically giddy at the chance to correct us.

Constantly feeling as though you need to be flawless with your grammar is stressful in an unnecessary way. Personally, I am most often corrected by people I would consider friends. After being viciously corrected a multitude of times, I do not really want to talk to you anymore.

Being an English major is not about being able to flawlessly use proper English — aka Standard American English — while speaking. The best part about this is that nobody speaks Standard American English anyway because we all have individual accents.

Being an English major is not about having perfect grammar all of the time. Being an English major is about having a question, considering it for a while, and then asking your peers what they think about it.

Being an English major is about reading texts that make your eyes and brain hurt one day and then the next they open a new world. Being an English major is about finding the connections between authors, works, and times and trying to figure out how they still affect us today. And sometimes being an English major means correcting people who think that Frankenstein is the Creature’s name.

Instead of correcting an English major when they mix up “who” and “whom,” take a breath to calm your shaken nerves and ask about something cool they are working on in a class. English majors are not just sitting in classrooms practicing grammar, so stop making that the focus of our major.

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