English majors don’t get much respect.
I knew that when I first wrote ‘English’ as my area of interest on those college info cards so long ago. I even crack a few self-conscious jokes to avoid someone else making fun of me. “I’m studying English in college,” I say, “or something else useless. I’ve already picked out my spot in McDonalds.”
These days, the creme de la creme (forgive me; this computer doesn’t have accents enabled) flock to engineering and pharmaceuticals. Liberal arts are considered useless, fit only for lifelong scholars.
English majors, I say we shouldn’t take this lying down.
We live in a world where communication can take place in the blink of an eye or the click of a cursor. Our words can be circulated across the globe. Writing in the form of newspapers, broadcasts, blogs, tweets, and more keep us informed on what’s going on in distant countries or our own town halls. Language is the machinery that makes our world go.
So why is English – the study of the language most of our country speaks – thrown to the wayside? It’s just as important as biology or mathematics. More, even. I’d like to see anyone complete a major in engineering without ever using the written word. All American college courses are based on the English language.
These days, miscommunications can lead to anything from embarrassment to losing a job. Politicians and journalists manipulate phrasing and facts to sway us to their point of view. A deep understanding of language and the ability to analyze it is priceless. You can’t succeed without it.
So hold your heads up high, English majors. The pen is still mightier than the sword. We’re learning to wield the greatest weapon humans possess.