Thursday, June 13, 2013

"I was never good in English.”

So said Andrew Shaw after he let slip with a profanity on live television.
It was a great shot, a great setup … [Bleeping] … It was unbelievable. All the guys, we deserved it.
How could he help himself? He scored the tie-breaking goal in a thriller of a hockey game—triple overtime in the finals. I don't know about you, but I'd be a little emotional and prone to let something slip too. In an interview a little later he was asked about what he said.
Slip of the tongue. I couldn’t think at all, actually. Could barely breathe. I think I made up a word in there, too, actually.
All of that is completely understandable. It happens to us all, but then he said something else.
I was never good in English.
As far as I can tell, Shaw is a native English speaker, so there's no reason he shouldn't be good at English. Nor is there anything particularly unusual about the comment. I've heard similar sentiments often enough. Setting aside written English, I wonder how many people feel that way about themselves? It's no wonder they do. You can find a powerpoint about this topic here (it gets specific to English on page 19 and the meat of the matter on page 28).

My point is this: as a native speaker, your language use is fine. Your tongue may slip on occasion. But on the whole, you're fine. And if it isn't? Then we better let the cardinals in Maine know about how poorly they sing their song. They don't sing it the same as cardinals in Illinois, where cardinals are the state bird and would know the official song.

Edit to add: As a Chicagoan, I feel I should say something like, "Go 'Hawks!" So, here it is. Go 'Hawks!

All of Shaw's quotes are taken from this Yahoo Sports article.