Beauty of the English Language

Beauty of the English Language

I’m a Lover of the English Language. I Love it because of all of its quirks, idiosyncrasies, and eccentricities.

When I was in college The Elements of Style by Strunk & White, plus The Little, Brown Handbook were my best friends. Now the dictionary is my best friend. I’m constantly looking up the proper spelling and definition of words. Yes, when I write I’m constantly editing my work for spelling, punctuation and grammar. The only time I let certain things slip is when I want to create an effect within my poems. With poetry I can be flexible.

The grammar and punctuation lessons from my online writers group excite me. That’s because the English language is dynamic and mercurial. It’s a composite of Latin roots and American English has incorporated words from every ethnic group to settle these shores in addition to words from our Native American sisters and brothers. English has an ebb and flow like the Oceans and opens its arms to embrace and adopt new words that keep it a living language.

I receive thrills and chills when I read Shakespeare or the King James Version of the Bible. For me the KJV has a beauty, flow, cadence and rhythm that the NIV or the Amplified will never have. The scriptures just sound better they way there were written in 1611. Shakespeare. What can I say about him? For me he is the master. The dialogue and soliloquies from Hamlet just trip off my tongue. Out of all his plays Hamlet is my all time favorite.

My parents especially my father Edward Palmer always demanded that I speak proper English both inside and outside our home. Reading was heavily encouraged in my home and my parents regularly purchased books, children’s magazines and had me reading the New York Times at an early age. This was great when I was around my family, however growing up and even as an adult I was accused of “talking white” by my fellow African-Americans! I learned to ignore these gibes especially as I got older and saw the benefits of being articulate. My young cousins know that Cousin DeBorah will correct their speech and their homework if I hear or see them brutalizing the language. I cringe when I walk down Jamaica Avenue, Guy Brewer or Baisley boulevards and I hear young people misusing English. I’m not speaking of slang because every generation had that. Also every ethnic group has its own little axioms or gems of wisdom for getting their point across, I mean when I hear young people use “axe” for ask. Are they about to kill someone? Maybe.

I fully recognize usage of regional slave speech by Paul Laurence Dunbar and dialects such patois, the Creole of the Gullah/geechee people of South Carolina and Georgia. Dialects have their place as they serve to unify regions and social groups. My beloved late Mom was from Dayton, Ohio and until I entered elementary school I never realized that some of the words she used were Midwestern slang and not necessarily acceptable outside of our home. I did find something very interesting when I traveled to Kingston, Jamaica in the late 80s early 90s. Some of the words I heard my mother use every day at home were also being used in Jamaica. Just a different accent.

However dialects and slang not withstanding there is no excuse for poor English usage written or spoken by native-born Americans. Ebonics and/or Black English do not exist for me. I might resort to the vernacular in the “hood” but when I’m out within the greater society proper English is not only essential it’s mandatory.

Of course, my English is not perfect. In fact I’m always a work in progress which is the main reason my desk is a mess. I always need many reference books at hand to complete just one page of work! One day maybe all the various rules and regulations that govern English will just come to mind automatically instead of my always having to look things up. Pray for me y’all!! LOL!!


Last year I was part of an English Language association called Society for the Preservation of English Language and Literature. Their motto is “Binding Together Lovers of Our Language”. If anyone is interested in joining the address is:

Post Office Box 321

Braselton, GA 30517



 The newsletter SPELL/Binder features many articles on Punctuation and Grammar, Pet Peeves, plus Novelists No-Nos, as well as articles on how the mother tongue is being murdered via the media. It is a very interesting publication.


African/Native American Queen 

I feel you Brown girls.  I just wanted to say to my Brown Skin/Dark Skin Sisters that I had many issues and insecurities concerning my skin color when I was younger. 

Especially coming up and going to school during the 1960s, Black was not Beautiful. It still took some convincing even after James Brown declared “Say It Loud, I’m Black and I’m Proud”. I can’t tell you how many times I was called “Tar Baby” and various other insulting names by the other Black kids on the playground and in the neighborhood.
I used to go home to my Daddy crying. Daddy used to tell me, Deborah, “The Blacker the Berry the Sweeter the Juice, if the Berry’s too light it has no use”. My Dad was dark skinned like me and he soothed me as well as instilling self-esteem and pride within his daughter.
Well the 1970s came along. Soul Train, Watu Wasuri use Afro Sheen.
Black Power. Famous Black Models gracing the covers of fashion magazines such as Vogue.
Props to Beautiful Brown Skinned SisterGirls:

  • Grace Jones
  • Bethann Hardison
  •  Beverly Peele
  •  Naomi Sims
    Toukie Smith
    Roshumba Williams

 My current favorite: Alek Wek
Essence magazine came into being.
Suddenly it was a good thing to be Dark Skinned. My Dad and I wore our Afros proudly.
Ethnic looks, fashion, the flavor of the month. All Cyclical. Especially in America a nation caught up in the youth craze. America, a nation that equates youth with beauty. America, whose standards of beauty change with each passing fad.
Now that I’m middle-aged I thank God for this dark brown skin. Why   because many of the white women want to know what I do to look the way I do. As soon as they hit their late 30s, 40s the wrinkles and lines appear. Why do you think those anti-aging creams and formulas are so popular? Botox. Restylne. 

 Those things are not being marketed to us. For the most part we don’t need it. I’ll be 51 on Feb 27th, look 41, if I colored my hair could pass for 35. 

 This dark brown skin I used to curse; now I celebrate every day when I look in the mirror.
My baby cousin Veronica, age 15 showcases the beauty of African, Hispanic and Native American in one gorgeous package. Yes she has the light skin coupled with the shoulder length hair. 

 Years ago I would have been jealous of someone like her. But many years have passed and I’ve been her caretaker off and on since she was two so Veronica is my defacto daughter.
When I see Veronica I feel love and joy, not because she’s light skinned and pretty. Roni just has a different type of beauty than mine. My family has mixed heritage from many branches. If you saw all of us together, you’d see a living human rainbow bound by blood. Even though we are on two shades of the skin color spectrum when my friends, neighbors and co-workers see us together they assume that’s my daughter. As far as I’m concerned Veronica is my Daughter. One of my goals is that when Roni is around me to teach her not to capitalize on her looks. Not to manipulate men or people in general. 

 I want Veronica to get her education. I envision her receiving a BA,
then a MA in whatever discipline she chooses. Leave the boys alone. They’re no good anyway. She is a girly-girl. Loves the latest looks but young women dark and light skinned need to get wisdom, knowledge and understanding in their heads.
I still get plenty of attention from men. All men Black, white even some from the Middle-East. Some unwanted but that’s another story.
As for my current love interest, whom I’ll nickname the Bouncing Bulgarian. He likes this dark-skinned woman. Very much.
So, Thank you to both my African and Native American Ancestors for dark brown skin, high cheekbones and Nappy/Kinky hair. I am the best of all worlds.