PSA: Intelligence is not measured by the English language

Kind of wild this even needs to be said. But alas, here I am, staring at a comment on a writers forum. A comment meant as an insult, but only serves to reveal the deep-rooted ignorance of the poster. It’s not just them, though. It’s a mindset many share.

It’s this idea that people who speak “broken English” are stupid or in some way unprofessional or “less than” others.

This kills me. This idea makes my soul wither at society.

I could write this post in some vague, general manner. But I’m not going to. Because I think these issues need to be face head on. So let me begin with some context, for those who don’t know me outside of my writing or my blog.

I provide a variety of services to authors to help them with their success. I’ve helped many become USA Today Bestsellers. I’ve helped a few find literary agency representation and land publishing deals. Others, I’ve simply helped improve their audience reach so that they can actually make a living at a job they love but that doesn’t usually pay very well. In fact, I’ve spent so much time doing this, my writing has suffered because of it. Only so many hours in the day and all.

Recently, I’ve gotten to the point where I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to hire some personal assistants. Two of them are from the U.S. and one of them lives overseas. After corresponding with one of the girls from the states, an author sent me this message:

“The reply was poorly written with spelling and grammatical errors, as if it was composed by some “personal assistant” in a third world country. Thanks, but it was enough to make me stay far away from your services.”

There is so much that goes wrong in just a single sentence there, that it’s hard to even know where to begin. But first, I address the second sentence: I don’t want to do business with someone who says things such as what is written in that first sentence. So please, by all means, stay away from my services, because you couldn’t pay me enough to knowingly help someone who thinks or speaks as this author has.

I could dismantle this author’s comments so many ways. Such as that even people in the U.S. can have poor spelling and grammar skills. Or that many people in third world countries don’t have computers or internet access, and if they did, could we maybe commend them for working hard to improve their lives, rather than bashing their grammar and spelling? Or that I just so happen to know many people who speak English as a second language and do it BETTER than many Americans I know.

But the crux of the issues isn’t any of that. The issue is that he thinks that it’s okay to throw “third world country” around like an insult.

First of all, not all countries that are classified as third world countries are poor or lacking in education. Many are industrialized countries. While many do use the term to mean poor, even if that is what he meant, it is still not an insult. It’s not shameful to be poor. Where you are born is not something to be ashamed of.

Second, speaking English as a second language is FREAKING IMPRESSIVE. Most Americans that I know personally can’t speak a second language. Of those who can, it’s likely if they spoke to a native speaker of that language, their grammar wouldn’t be so hot, either. Can’t we just celebrate when people learn our language so that they can communicate with us? This language elitism is ridiculous. There are are over 6,000 beautiful languages in this world! If someone speaks yours, be grateful for the ability to communicate with them!

Finally, there seems to be pervasive idea in America that an inability to speak English “properly” means you aren’t intelligent. What’s more, I bet for many it’s subconscious. When faced with the logic, most people can agree with it: namely that there are some brilliant minds all over this world, and not all of those people speak English as a first language. Many don’t speak english at all. Guess what? They’re still intelligent.

In fact, I would bet the majority speak another language. Not because those who speak English as  first language aren’t intelligent, but because, numbers-wise, less than 10% of the world speaks English as a first language. And that number is actually declining. Which means that 90% of the world is having their brilliant ideas in another language. And if they do share those ideas in English, their English grammar might not be the best, but that doesn’t make their ideas any less.

Heck, some of the greatest minds in this world think in pictures.

I’ve spoken to people from all over the world. Sometimes, the language barrier does make it difficult. We use translation services if neither of us speak a language the other understands. At no point have they treated me as if I’m stupid if my language doesn’t come across great, and at no point have I thought for even a moment these people are less intelligent than I am just because they don’t speak my language or don’t speak it well.

Speaking English well is not a measure of intelligence.

Anyway, I’m almost ready to step off my soap box now. But if there’s anyone out there reading this who thinks that person “sounds stupid” because they don’t speak “proper” English (whatever that is…), I challenge you to stop listening to their words and start listening to their IDEAS. You never know, they may just be smarter than you…

To all the people out there who speak English as a second language: You are AMAZING. You are brilliant! I am in awe of you. I have tried, and failed, many times to learn one of the other many beautiful languages in this world. But you didn’t just try–you succeeded. Heck, some of you speak English better than I do! That impresses the hell out of me. Please keep sharing your ideas with the world in any language you so choose. We need you.

To recap:

  • Speaking english poorly doesn’t mean you are from a third world country.
  • Telling someone they “sound like” they are a third world country is not an insult, but it’s offensive that anyone thinks it would be.
  • Being from a third world country doesn’t “sound like” anything. It sounds different for everyone.
  • Some of the most intelligent ideas come from people who don’t speak english at all or who speak broken english.
  • If you attempt to insult someone based on where you think they are from…or to assume where they are from based on their english grammar…or to assume they are from a “third world country” because their english grammar isn’t good…then you, sir, are an asshat. You might not have realized that before, but now you do. So here’s your chance to stop being one. You’re welcome.
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L.B. Gilbert & Lucy Leroux – Exclusive Excerpt, Free Book, & $50 #Giveaway – #amreading #PNR


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Isobel Sterling is a governess with many secrets—including an uncanny ability she’s been hiding her whole life, until the day arrives when she has to use it to save herself from a madman. But first she has to master it. Fast.

Governess Isobel Sterling feels fortunate to have found a safe haven in the Montgomery household. The children are kind and the lord and lady of the house leave her alone. Just when her life seems as good as it can get, mysterious visitors arrive from abroad.

At first Isobel is flattered by the single-minded attention she receives from their handsome young guest, Matteo Garibaldi. But when girls in the village go missing, Isobel has a terrible suspicion the disappearances are linked to the darkness she can see growing behind Matteo’s eyes. Filled with dread, she tries to avoid his company—until she is locked in with him for the night.

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Invested with the powers of Mother Nature, four women have been charged with the almost impossible task of maintaining order in the supernatural world and—when the crimes are extreme—the human world as well.

Diana, a fire Elemental, is almost burned out. Alone in the world (save for her Elemental sisters), she takes satisfaction in punishing those who’ve strayed so far into the black they’ve disrupted the balance. But her contentment is increasingly short-lived as she struggles with the limitations of her ability. An Elemental can track murderers to the ends of the earth, but not before it’s too late for their victims.

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Diana had Daniel drive them to the safe house so she could change. She was no longer concerned with Alec knowing the location. After pulling on clean cargo pants, she joined him in the living room to search for her boots while he wandered around, checking out the various knick-knacks and weapons displayed. He’d already been through all the swords and crossbows in the gym and had even tested one of the maces.

He was fingering a fourteenth century Japanese Koto when she finally found her left boot.

He turned to her, shock lining his features. “This is from the Kamakura period. It’s spectacular. And priceless in certain circles.”

“Yeah, I know,” Diana said with genuine nonchalance, bending down to tie her shoelace.

“But this thing is not only for display. You. . .you’ve been using it.”

“It’s a weapon,” she said dryly. “It’s common for a soldier to train with a variety of them.”

Alec stared, mouth slightly open. “It’s worth thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands of dollars. I can’t believe you practice with this as if it’s any old sword,” he said, taking it in hand and turning to display it to her, as though he was trying to make her see it clearly.

Suppressing a smile, Diana took the sword from him and put it back in its holder. “All of the weapons you see here are used. We train with them throughout our lives. We have to be ready to use whatever comes to hand. It all depends on the situation. We hone our skills with these as well as our Elemental abilities. Sometimes it’s better not to have to start a fire.”

“But this sword,” he said pointing, “it’s meant to be used from horseback.”

“I know that,” Diana said with a laugh.

“You’ve trained with it on horseback?”

“Well, actually, I used my bike most of the time.” She turned to grab her jacket. “Horses don’t like fire.”

“And the other times?”

She paused. “Well, you remember the lion?”

Alec stopped short. “You can ride your element like a. . .a. . .”

“Yes,” she said pointedly, cutting him off before the mental imagery became too colorful. “I left a message for the girls while I was changing. They will look into Brenda’s whereabouts if she left a trail. If she’s dead, the Mother will know.”

“And She’ll tell you that? Speak to you directly?”

Diana looked up at him and decided to be honest. He was a sensitive. He might be capable of sensing it anyway, but might not know how to put it into words.

“Maybe, and maybe not in a timely fashion. She’s. . .grown quieter in the last decades. Especially where humans are concerned. Earth will try to commune with her since the rest of us haven’t had much luck at it. The Earth Elemental is closest to her by design.”

“Is that normal? For Her to be quieter sometimes?”

“There have been periods when She has fallen silent,” she admitted. “Those were bad times for everyone, Supes and humans alike. As for now, She hasn’t withdrawn yet. She’s just slow to respond. A strong sensitive might be affected—have a sense that something is not right. There are probably some worried witches out there right now.”

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A young witch, Callie, returns home from exile after a traumatic Ouija board incident six years earlier. She falls for classmate James MacLauren and struggles to keep her magical abilities a secret from him. Then there’s the even trickier problem that her rogue warlock father and his coven will kill anyone who prevents Callie from joining them in dark magic. Someone like James . . .

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She thought she was a witch…she’s more

Skye’s a young witch who sucks at spells and works at a metaphysical store, The Green Fairy. Strange things are happening there at night: black specks of movement out of the corner of her eye, mysterious buzzing noises, unidentified dragonfly-like carcasses in the basement, and a hidden cache of absinthe (aka fairy crack).

Kheelan is a human changeling. Raised with the fairies, he’s viewed as an inferior species whose only use is to serve his kidnappers. He’s been totally screwed by the Fae and his only goal in life is freedom. When he meets Skye, he sees an opportunity to escape. The last thing he needs is to be distracted by feelings for this quirky witch.

As Samhain, the witch’s Halloween, draws near she must make a bold move to claim her heritage and power, restore order in the fairy realm, and try to win Kheelan’s freedom and love. Absinthe, autism and augury meld into a paranormal cauldron where fairies are sly tricksters waiting to trap you in their Realm.

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“You have to go back, Callie. You’re in real danger.”

Go back. Danger. For two days the words haunted her. Now she was on the road, the rhythmic sound of the tires on the highway putting her into a trance. Danger, danger, danger. The minute Aunt Mallory opened the letter with an Alabama postmark, everything changed.

She didn’t want to go back. Of all the nerve. She’d been exiled in New Jersey for seven years, and now Mom and Grandma Jo decided she must return at once.

Callie hit the gas pedal. The angrier she got, the faster she drove. What should have been a fourteen-hour drive due south, she’d cut to a mere ten hours. She’d never traveled so far on her own, and convincing Aunt Mallory to let her do it wasn’t easy. Especially since her old Volkswagen convertible, the ‘Dixie doodlebug,’ had over 150,000 miles.

Her heart skipped at the road sign, ‘Welcome to Alabama. The State of Surprises.’ No shit, Sherlock. Not even a mile away was another green and white sign proclaiming ‘Entering Central Time Zone.’ More like the twilight zone.

Callie’s tension eased a bit as she neared Piedmont, the small town bordering Georgia and surrounded by the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. In the gathering dusk, the rolling hills had a magical, ancient vibe. Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad here. It’s not like she had a choice anyway. Aunt Mallory made that clear. Mom and Grandma Jo had convinced her aunt she needed to come home where the coven could help protect her.

Callie rubbed her sore face. She’d clenched her jaw so long her temples throbbed. She consciously relaxed her facial muscles and rolled her shoulders. Much better.

The cell phone rang. Aunt Mallory again.

Callie smiled. “What? Are you going to call me every hundred miles?

“Smart aleck. Where are you now?”

“I’m about to enter the huge metropolis of Piedmont. According to its sign, the name literally means; ‘the foot of the mountain.’ Population: 4,964.”

“Great.” Aunt Mallory let out a whoosh. “I’ve been so worried about you falling asleep at the wheel. I still think you should have spent the night somewhere along the way. You remember how to get to Mama’s house?”

“Pretty much. The GPS can help me navigate the back roads if I get lost.”

“Call me if it doesn’t recognize the dirt roads.”

Callie rolled her eyes. “I know, I know.”

Aunt Mallory sighed. “Glad you’re almost there. Tell Mama and Ginnie I said ‘hey’ and call me when you arrive.”

Callie couldn’t speak around her tight throat. I’m really going to see them again. Silence haunted the air.

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