New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, refashioning himself as Professor Henry Higgins from Pygmalion and My Fair Lady, has spoken: good grammar is the key to success. Bloomberg’s remarks on a radio show barely preceded a report that delineated the poor performance by New York City students on state exams. Bloomberg said:
I’ve said this a thousand times, if you don’t speak good grammar – English with good grammar – you’re not going to get the kinds of jobs that you want … you can make an argument that it shouldn’t be the case, it’s not fair, whatever, people judge each other by how well-spoken they are. If there’s a lot of jargon, double negatives, and things like that, they hurt your career prospects …that’s one of the reasons it’s so important to keep improving our schools, and give the kids the tools they need, one of which is good command of the English language …like in My Fair Lady, we do judge each other based on how well we speak …People think its cute to jive, and it may be for entertainment, but ya just still have to have great command of the English language.
It’s difficult to resist parsing Bloomberg’s remarks for egregious grammatical errors; the temptation is too great.
- Gratuitous use of “whatever.”
- “If there’s a lot of…” should be “If there are.”
- “Like” in My Fair Lady should be “as.”
Bloomberg is correct that good grammar is a vital weapon in one’s arsenal when looking for many different kinds of jobs, but before he pontificates on such a subject, he might want to consult a grammarian.