“Hi, how are you today?” Before answering, let’s direct our attention for a moment to a matter that is all too often unaddressed, and as a result, left free to spread like rumors after prom night. A type of neglect and abuse that affects millions of U.S. citizens and the numbers are growing increasingly bleak. The atrocity of which people speak that continues to go unhindered is the misuse and abuse of the English language.
This issue pales in comparison to the genocide in the Sudan, and the nuclear proliferation race in the Middle East and Southeast Asia, however, there are some who would suggest that the findings from the U.S. census bureau that cites 12 percent of Americans (approx. 42 million) are illiterate deserves some attention.
Unfortunately, much like the effect of the “No Child Left Behind Act”, one cannot wave a magic wand over a news column and instantaneously solve the reading problems of America.
What can be done? Students should take the time to further themselves and possibly careers, and go over a seemingly insignificant grammatical faux pas that can potentially have an immense impact, especially during a job interview.
Chalk it up to manners, apathy, or good old fashioned American rebelliousness, but as a society has more or less adopted the mentality that if a line of communication is understandable, verbal or otherwise, then it is acceptable and not worth correcting.
The phrase “Where you at?” is inquiring about location and receiving the cold-shoulder silent-treatment combo means someone is sleeping on the couch tonight.
“One cannot not communicate” is a mantra embraced by those in the field of communication studies. It is a premise that essentially reinforces the idea that people exist as cognitive beings and as such, we are constantly inundated with external stimuli and messages verbal and nonverbal from encoders, the source of the message, and vice versa. The messages are broken down, or decoded, by a recipient and as a result, meaning is interpreted.
Believe it or not, one’s command and execution of language speaks volumes about an individual. Take the two most recent U.S. Presidents for example. Both have opened themselves up to ridicule when giving unrehearsed, impromptu addresses. One has been characterized as a simpleton-southerner by the public, and the other, a snobby-senator. In both cases though, the color of their speech painted them as one type of person or another on that particular occasion.
The same goes for hopeful job candidates thumbing through copies of their résumés and portfolios as they eagerly await their turn in the hot seat to woo the interview panel. Making a favorable first impression is paramount when interviewing for a desired position.
The interview officially begins the moment one’s foot crosses the threshold into the room where the interview is to be conducted and is signaled with a simple salutation, “Hi, how are you today?” It’s a casual greeting that is usually met with the reply, “I’m good.” Sometimes the words can leave one’s mouths before one has a chance to think about what one is really saying. The usual pomp and circumstance ensues as handshakes are exchanged and the interview proceeds as would any other but there is a lingering question that remains to be answered: is “good” good enough? It may be more of an existential issue than previously thought of, but to avoid any unnecessary brain scrambling, the difference between “good” and “well” can be broken down to their parts of speech and what they reflect when used in a sentence.
According to the eleventh edition of The Concise Oxford English Dictionary, “good” is defined as an adjective that means “having the required qualities; of a high standard.” This definition often thought of in terms of skill as in “Jen is good at geoduck (pronounced gooey-duck) guzzling.” Adjectives describe nouns: Jen is skilled at putting down those suspiciously obscene looking mollusks.
“Well,” from the same publication, listed as an adverb referring to a condition of “prosperity or comfort” and again as an adjective with regard to being in good health or a state of “satisfaction” (i.e. “I am feeling well”). In this case, the verb in question is the act of existence, as in “to be.” Even as an adjective, when the question, presented as “How are you?”; “well” is meant to describe how one is feeling at that particular moment.
Semantics, schemantics right? Maybe. It is a very reasonable notion to think that language is more an evolving entity; fluid in it is flexible meanings, than a sedentary concrete object. Slang and colloquialisms are what give words a breath of life and display the variety of local color that exists across our nation. On the other hand, sometimes it is best to ere on the side of caution and go with a reply the occasion calls for especially in a formal setting such as a job interview.
If the time comes to volley back an answer to the first question of an interview and there is a sense of reservation when it comes to using “good” or “well,” why not just look back, smile, and say, “Fantastic!” Why not when getting an interview.
D. J. Baker is a West Chester Universtiy student. He can be reached at DB699965@wcupa.edu.