Respect a language and it will respect you

This title may not make sense, but it was something I said shortly after I began learning English. What I meant by it was that if I wrote English without grammatical mistakes, intentional misspellings, and especially contractions commonly used in chat and SMS, it would improve my English and prevent me from making unintentional errors in the future.

If habits are difficult to break, why not avoid them when possible?

I started teaching myself English when I was around 17 years old after discovering the internet. I was fascinated by how easy it was to connect with people from different parts of the world. I wanted to have deep conversations with individuals and groups to enrich my limited knowledge of the world, its people, and different cultures.

What's worse than an ignorant person is one who doesn't seek to learn and understand.

If reading a book is similar to traveling and having an adventure, then the internet is even closer to that experience. The biggest difference is the ability to interact with people directly and learn their perspectives.

The internet motivated me to learn English, which wasn't a dream or goal for me at the time, but a means to the end of effective communication. English then opened the doors for me to start exploring things that I might not have otherwise. I learned how to program computers and started freelancing. Years later, I moved to the United States where I found it easy to assimilate, interact with people, and make friends. Currently, as a software engineer, my job is less challenging because I am comfortable communicating and documenting my work.

However you choose to define “correct grammar”, my understanding of it today is different then it was years ago. I’d say the purpose of languages is Communication; encoding a thought and transmitting it to a person or a group. By that definition, if my message was decoded successfully then the language has fulfilled its function and it does not matter if I rolled the R like some Americans, skipped the T like some English or emphasized it like others, pronounced R as /ʁ/ like the French, found it impossible to pronounce P like some Arabs or said Out and About in the cutest way possible like some Canadians. They’re all beautiful and unique in their own way.

That transition from how I think of languages also applies to my professional life and how I see code. A language imposes a set of idioms for us to follow and certain practices that we discuss, maybe agree upon and refer to as best practices. We write code for the machine to run, and for a human to read and maintain. The end goal is performance and maintainability.

In conclusion, regardless of how my understanding changed I cannot help but attribute some of my success to the decision I made to respect the language.