‘Reading Is To The Mind What Exercise Is To The Body’



In a letter bearing the inscrutable heading: “Votes against school override; YMCA we an aberration,” (Nov. 18 Roundup) the writer stated: “The votes against the school override and the YMCA were an aberration and cast our town as being anti-youth and against progress.”

The Longman Dictionary of American English defines “aberration” as: “a situation or action that is different from what you expect or what is normal,” and Roget’s Super Thesaurus gives as synonyms for “aberration” the words “deviation,” “abnormality,” “irregularity,” “quirk,” “freak,” nonconformity,” “departure,” “oddity,” “anomaly,” “peculiarity,” “eccentricity” and “oddball.”

Perhaps the letter writer meant “abomination” instead of “aberration”; otherwise, he is apparently saying that the votes against the override and the YMCA were a freakish departure from Payson’s otherwise completely positive attitude toward youth and progress.

And perhaps the editor meant to write the headline: “Votes against school override, YMCA were an aberration.”

My letter is not meant to take any position on the issues cited. As co-founder (with my husband) and half of the membership (he’s the other half) of an informal, hopelessly politically incorrect organization we dubbed the “See Error Club,” it’s merely my attempt to gently call attention to how vital using correct words, sentence construction and punctuation are for us human beings to accurately express our thoughts and feelings, and to clearly communicate with and understand each other. Of course, one of the best ways to learn to do this is by reading.

I recently read about a poll revealing that almost three-quarters of incoming college freshmen said they had never read a book for pleasure. I have also read that many employers now have to provide remedial reading and writing courses for employees they hire straight out of both high school and college.

“A survey of 120 major American corporations affiliated with Business Roundtable, employing nearly 8 million people, concludes that in today’s workplace, writing is a “threshold skill” for hiring and promotion among salaried (i.e., professional) employees. Survey results indicate that writing is a ticket to professional opportunity, while poorly written job applications are a figurative kiss of death. Estimates based on the survey returns reveal that employers spend billions annually correcting writing deficiencies.” (Source: “Writing - a Ticket to Work...or a Ticket Out - A Survey of Business Leaders.” http://www.writingcommission.org/prod_downloads/writingcom/writing-ticket-to-work.pdf)

I hope I can encourage everyone reading this letter to remember, and to spread the word: “Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body.” (Richard Steele, 1672-1729)

Tina Terry


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