To think that grammar/spelling standards are not what they were?

(319 Posts)
Meandmarius Fri 22-Mar-13 09:29:34

I'm mid 30's and have noticed that most of my friends/peers are able to distinguish between 'your and you're', 'where, were, we're' and using the words 'have' and 'of' correctly.
I've noticed that in younger generations there just doesn't seem to be the same standard anymore and I wonder why that is.
Not saying for one minute that my own sp. and grammar is perfect - it isn't. I just wonder if there is as much emphasis on it nowadays as there was back in the day..

Helltotheno Fri 22-Mar-13 09:45:39

YANBU. But it's in line with a general 'dumbing down' of language due to social media, txt spk etc. It isn't just happening in English.

It behoves those of us with standards to keep slagging off gently pointing out to people the error of their ways (their/there, you're/your, were/where, could have/could of etc.).

mrsjay Fri 22-Mar-13 09:48:56

I think texting is to blame tbh I agree with hell, your there and were is primary school spelling I know people can find it difficult but if you know the difference please use it, smile but in the grand scheme of things it doesn't matter my spelling and grammar is shocking most of the time,

GrowSomeCress Fri 22-Mar-13 09:49:38

YANBU at all.

It's dumbing down and people can deny it all they want but it's happening.

GrowSomeCress Fri 22-Mar-13 09:50:27

I don't think it's to do with texting - I think it's because a lot of people don't read anymore because it's seen as 'sad'

mrsjay Fri 22-Mar-13 09:55:51

I always read and my grammar isn't great I have had it picked apart on here <shrug>

Meandmarius Fri 22-Mar-13 09:58:31

Completely agree, social media has a lot to answer for! I've noticed a lot on FB, there seems to be a real lack of understanding of those examples you mentioned, hell. One of the worst offenders is a cousin of mine in his twenties, a secondary school teacher confused
I'm not being judgemental as I know that some people do find it difficult, it just makes me feel a bit sad for some reason.

Maybe I'm just getting old smile

mrsjay Fri 22-Mar-13 10:03:25

Maybe I'm just getting old

I am as well

mrsjay Fri 22-Mar-13 10:04:01

shocking example of grammar in my last post grin

Meandmarius Fri 22-Mar-13 10:07:39

I was going to mention reading, grow. I remember at primary school, so much emphasis was placed on reading, we had regular books to take home and at weekends my grandparents would take me to a grand old library where we'd leave laden with books. I know a lot of my peers did the same (talking 1990's here).

I do wonder if reading and books are still top of the list at primary schools.

Meandmarius Fri 22-Mar-13 10:09:18

LOL, mrsjay wink

mrsjay Fri 22-Mar-13 10:10:20

LOL, mrsjay

I am Scottish I would say that I tend to type on here as I speak I think a lot of people do maybe that is the problem confused

Fakebook Fri 22-Mar-13 10:15:11

I don't think "texting" is to blame on its own. I think it's also the absence of learning grammar correctly at school. I'm nearly 30 and I don't remember having one lesson in grammar throughout my school years. I learnt about verbs and nouns and correct use of words from an old 1950's book my brother had in his room from which he was taught at school (he is 13 years older than me).

I think the older generation were taught better than us. We were all forgotten in the new national curriculum I think (might be wrong with that, but I remember something changed during the late 80's early 90's)

Helltotheno Fri 22-Mar-13 10:16:58

At least you're aware mrsjay. Reading lots always helps. Some people are not naturally word-oriented. I can relate to that because I'm not numbers-oriented.

In my last job, people used to come to me and ask for help with reports (senior people), wanting me to explain the difference between 'where' and 'were' etc. I was shock because these were all intelligent people and obviously hadn't learned those things. But also, I thought it was great that they'd come and ask rather than have a crappy piece of writing damaging their credibility at work.

As for here? I don't care about mistakes here. People are allowed to express themselves freely in an informal setting. Yes at some deep subconscious level, mistakes hurt my eyes, but an online forum ain't the time or place.

WorraLiberty Fri 22-Mar-13 10:20:00


And I'd be interested to know how many people who claim to be dyslexic actually are?

Very rarely now do you hear anyone say, "God I'm shit at spelling".

It seems to have been replaced by people saying, "I'm dyslexic actually".

I'm not belittling anyone who actually is dyslexic btw, just questioning whether it's become an automatic 'comeback' for a lot of people.

mrsjay Fri 22-Mar-13 10:24:24

Very rarely now do you hear anyone say, "God I'm shit at spelling".

Ahem grin

WorraLiberty Fri 22-Mar-13 10:27:09

Present company accepted mrsjay! blush grin

MsJupiterJones Fri 22-Mar-13 10:28:18

accepted? wink

TroublesomeEx Fri 22-Mar-13 10:29:52

I remember doing it at school (late 30s now) but I did make mistakes at times and they were corrected by my parents/grandma when I did.

I do the same with my children too. I've read some of DS's FB posts (try not to because they drive me mad!) and he is a bit lax with his grammar on there, as are his friends, but I know that he knows how to do it properly.

The thing is, it's not even about spelling is it? It's knowing the rules, knowing what it is you're writing/saying. Knowing the difference between your/their; you're/they're and there.

mrsjay Fri 22-Mar-13 10:33:22

Dyslexia is REALLY difficult to get diagnosed My DD English teacher has tested her and dd doesnt meet the criteria or 'something' for it , DD is dyspraxic though so her spelling is just rubbish

simbo Fri 22-Mar-13 10:33:52

I blame teachers for not correcting children adequately at primary school (stifles their creativity, apparently). Also, parents have to speak correctly at home, otherwise children think "should of" is correct. My children always complain that I use big words, but I really notice the difference between their speech and some of their peers'. This obviously filters down to their writing.

mrsjay Fri 22-Mar-13 10:34:33

The thing is, it's not even about spelling is it? It's knowing the rules, knowing what it is you're writing/saying. Knowing the difference between your/their; you're/they're and there.

^ ^ this you're and your is not the same and kids and adults need to know that

DolomitesDonkey Fri 22-Mar-13 10:38:27

YANBU - and for those who say "it doesn't matter, language evolves". Fine, your choice - just don't come crying when you're not taken seriously in a professional environment.

I am a BINNER of CV's - a destroyer of hope and I'm happy with my decision.

EmmelineGoulden Fri 22-Mar-13 10:42:24

You might be right, but I'm not sure you have enough evidence. I know you're comparing your friends in their 30s to younger people to see the differences, but attitudes change as you get older. I certainly found I was more concerened about written presentation at 30 than I was at 20. So I'm not sure it's true that standards are dropping. It may just be that you're comparing people at different stages of their written language development.

I'm in my 40s, I wasn't formally taught grammar at school. Nevertheless I know the difference between they're/their/there etc. and I do care. Still doesn't stop me making mistakes. However, I find on the whole teenagers I talk to today are more knowledgable about the structure of English than I am. Obviously some aren't, but there are plenty of people I went to school with who were bad at English too.

I think you just see it a lot more writing from people now, younger people who doidn't pick up writing at school as easily and might, if they were older, have engaged in lots of avoidance techniques, will jump into social media despite not being so great at written English because it's more important socially to be able to communicate. So you will see more mistakes than you used to. Also, people spend less time proof reading because the communication is more casual. Until social media came along you probably wouldn't have seen much written communication from people you know socially. Now a lot of what might once only have been spoken is written, and it happens in a fast paced environment. So there isn't the same time for care. I also wonder if there is something about typing compared to writing that makes some of the mistakes more likely.

limitedperiodonly Fri 22-Mar-13 10:43:16

CVs with an apostrophe, eh?

That one's binbound then.

Meandmarius Fri 22-Mar-13 10:52:52

I think MN is a breath of fresh air because the spelling and grammar on here is mostly great. Isn't that the generational thing, though? Most of us must be late 20's upwards and I'm talking of the generations after that, the standards have definitely changed. Not just on social media but in newspaper articles written by younger journalists, mostly tabloids admittedly.

Of course, grammar isn't perfect on here and you don't expect it to be really. it's basically chatting and sometimes you write as you would speak/write a quick reply/post from phone while on the move etc.

I agree it's those other 'rules', there/they're/their etc that seem to be lacking with the younger generation.

TroublesomeEx Fri 22-Mar-13 10:54:25

I don't blame teachers. Teachers don't set the curriculum or makes the rules about what's currently important. It's the government you want to see about that one!

Teacher's do teach it but unless it's reinforced outside of school too, children quite quickly forget and become confused.

People who think it's important generally get it right. People who think it's unimportant generally don't. It's not difficult to get it right if you are sufficiently interested.

I joined an online dating agency recently and, whilst I'm not looking for perfect grammar and sentence construction - I'm looking for a man, not a robot, I instantly dismiss anyone whose spelling/grammar is very poor. And I do make all sorts of judgements about their education/intelligence based on it.

I suspect I'm going to be single for a very long time.... grin

boxershorts Fri 22-Mar-13 10:55:28

Maybe not. I think schools shud concentrate on 3 Rs We have 2 million adults illiterate But we should not be fussy about spelling on Mumsnet

limitedperiodonly Fri 22-Mar-13 10:58:24

I love threads where people pontificate about appalling standards in grammar and spelling in posts sprinkled with errors.

Takver Fri 22-Mar-13 11:00:54

YABU - we run a small business, and have many older customers by the nature of what we do. I would say that (guessing purely by names / handwriting) the older people are MORE likely to send a badly spelt and incorrectly added up order.

My guess is that on the whole they tended to have left school earlier and in an era when there were more manual jobs available, so less emphasis on reading/writing/basic maths.

And if DD's school is anything to go by, there is a huge focus on reading ability that didn't exist when I was at school in the 70s.

TroublesomeEx Fri 22-Mar-13 11:00:58

Argh Teachers not teacher's!

You're right, limited I even proof read my post, just to be sure hopes there aren't any more glaring errors...


Helltotheno Fri 22-Mar-13 11:01:33

That one's binbound then.

Lol.. you live by the sword!!

Its true about CVs though... if someone turns in a heap of shyte as a job application, that speaks to their whole attitude and I know many people in the position of hiring/firing who won't even read to the end of a CV like that. Proper order ime. It costs very little to have something like that checked professionally and well worth every penny.

Meandmarius I agree, the standards on here are generally high for an online forum.

mrsjay Fri 22-Mar-13 11:03:35

see we all do it grin I think we really need to let it go especially on internert forums and what not

limitedperiodonly Fri 22-Mar-13 11:05:31

It's not particularly aimed at you folkgirl grin.

I do a job in which spelling and grammar is very important but it's not the only skill that's required and it would be shortsighted of me to choose everyone purely on the basis of how pretty their English was.

Buzzardbird Fri 22-Mar-13 11:06:58

Would dyslexia make you put an apostrophe in every plural word you use or make you use 'of' instead of 'off'? Or in your opinion is that just being crap at grammar?

limitedperiodonly Fri 22-Mar-13 11:07:09

Alternatively, spelling and grammar are very important grin

Helltotheno Fri 22-Mar-13 11:08:18

Not understanding correct grammar use Buzzard

boxershorts Fri 22-Mar-13 11:10:38

there alway has been different levels of grammar. It goes with CLASSES Read a tabloid and a broadsheet

Takver Fri 22-Mar-13 11:12:13

Another difference from the past: It used to be the norm to employ secretaries, who by the nature of their job would be expected to have good spelling & grammar. These days everyone writes and sends their own letters & emails.

My dm would unquestionably be diagnosed as dyslexic these days and her spelling is atrocious to the point that it makes her writing unintelligible. Back in the 50s she was advised to work hard (grammar school girl) and make sure she got a job where she'd have a secretary.

Takver Fri 22-Mar-13 11:13:30

Agree boxer - absolutely a class difference. Perhaps the change is that everyone these days has to communicate in writing. Going back to my DNan, she had no occasion to write to anyone outside of family, who didn't give a toss if her spelling was a bit random.

Meandmarius Fri 22-Mar-13 11:14:29

I blame teachers for not correcting children adequately at primary school (stifles their creativity, apparently)

Wow, is that a general teaching viewpoint or just in your experience, simbo? Surely it will stifle their creativity more if they're unable to express themselves correctly in written form!

I think it's so important to instill a love of books or reading at a young age, first took my DS to the library at about 6 months dozing in his pram, of course

limitedperiodonly Fri 22-Mar-13 11:19:41

boxershorts amongst older journalists there's no difference in the standard of grammar on broadsheets and tabloids. It is all uniformly high. Standards have slipped now but most skilled subs still know their way around a dictionary.

It's arguably more difficult to write for a tabloid because you're condensing stories for readers who probably have a lower standard of education.

When writing for a broadsheet you can use longer words in longer stories because you assume your readers have a higher comprehension. It's a conceit that's not always true.

StrawColoured Fri 22-Mar-13 11:24:48

I despair at declining standards of grammar/spelling, but I'm late 40's and only remember a couple of lessons on this at school. One lesson we were taught nouns/verbs/adjectives etc., and the next lesson we were taught apostrophes. But on every piece of written work, grammar & spelling errors were marked down.

I think I learned most of my grammar/spelling from reading.

In the workplace, too much reliance is placed on spellcheckers.

And I certainly make assumptions about job applicants' abilities based on the grammar/spelling in their CV.

BreconBeBuggered Fri 22-Mar-13 11:26:52

I'm not at all convinced it's a generational thing. I know teenagers (not even my own) who are picky and pedantic about grammar and spelling, and people my own age who couldn't tell 'their' from 'there' if they read the sentence a hundred times. There's something in the theory that everyone has to communicate in writing, therefore shortcomings are more apparent, and, where common, apt to be unconsciously imitated by others who don't have secure grasp of correct usage. I probably see 'definate' more often than 'definite'

BreconBeBuggered Fri 22-Mar-13 11:28:04

...and I had no idea doing that, whatever it was, would post the message without finishing it off.

Nancy66 Fri 22-Mar-13 11:32:07

I agree with 'definitely' ....9 out of 10 people cannot spell that. Even on MN

GoingGoingGoth Fri 22-Mar-13 11:32:42

Early 40's here, and must admit I can't remember having grammer lessons at school. I alway fond it difficult when studying French, that the teacher would refer to a tense such as 'past participial' and I would have no idea what that would be in English.

I've always read a lot, and I have found that in the last 10 years I now actively investigate the correct way of writing (not always successfully)

TroublesomeEx Fri 22-Mar-13 11:33:56

MeandMarius it can depend on what the learning objective for the lesson is. Not all grammar/spelling errors are correcting every single time because sometimes, the child is being assessed on the content or use of vocabulary, when making them nervous about spelling it incorrectly might inhibit them from using it at all. After all, people on here know how frustrating it is when the content of a post is disregarded because of poor grammar/spelling. It's no different for children.

But a lot of schools will focus on grammar/spelling outside of the standard 'literacy hour' lessons anyway and the children might record the rules or the options in a different book that they are encouraged to use when writing.

simbo Fri 22-Mar-13 11:37:32

Actually, my comment on teachers was based on a quote from a teacher when I challenged her about not correcting my dd's spelling in written work. Admittedly, this was in ks1, but I think that her inability to spell consistently well stems from this. My attempts to gently correct her myself resulted in "it's good enough for my teacher, so why is it not good enough for you?" which made her see me as hyper-critical, rather than helpful.

Oddly I find the worst offenders to be older people. Friends my age (50s) and worst of all my MOTHER use text speak inappropriately. (Not that it's ever appropriate in my opinion).
It makes me squirm. I always use full spellings, apostrophes and grammar when texting and so do my teenage DCs.

I wonder whether it dates back to the early days of mobile phones when the cost of texts was higher with the consequent necessity to use the minimum characters.

Pigsmummy Fri 22-Mar-13 11:41:44

I get a bit annoyed by terrible errors on here, some of it is auto correct on smart phones and tablets, which dictionary they are associated to is anyone's guess! Some of it is sheer ignorance and stops me taking people seriously. Some of it is very amusing "penis gloves" and recent "Eye que" in a post bashing people who go on Jeremy Kyle, where the post couldn't spell Jeremy correct.

I hope that the next generation get the education that addresses this, teaching has meant to have become more sophisticated especially regards use of IT and methods for teaching dyslexics so teach our children how to spell please! Parents reading with children at home is a basic that we can all do to try to help too.

OneLittleToddleTerror Fri 22-Mar-13 11:44:09

It makes me angry seeing fb posts with

no/know, aloud/allowed

And yes, these are from the 20 somethings. I must write like an old fart because I actually try to have correct spelling/grammar in my fb posts.

simbo Fri 22-Mar-13 11:50:44

I have turned off the predictive typing feature on my tablet, as it was completely useless. If we don't rely on our own ability to spell we will surely forget how.

stubbornstains Fri 22-Mar-13 11:51:50

Bad spelling or grammar hurts my brain. I think the use of good spelling and grammar is a matter of consideration, and the willingness to communicate effectively.

Interesting point about the fact that we are increasingly returning to written forms of communication- I have often thought that text messages are the 20th century equivalent of a panting servant arriving with a billet doux.......Hopefully this means that spelling and grammar will eventually improve??

Folkgirl I was on an internet dating site, and specified that only men who knew how to spell should get in touch (which was largely ignored)!

stubbornstains Fri 22-Mar-13 11:54:00

Damn, I made sure to proofread that previous post, seeing as I was pontificating about grammar, and I think I've made a mistake.... blush

limitedperiodonly Fri 22-Mar-13 11:54:52

What was 'penis gloves' meant to be?

caughtinagiggleloop Fri 22-Mar-13 12:03:18

It's not taught properly in schools anymore.

I remember being taught basic grammar at primary school (plurals, apostrophes, the difference between a noun, a verb and an adjective) and then in more detail when I did English Language at A-level. However, most people my age don't know the basics of grammar (I'm in my mid-30s). I don't ever remember having one lesson at secondary school. My mum and dad (who are both shit hot at grammar) asked my English teacher at a parents' evening once and he said "No we don't do that anymore. It's too boring and kids will pick it up by reading." If it's been unpopular to teach it for 20 years or more, it's no wonder standards are slipping.

I don't think it's fair to blame texting and the internet for the decline in language. I send texts in text-speak but I wouldn't send an email at work like that. I have, however, received emails like that at work from young people straight out of school and I think this is because there is nobody teaching them that language changes depending on the context and they need to understand proper grammar rules for a reason.

The whole "should of" thing is because when people speak, they run words into each other so they say "should've" instead of "should have". I remember being told this at primary school so have never written should of because it doesn't make sense. Teachers need to be correcting grammar as soon as children know how to write.

Meandmarius Fri 22-Mar-13 12:04:48

Parents reading with children at home is a basic that we can all do to try to help too.

Couldn't agree more, pigsmummy. There's only so much a school can teach, it needs to be backed up and encouraged at home, too.

As a kid, I remember now and again going to town with my dad for a new book and it was a genuine treat. Weird, really because he wasn't a reader himself at all but I suppose it was his way of encouraging me to read. There was a genuine excitement at the thought of going to the bookstore, picking a new book and going home to read it. Maybe it is just that times are changing, more activities to do, more channels on the television, computers!

ComposHat Fri 22-Mar-13 12:06:03

At the risk of coming over a bit Ken Barlow, I'm always a bit suspect when people claim that there was a golden age when people used perfect grammar and their spelling was faultless.

It certainly wasn't the late Victorian/Edwardian period. I've been looking at some Parliamentary Reports and the spelling and grammar is inconsistent at best and bloody awful in many places.

SecretLindtBunny Fri 22-Mar-13 12:06:25

Yanbu at all.

It isn't even about knowing how to spell, it's about knowing what words to use.

I regularly want to bang my head against a wall when I work with one particular colleague.

Some delights from the past 7 days include

"I've ordered pink Moat for my wedding", to a colleague when she was serving a customer. Customer and colleague laughed, so she came bleating to me
"It is Moat isn't it. The champagne?" To which I corrected her "Moet is the name. Moet et Chandon"

"my brother just totally pampers to my eldest niece, she's so spoilt" instead of panders.

"I'm a great believer in Cava" again to a customer who had been talking about some misfortune or other. I actually had to leave the shop floor to laugh.

"If she doesn't stop nagging, I'll smothercate her" that was yesterday, about our manager.

My tolerance is rapidly being worn away working with her. Her spelling is wild and her handwriting is expansive, shall we say?

And yes, she does say Could of, Would of, etc.

nagynolonger Fri 22-Mar-13 12:17:26

I really shouldn't be posting on here because my spelling and grammar is crap. Dyslexia didn't exist when I was a DC you were just thick. Three of my sons are dyslexic. All the tests done and official. I'm sure lots say they or their DC are dyslexic just because they can't spell.

One mistake I have noticed more recently is people (even clever types on BBC news) don't seem to know when to use the word 'amount' or 'number'.
It's never a large 'amount' of people/cats/house. It's a large 'number' of peoples/cats/houses. If you can count them it should be number. The word amount should be used for wine, sugar or sand etc.

Thanks to MN I am now aware of the difference between lose/loose!

CJCrEgg Fri 22-Mar-13 12:20:12


All plurals. Nothing belongs to them; nothing has been omitted.



No apostrophe required.

(However, if referring to a decade, the apostrophe could go before the number to indicate the omission at the beginning eg '70s for 1970s.)


Sorry. I know I should fuck to Pedants' Corner blush

Misfit13 Fri 22-Mar-13 12:23:59

It gives me brainache too, stubborn stains.
Folkgirl - I made an exception for a crap speller once because he looked just right and liked a lot of the same things. But every message he sent just made me cringe.
About 5 years ago, DS1 received a detention for being rude and disruptive. He says he raised his hand and pointed out there is no apostrophe in 'rules'. He's a chip off the old block. Once, I asked to see an advert that was in the newsagent's window, corrected it and handed it back :|
I blame spell checkers.

limitedperiodonly Fri 22-Mar-13 12:28:05

I agree composhat. Though if you really were Ken Barlow you'd believe there was a golden age in which it was okay to molest children.

gazzalw Fri 22-Mar-13 12:29:39

On your initial point, OP, I was shocked that schools now teach that they're is a homonym with there and their. How can that be right???? This is primary schools too! hmm.

Agree about texting being a root evil too. The problem is that if you spend your every 'writing' moment, texting, you will end up speaking and writing very slovenly English, if only thro' sheer laziness!

DH and I were just noticing the other day that people seem to rather like an apostrophe before the S, whether or not it's warranted, but many (including myself I have to admit) are quite reluctant to put one after the S.

So, happy for example with potato's (where it should be potatoes) or child's toy
But very unsure with something like flowers' petals

As I said, I have to admit to being rather unsure myself !
Tell me I'm right with my flowers ?!

Misfit13 Fri 22-Mar-13 12:37:45

My good friend frequently promotes her FB selling page with 'Please like are page.' I've patiently explained what it should say, and why, but to no avail. I intend to make her a little folded card for her desk with ' Please like our page' written on it.

Hamishbear Fri 22-Mar-13 12:41:16

'I believe in Cava' utterly brilliant! smile

Teach the science first and then the art, but it's not going to happen and it's only to get worse from here. Things are changing and I predict grammar and spelling will not be bothered about in the future - they'll be a 'ap' for that when it counts (which won't be often).

nagynolonger Fri 22-Mar-13 12:43:08

Oh dear I'm sure I've done that with numbers......sorry CJC. And I must remember it's not fourty.

I know an awful lot of elderly people who really aren't comfortable reading and writing at all. Lots of 'oh, I've lost my glasses, you read it for me', and lots of people who end up in adult remedial education because, increasingly, our society requires basic literacy in a way it didn't even thirty years ago.

So I find it unlikely that the SPAG standards of under 30s are significantly lower than those of older groups.

And FWIW, worra - I'm dyslexic and my spelling isn't shit. grin

She says, combing message for friendly red lines.

gazzalw Fri 22-Mar-13 12:46:00

If the apostrophe isn't used to shorten a word such as is or not etc... it tends to be a possessive so flowers' petals (the petals of flowers) or a flower's petals (the petals of a flower) would both be correct.

limitedperiodonly Fri 22-Mar-13 12:48:07

I like 'smothercate'. Very descriptive.

DolomitesDonkey Fri 22-Mar-13 12:48:55

limitedperiod I was in a quandary about the CV's vs. CVs one - I did actually read a very good argument some years ago about why both PC's and PCs can be correct - but I'm afraid I forget the detail. blush Perhaps some clever grammar know-it-all can remind me?

OneLittleToddleTerror Fri 22-Mar-13 12:51:13

Isn't it PC's is about possessive, and PCs the plural? So both are correct depending on the sentence?

OneLittleToddleTerror Fri 22-Mar-13 12:52:17

I mean it's like boys vs boy's. As in The boy's mother, or the boys are playing in the garden. Unless there are different rules for acronyms that I'm not aware of.

Erm ...neither CVs nor CV's is correct.

The plural of CV is CV.

OneLittleToddleTerror Fri 22-Mar-13 12:56:20

Um, I would argue that the plural of CV is CVs, while the plural of curriculum vitae is curricula vitae. (I only know this because of datum/data).

DolomitesDonkey Fri 22-Mar-13 12:56:41

I'm wondering if it's something to do with PCs being Personal Computers - ergo they are posessed by persons. confused In which case that wouldn't apply to CV - unless the latin is different - and LRD says no.


Why? It's plural already, it doesn't need an extra S.

I don't follow the PC/PCs argument with them being possessed by persons ... how does that work? confused

(Btw, I am watching the West Wing and have Bartlett-style pedantry in my mind. I don't actually have a clue for myself.)

It's like people on here writing DCs instead of DC - why? I don't get it.

nagynolonger Fri 22-Mar-13 13:00:59

Will someone please tell me which is correct.

James's bedroom or maybe James' bedroom

limitedperiodonly Fri 22-Mar-13 13:01:57

Yes LRD. But CV is a word in its own right. Plus it's usage that counts more, which means that words and phrases will end up being what most people believe them to be whether I like it or not.

OneLittleToddleTerror Fri 22-Mar-13 13:02:45

You mean PC is already plural? I thought it stood for Personal Computer. The singular.

I don't think it's a word in its own right, but fair enough.

I accept that's how usage works, and I don't have an issue with it. I just don't quite get this instance.

one - no, I'm completely in the dark about whatever is being said about computers. I meant, 'curricula vitae' is already plural, just as 'dear children' is already plural, so, to me, CV and DC sound better than CVs and DCs.

OneLittleToddleTerror Fri 22-Mar-13 13:05:14

nagynolonger I believe both is correct. Like St James's Hospital vs ... there must be some St James' somewhere.

Meandmarius Fri 22-Mar-13 13:05:45

Nagy, wouldn't it be James's bedroom as there is only one James? James' would imply that there's more than one James.

Not sure if that makes sense written down but sounds right in my head!

ComposHat Fri 22-Mar-13 13:05:48

LRD I agree, my Grandmother can just about write her name and address. She can read the more straightforward articles in the Sun but anything else defeats her. My Aunty (in her 70s) can't read in her head and struggles over relatively simple words.

Both of them came into the labour market at a time when there were countless jobs available that didn't require any literacy or numeracy skills. I'd imagine jobs like that are relatively few and far between today.

They also didn't have Facebook or web-forums where their spelling and grammar could be held up to ridicule. It was easier to avoid written communication; the only people who ever saw their written output were family members. My granddad would write everything for my Gran, including notes to the milkman. It was a bit awkward when she got him to write a message that read, 'Come round at half seven, Harry is on nights this week' (Joke)

I don't imagine they are unique amongst people of their generation.

BagWoman Fri 22-Mar-13 13:05:59

As a former teacher who began teaching English in sec school in the mid 1970s, I can tell you that the old O level and GCSE exams were marked more strictly- with deduction of marks for grammar, punctuation and spelling errors. The weighting of these now is far less- resulting in pupils not being taught so rigorously. To compound that you have a generation or two of teachers who were not taught themselves- so they can't mark their pupils' work correctly either. The new curriculum is supposedly putting back the emphasis on correct spelling etc re. exam grades.

But I think the one people get wrong most would be "the boys' jumpers were all left lying in the mud" - where there are lots of boys and lots of jumpers !

shrinkingnora Fri 22-Mar-13 13:06:19

SecretLindtBunny - just wanted to clarify something. You did tell her it was 'Mowet' not 'Moway', didn't you?

BagWoman Fri 22-Mar-13 13:08:48

Nagy, wouldn't it be James's bedroom as there is only one James? James' would imply that there's more than one James.

The rule for words like names/proper nouns which end in 's' is that either is correct. James' looks neater and in context you would know if it was 1 James or more than 1. James's is equally correct but looks a bit odd.

eg Charles' wife is called Camilla. No mistaking how many men there are- is there?

grin I always like a good milkman joke.

But yes - my mum used to do remedial education for adults and I think it's not that uncommon.

I do know people in their teens/early 20s who come out with the old 'I don't need to learn to spell because I have a spellchecker', but they're mostly doing it to wind me up (no, no idea how to put that preposition somewhere nicer).

limitedperiodonly Fri 22-Mar-13 13:19:08

SecretLindtBunny - just wanted to clarify something. You did tell her it was 'Mowet' not 'Moway', didn't you?

I wanted to know that too shrinkingnora but I was too shy to ask.

mrsbungle Fri 22-Mar-13 13:20:41

I completely agree. I agree that most people my age (mid 30's) and above seem to have a good enough grasp of grammar and spelling (I am basing this on my extensive research of, erm, my facebook!).

The teenagers on my facebook, though, beggar belief. I don't think it's about texting - they just can't spell. My 18 year cousin spells terrible as terribul. No for know, aloud for allowed etc. She spells cheaper - as cheeper.

There are lots of people on my facebook who I went to school with. Quite a few of them left school at 16 and I don't think they would mind me saying they were not really academic. All of them can spell properly.

I asked my friend (who is a teacher) about it and she told me that teachers are supposed to be pointing out the good bits about a student's work. So the emphasis is on their creativity. Say they are writing a story - if the story is good and they have tried to tell it well - then basically if there are spelling mistakes - they are ignored. They have moved away from the red pen through what a pupil has written. I am sure there is a lot more to it than that but this is how she explained it to me.

nagynolonger Fri 22-Mar-13 13:20:59

Thanks for the replies. Maybe it just looks strange because James ends in 's'.

I think it was a bit rubbish in the old days though when the main, or only, feedback you'd get back from your teacher about your great story was several mis-spelled words crossed out and re-written in red pen. Maybe, if you were lucky, a "good" at the bottom. That was quite lazy teaching too wasn't it ? And discouraging really. (Though as my Mum was a teacher I know it takes a while to read them all and go though them with your red pen !)
I think there's more helpful things you could notice and draw child's attention to though, such as "great beginning" or such-like smile

Tortington Fri 22-Mar-13 13:29:18

- on mumnset I don't give a shit, but in real life and at work I do. I often look at the computer with lopsided head when it suggests some grammatical error, I don't know wtf is wrong. no idea what a colon or semi colon is for - and yes I have googled it - but it doesn't stick in my brain.

A colon/semi colon seems almost superfluous. If spell checker tells me to whack it in - I will - not sure it's actually doing something a comma or a full stop couldn't do.

there is also some rule about when you can start a sentence with 'And'. whilst I can't remember what that rule is - it's not needed.

MORE SERIOUSLY. Grammar or the lack of - doesn't bother me as much as how many children can genuinely not read very well. It's shocking

OneLittleToddleTerror Fri 22-Mar-13 13:35:44

custardo I don't nit pick on grammar mistakes. But when I see a whole post filled with mistakes from all of


It really really does my head in.

Meandmarius Fri 22-Mar-13 13:35:53

It's like people on here writing DCs instead of DC - why? I don't get it.

I suppose if you were saying 'I went to the shops with my DC', that could read as dear child or dear children, so the poster could be using DCs to communicate that they have more than one child.

Meandmarius Fri 22-Mar-13 13:39:37

BagWoman, as a former teacher do you think that there was more emphasis on reading and books back when you first started teaching, than there is now?
Or am I looking back with rose-tinted glasses smile

Talkinpeace Fri 22-Mar-13 13:40:48

Grammar matters.

I'm an accountant. If I write letter to clients or HMRC I need to be certain that they understand what I am saying in the same way that I intend it.
They also need to be able to ascertain the multiple levels on which a letter can be written.
Without good grammar, misunderstandings arise.

That is why English is the language of diplomacy and commerce : it has such versatile vocabulary and phrasing.

When my children produce a piece of work for school I make them read it aloud to me. There is no better way to make them realise if the grammatical structures work or do not.

happynappies Fri 22-Mar-13 13:46:58

I agree with a lot of the points that have been made. My dd is only six, and her teacher doesn't correct her spelling. She is very creative, and writes constantly - stories, letters, you name it. For example, "...thar wance was a very por family they lived nestor to a very rich man... a magical story for everyone to enjoy". I love to see her budding creativity, but just want to correct her spelling all the time. Is it really wrong for youngsters to learn to spell correctly? I genuinely don't know what to do. When I asked the teacher she said it would become very negative if you were picking at every word constantly, and would switch the children off from writing... interested in what others think - what do you do with your own dcs writing?

happynappies Fri 22-Mar-13 13:47:57

for once autocorrect has actually corrected correctly. It was a 'magicl story for everone to engoy'

Samu2 Fri 22-Mar-13 13:49:02

My grammar used to be horrendous, it is a lot better now, but still very poor. I am having to teach myself and I can't remember learning much about grammar at school at all. I am 31.

My teenagers grammar is pretty poor as well and when I asked him if he has been taught the correct use of apostrophes yet he said he hadn't.

I have a few teens on my FB and their spelling is awful and everyone one of them seem to confuse there/their/they're etc so I do wonder why schools aren't working harder on teaching basic grammar.

I am a good speller but grammar and punctuation often confuses me.

Hamishbear Fri 22-Mar-13 13:50:34

Many get it eventually if they read but this new generation don't read so much I think. Other countries have no aversion to the red pen. Speak to anyone educated elsewhere in Europe (usually with spelling in English that puts ours to shame) and tell them having spelling corrected destroys creativity and they'll laugh in your face. It wasn't like that for them and they are not shells of people with their self esteem destroyed (I've found).

'whether the grammatical structures work or do not', I would have said.

Interesting what you say about English and versatility - surely the fact you'd put 'if' and I would choose 'whether', in that sentence, is evidence of versatility and so is the fact English (unlike French) really can evolve new grammar without any panel of experts to insist it stagnates?

'Other countries have no aversion to the red pen.'

Which ones, specifically?

LaQueen Fri 22-Mar-13 14:01:07


I can and will judge people who don't/can't use the correct written/spoken English appropriate to the situation.

Sadly, it's largely due to the en masse dumbing down of English, in order to make it more accessible, and bite sized and more ensure we have as many as people as possible using a slovenly, pidgin English. Result... hmm

I did hear on the teacher grapevine, that there were plans afoot to introduce some kind of Mickey Mouse GCSE in Digital Communication which would essentially allow students to fanny about on FB/texting/Media sites - and they could then write (and I use that term in its most general sense) their coursework in text-speak to illustrate their understanding and mastery of the new forms of digital communication.

WTAF angry

LaQueen Fri 22-Mar-13 14:04:35

Hamish I had parent's evening last night. DD1's teacher waxed lyrical about her creative writing skills, her imaginative poetry, her innovative use of language...yadda, yadda...

When I tackled him about her comedy spelling, I was informed that concentration on the technical side could possibly stifle her creative flow hmm

I smiled tightly, crossed my arms, and pointed out that it wouldn't matter a jot how creative DD1's writing was, if none of it actually made any sense to the reader. The teacher didn't have a reply for that one...

LaQueen Fri 22-Mar-13 14:09:17

Totally agree with you Talkin - there simply has to be a standardised, recognised format for written English, in order that there can be complete and clear understanding between two parties - especially in matters of bsuiness/law etc.

If you had everyone having a stab at what they hoped was an easily understood letter/email..using their own comedy, phonetic spelling (which is impossible to follow if people have regional dialects), and just tossing in a few vague commas here and there, then chaos ensues.

SecretLindtBunny Fri 22-Mar-13 14:09:35

I did indeed pronounce the "t"

GraceSpeaker Fri 22-Mar-13 14:11:33

Colons and semicolons are both used to connected related sentences without using a conjunction. Simple guide here:

A great deal of my understanding of grammar comes from studying Latin (at a state school) rather than English, because the terms were taught explicitly and explained properly. I do remember a project in English when we were 13 (I'm 30) where we were allowed to choose an aspect of grammar to research and create a booklet on. I chose apostrophes and have always been able to use them confidently since.

I think part of the problem is that a lot of young people know they need to spell, punctuate and use grammar correctly in formal writing (which is taught in schools as a specific topic), but aren't convinced that they need to use it elsewhere ("but this isn't an English essay"). Thus, they don't necessarily get as much practice as they could. I have to say that I do mark SPAG in red and I don't teach English. I also often find myself teaching it (Y10 have been repeatedly taken through the uses of affect/effect/effect and actually find it very interesting).

Poor spelling and grammar certainly aren't limited to young people, however. I see plenty of appalling writing all over the internet. The youth of today can't be blamed if they're learning from bad examples.

ComposHat Fri 22-Mar-13 14:17:44

I try not to be pedantic about these things, I know my grammar isn't perfect and I am aware that someone could always out-pedant me when it comes to grammar.

If some one writes something with a stray possessive apostrophe or confuses tenses, I try and look beyond it and look at their argument, rather than getting hung up on these things however much they get on my tits

Full on grammar Nazis can come across as being supercilious shits who see the inflexible application of rules learned by rote as a substitute for intelligence or thought.

Well said, I agree.

Hamishbear Fri 22-Mar-13 14:19:24

LaQueen is spot on when she says: Sadly, it's largely due to the en masse dumbing down of English, in order to make it more accessible, and bite sized and more ensure we have as many as people as possible using a slovenly, pidgin English. Result...

Twas over so though. Writing standards have been steadily declining over time and given that I doubt any child will pick up let alone read an unabridged children's classic in a few years it's the way of the future. You'll be judged at how creative and adept you are with 'Digital Communication' as LaQueen puts it. The sad thing is when the death knell sounds in that respect and the reading of any sort of quality literature (which I fear will follow) in favour of the excerpt quickly follows we may see children's concentration, powers of analysis and deduction, memory, ability to persevere all also steadily decline.

MrsGrumps Fri 22-Mar-13 14:26:41

Emails I receive from work colleagues who use incorrect SP&G get sent back with corrections made in red.

Does tend to be the younger members of staff rather than the older ones, but I do bite my tongue from doing that to the MD though!

JustinBsMum Fri 22-Mar-13 14:30:40

My written work has improved immensely through using mumsnet and similar and writing emails.

So I would think many younger people's will have too.

And if you can't spell your question correctly Google won't find it.

Unless they only ever txt to their equally illiterate friends!

LaQueen Fri 22-Mar-13 14:30:49

"Full on grammar Nazis can come across as being supercilious shits who see the inflexible application of rules learned by rote as a substitute for intelligence or thought."

I'm certainly not a Grammar Nazi, Compo - but I can/do use the correct language appropriate to the situation.

The problem with your above observation, is that people do judge...and, if your written/spoken SPAG is really poor, that it won't matter how intelligent you actually are, because an awful lot of people will have judged you, and found you wanting...and won't bother to discover your hidden intelligence.

A badly written CV...well, that's straight in the bin - and the employer won't ever know you have an IQ of 186.

I don't believe that's true about 'dumbing down'. As for 'pidgin English' - English started out as a 'pidgin' language. That's in its roots. Are we really suggesting that the language of Chaucer was 'slovenly'?

I don't believe that digital communication is a language in itself, so I don't really see how you could describe the mixture as pidgin anyway.

This hysteria about dumbing down is ridiculous. Every few generations it happens about something or other. If you look at Shakespeare's older colleagues, they were saying these things about him.

I am pretty sure this storm in a teacup will seem equally laughable to later generations.

lisson Fri 22-Mar-13 14:32:57

It does matter, but has anyone else noticed that they keep putting typos into things even though they absolutely know what it should be? Reading back what I've written, I often find that I've written their when I mean there or to when I know its too.
Maybe others are like me, and as a result, forums and status posts on facebook etc give a worse impression than the reality?

limitedperiodonly Fri 22-Mar-13 14:35:47

Wow mrsgrumps, colleagues, you say? As in your equals at work? Don't hold out much hope for your leaving collection.

It's muscle memory, sometimes, isn't it?

I also think with some people it's affectation, like the way my little brother carefully removed all the consonants from his speech when he wanted to look cool. grin

Hamishbear Fri 22-Mar-13 14:44:43

Feminist Dragon you are right in that language evolves. I think the way of the future is as LaQueen describes and I can't help feeling we are losing something important. I've said it before too but barely any children will be reading children's classics and novels in 20 years (unless they are bite-sized or interactive in some form). It makes me feel rather sad, we stand to lose so much I think.

ComposHat Fri 22-Mar-13 14:47:33

LaQueen Of course people should be able to write communicate clearly and consistently, but it doesn't need to be taken to the Nth degree.

MrsGrumps very kindly provided a perfect example of what I mean by a grammar Nazi. Her use of grammar is nothing more than a tool to demean her colleagues and assert her superiority. The fact that she doesn't do this to her boss speaks volumes.

Why do you think that about novels or classics? confused

And how can you possibly predict that?

I remember when the Harry Potter books came out, people had been saying how hard it was to get children reading, declining standards, no-one cares about literature any more, etc. etc. ... and then children took to these books, and they went from Harry Potter to other books. I know some out-of-print books actually came back into print (and haven't gone out again yet), because of that effect.

I suspect such books come along quite regularly, too.

BarbJohnson5 Fri 22-Mar-13 14:59:50

I agree with those who said its the dumbing down of people in today's society. Its like no one can be bothered to grammatically check sentences and spellings before hitting the send button. Another thing that i've noticed especially with American's is the use of 'rather' instead of whether. e.g. 'its wrong rather you agree or not' instead of whether'. I've never understood that for a second. Sadly, too much time spent shortening words and this culture of 'what's in' type of language cannot be beneficial in the long run as people are also struggling to write CV's, covering letters as well as speak at a competent, professional level when job hunting and over the phone etc...It starts with the streets and the kids are only too happy to come home speaking a certain way, because they think it makes them cool. I have to get in my teens faces sometimes when they try that rubbish at home. I won't have it for a second.

limitedperiodonly Fri 22-Mar-13 15:03:41

Surely the number of people able to read classics or 'difficult' literature is higher than before because more people are able to read hamishbear.

Whether they do so is up to them in a world where we get our entertainment from so many sources, including wildly popular books which have no literary value but provide harmless fun.

Besides, when TV or film adaptations are made there will always be a few people inspired to read the book who might not have considered it before, so that's good.

The interesting thing about film is it busts the myth of dumbing down. We're able to handle much more complex storylines than people were when Buster Keaton was a big star.

People in the early 20th century wouldn't have been able to follow things as long and with as many characters as The Sopranos or The Wire, not because they were more stupid than we are, but because they didn't process information in the way we do now.

I don't think civilisation is about to end any time soon.

Sleepthief Fri 22-Mar-13 15:06:01

Perhaps it would be better if we put kids with dyslexia and other learning difficulties back in the 'remedial' class and tell them they're thick and worthless like they did to my DH back in the '70s while they were hammering grammar into the ones whose brains were wired the 'correct' way hmm

God forbid we might have realised there's more to life...

grin at barb. Nicely done.

Hamishbear Fri 22-Mar-13 15:20:19

Feminist Dragon at our school Ipads are being phased in from the Infants up, I don't really see books having much of a role to play in the future I suppose (at least in the traditional form).

Interesting, Limited, especially about film.

ComposHat Fri 22-Mar-13 15:21:38

At first, I wasn't 100% sure if Barb was taking the piss or not (which marks out the very best satire.) Well done on the incredible attention to detail, the lack of paragraphs was a masterstroke.

grimbletart Fri 22-Mar-13 15:24:52

I was always told when I was little that the correct use of "which" and "that" is the sign of an educated person. I believe American grammar rules are different from ours and also the English rules are now more relaxed about it. However, things that are said to you in early life seem to stick whether or not they are really important, so I still notice when these two words are used incorrectly (or perhaps I should say incorrectly according to the grammar rules when I was little).

But Ipads and books can coexist easily. Just as print and manuscript did, just as English and Latin did, just as oral culture and written culture did. I just don't see why this particular minor shift is generating so much angst.

simbo Fri 22-Mar-13 15:38:01

I think most of us concur that it does matter. I don't criticise my children for speaking sloppy english on the phone to their friends, but I certainly expect them to speak correctly in adult company. It is the same with writing. Text speak is fine for peer communication, but not for an essay. It's horses for courses. The more formal language needs to be taught, the rest they pick up by themselves. I find myself exasperated by teachers' poor spelling when marking work, too.

Hamishbear Fri 22-Mar-13 15:50:27

Yes, FeministDragon but I find that children increasingly won't read a 'book' unless it's bite-sized, interactive to some degree and eye catching. They are so not generally developing the requisite concentration to read a longer book or do much that requires focus and concentration that this skill may have generally helped impart in the past. Maybe that doesn't matter and it's evolution but I find it sad when children sigh and don't want to engage with anything longer than about 100 pages in modern, accessible language which provides instant gratification in some form or another. I fear something will be lost forever but perhaps it's just evolution?

ComposHat Fri 22-Mar-13 15:51:18

I was always told when I was little that the correct use of "which" and "that" is the sign of an educated person

When I was little, I was told that a big man with a beard would leave presents on my bedroom on the 25th December and that a fairy would leave 50p under my pillow when my teeth fell out. It doesn't make any of it true though. I'd argue it is no more a mark of educational ability than knowing how to use a fish-knife.

grimbletart Fri 22-Mar-13 15:53:14

ComposHat - grin

Hamishbear Fri 22-Mar-13 15:53:25

Also FeministDragon I personally think we lost out when Latin, in the way it used to be taught, was generally phased out but I appreciate most don't think that way.

I don't think that's true. Or rather, I think it's just as true today as it was 500 and more years ago when people were saying precisely the same things. Children just don't focus properly like they used to before the Great Plague, these days they're all insisting their Latin is translated into English not French, they have no powers of concentrating and the language is dumbing down.

Yet, when I look at books, they've not got substantially shorter over time, have they? And in fact, more and more people are learning to read. And people keep buying long books, whether on a kindle or in paper form. I just don't really see that there is a decline. I think it's an illusion that recurs to make us feel pessimistic about the next generation.

hamish - no, sorry, I wasn't mourning the loss of Latin taught in school last century. I was talking about when people started writing books in English and not Latin. I'm trying to say that these anxieties about cultural change and literate practice happen time and time again across centuries. They are not new. They do not result in civilization going down the pan. It just seems to me ... surely, if these worries were accurate, we wouldn't see them put forward time and again, in such similar forms, never having much real effect?

Of course it could be this is the one time the worriers are right, but I'm dubious.

Hamishbear Fri 22-Mar-13 15:56:32

If that's aimed at me CompostHat I had a poor education one of the reasons
I am keen my children do not.

I thought we'd established on the other thread that fish-knives were non-U anyway?

My brain can't cope with all these rules.

ComposHat Fri 22-Mar-13 15:58:28

It wasn't Hamish, no.

Talkinpeace Fri 22-Mar-13 15:59:24

Language evolves. That is fine. But as with the discussion about accents a week or so ago, if what you say is not clear to the intended audience, you may as well shut up.

In the spoken word that comes down to diction and softening accents.
In the written word (on screen or on paper) that comes down to grammar.

They will both evolve, but they will not vanish. Ever.

LaQueen Fri 22-Mar-13 15:59:53

"I don't believe that's true about 'dumbing down'. As for 'pidgin English' - English started out as a 'pidgin' language. That's in its roots. Are we really suggesting that the language of Chaucer was 'slovenly'?"

Totally agree LRD - English was a right mish-mash of Norman French, Anglo-Saxon, a touch of Celt with a smattering of Latin...imagine how different our English language would have been if Chaucer had been from Aberdeen, and The Canterbury Tales had been pribted in Edinburgh???

However, at that time, the official language of business/religion and the Courts of Law was Latin - because, it was learned and understood very comprehensively, by those who were educated. Therefore, it was the universal language for all matters important/business/law etc.

And, today I still think people should learn how to use language that is appropriate to the situation.

So, yes, fine...chatter on in text speak to your mates - but, children should also learn how to use, and converse in correct English, e.g. a version of English that is pretty standardised, and easily recognised and understood within formal/semi formal settings through out the world.

Hamishbear Fri 22-Mar-13 16:00:16

You may well be right, Feminist but I do think that books are generally shorter and simpler and that children are increasingly less willing to engage with them. They're less familiar after all in today's world with all the other electronic distractions.

ComposHat Fri 22-Mar-13 16:01:19

Fish-knives are non-U.

That's non-Upper Class isn't it? [Heaps confusion upon confusion]

We could always re-run the What/Pardon debate if anyone has a decade or two to spare.

adeucalione Fri 22-Mar-13 16:01:35

Well there's now a Grammar Test at the end of KS2 (I think this is the first year), and I know that all of our local primary schools are hastily slotting grammar lessons into their timetables, so maybe we will see an improvement in coming years.

habbibu Fri 22-Mar-13 16:02:02

yy, LRD. The early modern period had loads of people eanting in similar ways. The age of the Internet means we're now seeing so much more written English than 20 years ago - in the old days you simply didn't see so much of everyone's writing, and the only stuff widely published and read was by a fairly elite educated group. Now we see everything, and suddenly, shock horror, it seems worse. I dont know of objective evidence that grammar etc is worsening overall.

Well, quite, how could they vanish? confused

That's nonsensical.

Oh, big cross post, sorry.

I agree, habbibu.

SirEdmundFrillary Fri 22-Mar-13 16:05:14

No, but yes. Why constrain the way we can communicate? Why?

Nuances in music and paintings are accepted.

habbibu Fri 22-Mar-13 16:06:04

I seem to recall reading one book which discussed attitudes to the book in the early middle ages, where there were terrible worries that the book would be bad for people's brains, and their ability to memorise, etc. And those fears (in terms of memorising) may well have been justified.

But then people developed immensely clever and complicated strategies for memorisation, some of which modern psychological research has been rediscovering (so they are amazingly astute, for strategies developed so long ago!). Maybe we will do the same?

habbibu Fri 22-Mar-13 16:09:55

For what it's worth, La Q, I reckon that English would have been much the same had Chaucer been Scottish - he happened to write in a form that was in the process of becoming a standard, but I don't think he was that influential overall.

habbibu Fri 22-Mar-13 16:12:59

Yes, LRD, but isn't that because they needed to, and then the technology of the book took away much of that need? I don't know what will happen re printed books and electronic forms, but I doubt that the technology itself will cause some intellectual decline. Although had I relied on auto correct there I would have sounded even more foolish than usual.

LaQueen Fri 22-Mar-13 16:13:02

"People in the early 20th century wouldn't have been able to follow things as long and with as many characters as The Sopranos or The Wire, not because they were more stupid than we are, but because they didn't process information in the way we do now."

Oh, hardly LRD - what about Wagner's Ring Cycle? Or The Rubaiyat by Omar Khyyam...or The Canterbury Tales...or The Ramayana...or Beowulf...or The Mahabharata...or The Iliad/Odyssey???

Just a few off the top of my head - but since the year dot, people have enjoyed very, very long narratives, with hundreds of characters and umpteen plot twists.

Oh, I missed LaQ's post, how did I do that? confused

I think I agree with Habbibu about Chaucer's English (with some reservations because I do think he was influential, just not that much, and nor was Caxton). It is fascinating to think of, though.

But no: the language of business and the Courts was not Latin. It was mostly French of England. Religion, yes, in Latin. But actually, by the time Chaucer was writing, a lot of business, especially the wool trade, would have been carried out in the vernaculars - Dutch as well as English and French. So the idea that there was a 'universal language' is outdated. Chaucer's language wasn't 'pidgin' because there was another, more important language for everything else.

FWIW, medieval Latin wasn't exactly beautifully standardized and grammatically regular either.

This idea that the past is always better is really problematic.


That's not me you're quoting, I think?

Agree with you that people have loved long, complicated plots pretty much consistently through time.

habbibu Fri 22-Mar-13 16:16:26

Sorry, Lrd, I really was trying to say that though the fears about memorization may have vome true, no one, save Michael Gove, possibly, cares about that now. And didn't the advent of print and the increasing use of English cause similar stirs?

Frogman Fri 22-Mar-13 16:17:30

I can't be arsed to read all this thread however the OP should have tried a bit harder with her opening post. Within the first three words she screws up what she's complaining about.

habbibu Fri 22-Mar-13 16:17:53

Medieval Latin downright nasty to read sometimes!

Oh, yes - I was digressing rather than disagreeing, habbibu. I think we're very much saying the same thing, that usually these anxieties find a way to work themselves out, and we forget there was ever an issue. Then we romanticize the past and decide they never had such problems.

I do think Gove is very, very, very dodgy in the way he is constructing this idealized 'England of the past' narrative as a way to validate his education programme.

(Btw, this is probably dead boring, but I think people are debating all that stuff about Type II London English again. Dialect people make my head hurt, but I think they might be deciding it's all a bit different from what they thought before.)

LaQueen Fri 22-Mar-13 16:23:32

The official language for stuff pertaining to law/religion was Latin, and whilst the educated elite did speak Norman French at Court, most often when meeting visiting diplomats/royalty/officials etc, then Latin was often the only language that all people present had at least a working knowledge of.

Granted, a lot of business chatter would have been in English/Dutch/whatever...but, any official documentation wasn't likely to be written in the vernacular, because there would have been too many opportunities for error and misunderstanding? Which is never good, when you've just signed a contract to provide 300 wool fleeces/300 tunnes of wine/ or whatever hmm

habbibu Fri 22-Mar-13 16:24:28

Well, it's pretty old! Is it Simon Horobin? He was postdoc when I was a postgrad, and talking about revisiting Type II, but that was ages ago.

LaQueen Fri 22-Mar-13 16:25:02

Ooops, sorry LRD it wasn't you, it was limited who I was quoting.

I should have known you wouldn't say such a thing...I'm just so used to debating with you on this subject, that I assumed it was you grin

Hamishbear Fri 22-Mar-13 16:25:14

As to the past being 'better' being 'problematic' I am not so sure. I think there was something to be said - going back a bit - for Latin and Greek being the starting point in helping to instill the ability to focus, to memorise, to analyse, to make deductions and problem-solve; character-development in the directions of diligence, perseverance and even integrity etc.

Some even thought - back in the old days - that Latin and Greek were so effective at training the intellect and character that all the other subjects could be picked up effortlessly outside school during holidays and in spare time.

A long way from the "child-centred" education & progressive education that is almost universal in the Western world today.

habbibu Fri 22-Mar-13 16:26:49

Depends exactly when you're talking about, LaQ, I think. Lots of change towards later part of period, and huge expansion of vernacular. Details elude me, mind! Wasn't Anglo-Norman only finally put to bed as a Govt language surprisingly recently?

GraceSpeaker Fri 22-Mar-13 16:28:19

Hamishbear, second the support for studying Latin and/or Greek. Certainly gives pupils a better working understanding of language in general as well as the skills you mention. There is still quite a lot of Classics teaching about, by the way - you just have to know where to look!

LaQ, I'm really sorry, but this isn't true. Honestly. There is plenty of perfectly official legal stuff going on in French of England. Richard II's court may well have spoken French of England, but they also spoke Middle English.

And no, people didn't necessarily carry out business documentation in Latin. There are plenty of business letters surviving that are written in Middle English, often with French address labels so they could be sent abroad.

habbibu - oh, that's really nice. I like Simon a lot, though he is constantly bemused I ever got to do a PhD. Yes, it's him I'm thinking of. I'd no idea he'd been working on this so long, but shows how little I know about it all.

LaQ - no worries! Both our names start with L, easy to mistake.

habbibu Fri 22-Mar-13 16:30:17

Ha! Do you work with him? He's professor of palaeography now, isn't he? Nice chap.

LaQueen Fri 22-Mar-13 16:30:27

Hab there was always a huge variety of spoken English, with all sorts of glorious language used.

But, I think with the advent of the printing press, and more printed works, then there was a move towards a more standardised written English. There had to be, else people in the North East, wouldn't have had a clue how to read what someone from Cornwall had writeen, for example.

Not, if the writing was largely reliant on phonetic spellings (further confused by strong dialects), or idioms/vernacular etc. People were easily confused and lost.

habbibu Fri 22-Mar-13 16:31:22

I know, LaQ! Spent much time having the 4 incipient standards drummed into me!

Hamishbear Fri 22-Mar-13 16:32:50

Yes, Gracespeaker but hardly any teachers about (Latin) who teach it in an old fashioned way promoting true understanding rather than encouraging students to guess.

SirEdmundFrillary Fri 22-Mar-13 16:32:59

Dear LRD,



habbibu Fri 22-Mar-13 16:33:33

But I'm not sure which point you're addressing, LaQ? yy, there was a move towards standardisation (pre-dating the printing press a bit), but I don't think I was saying there wasn't?



habbibu Fri 22-Mar-13 16:34:26


LaQueen Fri 22-Mar-13 16:36:03

LRD yes, I know that Norman French was widely spoken. But, I recall reading a document piece saying how impressed Charles of Burgundy was, that Edward IV offered to ease discussions by conversing fluently with him in Latin, when they met (having only heard that Edward IV was a party boy).

Although, interestingly, Charles of Burgundy actually could speak some English, if I remember correctly?

And, even as late on as the Tudors, both Henry and Elizabeth (probably showing of, I expect) offering to conduct meetings with foreign dignitaries in Latin, as it was a language everyone had a working knowledge of.

ComposHat Fri 22-Mar-13 16:36:17

Is this like the 'let's see who you really are' bit at the end of Scooby Doo, when they remove the mask from the villan and discover it was the old caretaker all along?

GraceSpeaker Fri 22-Mar-13 16:36:21

Hamishbear, do I detect a dislike of the Cambridge Latin Course...?

They can't guess at A-Level, no matter what course they've followed!

habbibu Fri 22-Mar-13 16:38:47

Depends what you mean by everyone, LaQ! I think that's what I was getting at before - there's talk of decline in standards, but those with "poorer" language were more hidden before. Most children didn't learn Latin and Greek, really, did they?

Goodadvice1980 Fri 22-Mar-13 16:39:41

And don't get me started on people who can't tell the difference between:



Hamishbear Fri 22-Mar-13 16:47:55

Grace - smile - may drop you a PM.

Surely the development is two-fold:

Twenty or more years ago, you hardly ever encountered text that hadn't been proofread/edited. Family letters were just about the only exception. Nowadays anyone can post anything they like, to be published instantly. And nobody checks first to see if the sequence of tenses makes sense, or that the punctuation is accurate, or whatever.

This means also that what we read has less consistency. If you see "definate" as often as "definite" then how do you learn what is right?

Talkinpeace Fri 22-Mar-13 17:20:26

Fair point. Even in offices I worked at, letters were always produced by typists who tended to check in the dictionary and with each other.
The advent of the word processor put lots of typists out of work and meant that the weaknesses in their bosses education could shine through.

Then again, I've always said that spell checkers are only good for those who can spell unless they have an excellent grammar context setting (and I'm yet to find one that does!)

I did some work for a boss who used to correct my corrections, having previously subbed for an editor who would correct "the food was so vile it made me retch" to "...wretch".

It is soul-destroying.

On the other hand, I now do a lot of proofreading for friends who know that I will find the rogue mistakes and highlight the ambiguities. The number of CVs (yes, I say "seeveez" so I spell it with an S) I've looked over...

complexnumber Fri 22-Mar-13 17:31:14

"I just wonder if there is as much emphasis on it nowadays as there was back in the day.. "

You do realise that people were saying exactly the same thing about your generation when you were at school!

TunipTheVegedude Fri 22-Mar-13 17:32:37

At dh's work (a university) they were informed by Human Resources that they couldn't put 'a good standard of written and spoken English' as a requirement for a secretarial job because it was discriminatory.
We think, of course, that HR had taken leave of their senses, and do not believe for a moment that it is illegal, but it does demonstrate the fear people can have these days about demanding correctness.

Talkinpeace Fri 22-Mar-13 17:38:32

I hope your DH and his colleagues named and shamed that HR staffer to their faculty dean.
Try getting a research grant application through without "a good standard of written and spoken English"

As I said above, if you cannot make yourself clearly understood to the intended audience of your communication, shut up.
Or learn grammar and diction grin

shhhw Fri 22-Mar-13 17:40:57

I am an English academic in a top university. Believe me, five years ago, I was in despair, but I genuinely believe things are getting better. I still spend lots of time banging on about commas/ the semi colon (not really my job, but hey - someone's got to do it), but I think most students are coming to us with a better standard of grammatical knowledge. Perhaps this is the result of a new wave of kids who have gone through a new (New Labour?) regime?? I was never taught grammar at school (state school, 1980s), but I did always read a lot so perhaps it just seeped in.

Meandmarius Fri 22-Mar-13 17:41:55

I can't be arsed to read all this thread however the OP should have tried a bit harder with her opening post. Within the first three words she screws up what she's complaining about.

Not the most constructive of comments, Frogman. It is such a shame that you 'can't be arsed to read all this thread', or indeed the remainder of my original post. There are some great viewpoints here and some fascinating information.

Heck, you mind learn something. I know I have.

limitedperiodonly Fri 22-Mar-13 17:41:58

In that post you quoted from I'm talking specifically about film and TV LaQueen, not about literature or spelling and grammar, which I can talk about if you like.

It's a well-established fact that early broadcast media audiences couldn't handle complicated plots, which is why many of us today struggle to understand why Charlie Chaplin was so popular, despite him being extremely skilled and sophisticated.

The first of the modern multiple-episode TV shows was a thing called Murder One in about 1995. People didn't believe that something on telly running over 20+ episodes with many characters and multiple plotlines would be a hit.

Yet it was fantastic and is really worth looking up. Honestly. It ran only for two seasons and the second was lame, but it spawned 24, Six Feet Under, Big Love, Picket Fences, The Sopranos, The Wire and many more that I've forgotten that we're so used to now that are mostly okay but sometimes sublime.

It really is a myth that people have dumbed down. How many people found out more about Roman culture and its empire from the hundreds of programmes and books prompted by Gladiator? Or Greek mythology after the film and comic book 300?

We choose what to consume from an ever-expanding entertainment market, which is an embarrassment of riches and to my mind can only be good. The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám is essentially entertainment, not an improving work. At least, I hope it is.

And yes, grimbletart I used 'which' when I should have used 'that'. That's why I don't like giving hostages to fortune on these threads but snigger when people do, as many have done. Of course, I'm far too polite to point that out.

habbibu Fri 22-Mar-13 17:42:52

ooh, murder one is ace!

Meandmarius Fri 22-Mar-13 17:44:06

small voice might

RainbowsFriend Fri 22-Mar-13 17:55:25

I was NOT taught grammar at school (I'm 39). I'm ashamed to admit that I learned most of my grammar from an old boss who would, nicely, take the piss out of me errors until I improved!

We're still friends, and I am very grateful to him. He taught me how to correctly spell separately and definitely. He also bought me the book "Eats Shoots and Leaves".

The point I am trying to make is that even if you weren't taught at school there should be nothing holding you back from learning grammar, if you want to.

The real problem is that there is no motivation in learning correct grammar as there is SO MUCH incorrect grammar around that it is usual and normal. sad

limitedperiodonly Fri 22-Mar-13 17:59:30

And in the year dot most people couldn't read and enjoy the Rubáiyát, Chaucer or what was in the Bible. Controlling the ability to read is an excellent way of controlling them.

On those grounds I'd champion literacy even if it was to a poor standard. You can always get better.

Helltotheno Fri 22-Mar-13 18:01:10

Yay Murder One !!

It's true that it's not people who have dumbed down, but ime we've definitely seen a dumbing down of language that I would attribute mainly to globalisation and technology, and it's definitely worldwide. Smaller languages are very much under threat by English, which is the main language of 'couchah' and economics... oh and by small languages, I don't mean ones we've never heard of, I mean French, German etc. ... languages we always thought were unassailable. The question is, will they be around in 100 years?

We're also losing more complicated constructions in English, in favour of a more elliptical, 'flat' style. For example, take relative clauses like: of whom, of which, none of whom etc. That stuff is just dying a death because people aren't in the habit of using those constructions and have forgotten how... it's easy to see it as richness being lost (and a lot of the time I do) but things always give way to other things, and I'd love to be alive to see what it's all like in 300 years....

Talkinpeace Fri 22-Mar-13 18:01:14

I'd have to say that the first of the multi plotline programmes was actually Soap and then things like Thirty Something or Hill Street Blues : where you either had to be in at the start or ask somebody who had seen it all.

TunipTheVegedude Fri 22-Mar-13 18:10:12

I don't know about 'dumbing down', but skills in different things certainly ebb and flow. One of the things I've found interesting in the creative writing books I've read recently is the discussion of how much more modern fiction readers are expected to read between the lines than in the past. Writers 150 years ago would spell things out more; readers now would feel patronised if you explained exactly what emotion your character was experiencing rather than sketching out their behaviour and expecting the reader to work it out.
Novels now are less demanding in things like sentence length and vocabulary, but they require an equally demanding set of other skills to follow a less spelled-out story.

limitedperiodonly Fri 22-Mar-13 18:11:40

Not the most constructive of comments, Frogman. It is such a shame that you 'can't be arsed to read all this thread'

meandmarius you fucked up in the first three words of your OP. I wouldn't offer a hostage to fortune but you did by starting one of these 'why oh why' threads. Look it up and start again. Or don't, it's up to you.

limitedperiodonly Fri 22-Mar-13 18:14:36

talkinpeace Yes Soap, the continuing story of two sisters. What was I thinking of?

Lou Grant inspired me to become a reporter.

Talkinpeace Fri 22-Mar-13 18:24:49

For those who wonder ...
was THE MOST wonderful TV when I was a teenager

limitedperiodonly Fri 22-Mar-13 18:26:36

Also talkinpeace I grew into a social life after Soap so missed Moonlighting and ThirtySomething. Besides I wasn't ThirtySomething when it was on.

I hated that convoluted language in Hill Street Blues like in Deadwood, which I think was the same writer, wasn't it?

limitedperiodonly Fri 22-Mar-13 18:33:07

habbibu Fantastic wasn't it? And from when Stanley Tucci had hair.

BoneyBackJefferson Fri 22-Mar-13 18:38:58

Firstly (cos its good innit)

click if you can't be bothered to read

The the Impotence of Proofreading
by Taylor Mali

Has this ever happened to you?
You work very horde on a paper for English clash
And then get a very glow raid (like a D or even a D=)
and all because you are the word1s liverwurst spoiler.
Proofreading your peppers is a matter of the the utmost impotence.

This is a problem that affects manly, manly students.
I myself was such a bed spiller once upon a term
that my English teacher in my sophomoric year,
Mrs. Myth, said I would never get into a good colleague.
And that1s all I wanted, just to get into a good colleague.
Not just anal community colleague,
because I wouldn1t be happy at anal community colleague.
I needed a place that would offer me intellectual simulation,
I really need to be challenged, challenged dentally.
I know this makes me sound like a stereo,
but I really wanted to go to an ivory legal collegue.
So I needed to improvement
or gone would be my dream of going to Harvard, Jail, or Prison
(in Prison, New Jersey).

So I got myself a spell checker
and figured I was on Sleazy Street.

But there are several missed aches
that a spell chukker can1t can1t catch catch.
For instant, if you accidentally leave a word
your spell exchequer won1t put it in you.
And God for billing purposes only
you should have serial problems with Tori Spelling
your spell Chekhov might replace a word
with one you had absolutely no detention of using.
Because what do you want it to douch?
It only does what you tell it to douche.
You1re the one with your hand on the mouth going clit, clit, clit.
It just goes to show you how embargo
one careless clit of the mouth can be.

Which reminds me of this one time during my Junior Mint.
The teacher read my entire paper on A Sale of Two Titties
out loud to all of my assmates.
I1m not joking, I1m totally cereal.
It was the most humidifying experience of my life,
being laughed at pubically.

So do yourself a flavor and follow these two Pisces of advice:
One: There is no prostitute for careful editing.
And three: When it comes to proofreading,
the red penis your friend.

Talkinpeace Fri 22-Mar-13 18:43:30

Hill Street Blues : to me it sounds like Home - my Dad lives in the US.
Moonlighting : nope, I always hated Bruce Willis!
Thirtysomething : I was in my 20's
anybody remember Northern Exposure?

we are getting sidetracked, BUT, these are all series where a good memory and clear dialogue is ESSENTIAL

I give you the page of CLASSIC British literature where the punctuation makes is a bugger to read (so I have to again and again)

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
When Lizzie is staying at Netherfield looking after Jane and Bingley and Darcy get into the spat about inverted bragging about letter writing.
I've read it hundreds of times and its still not always clear who is addressing who !!

habbibu Fri 22-Mar-13 18:45:26

Oh, yes! I think he looks better bald. Loved it, really did.

digerd Fri 22-Mar-13 19:04:15

My errors are mostly bad typing, my eye sight degenerating and the old grey matter too - caused by that wretched inevitable 'ageing process'.

Don't care about the sin of 'splitting infinitives' , but still care about spelling, so bought myself a spellchecker to use when in doubt.

I am upset about the demise of my vocabulary memory though < sad face>

limitedperiodonly Fri 22-Mar-13 19:14:54

we are getting sidetracked, BUT, these are all series where a good memory and clear dialogue is ESSENTIAL

Yes. Good television. Comprehension skills are not only essential but commonplace in audiences of popular media IMHO. And interchangable. I don't know why you'd try to be elitist about it because that would be ridiculous.

winebag Fri 22-Mar-13 19:32:45

I don't think it's unreasonable to hope/expect people to make the effort to write and punctuate or even speak properly! I hate text speak for example: like, 'l8r' instead of later. Or 'm8' instead of mate. Drives me nuts. And takes longer to write messages this way. I'm a picky bugger with it. grin

LaQueen Fri 22-Mar-13 19:56:39

Ooooh, do I detect a slight note of affront limited grin

You know, you always take these debates so, so seriously - I see you have been very careful to include the correct diacritics, and everyfink wink

Take a leaf out of my and LRD's book, we loves a good debate about lingustics, we does, and it's always good fun, too smile

YANBU, OP, I think the problem is getting worse.
I was grinding my teeth at work today, three times today an email came out asking if the driver of such and such a car "could move your car as your blocking in a lorry".
My fingers were itching to reply!

LaQueen Fri 22-Mar-13 20:01:47

"And don't get me started on people who can't tell the difference between:



Aah, see Goose I have a real word blindness when it comes to those two. It's the oddest thing, but the more I look at them, the more I confuse them...and when typing I often misplace them. It's so annoying - but, I think it's something to do with muscle-memory, as LRD says?

I also have to physically restrain myself from typing confidentally ! I don't know why? I can see it looks wrong, but my fingers really want to type it that way - aaarrgghhh grin

There's a couple of words I stutter on, too. No idea why? I don't have a stutter, never have done - but, for some reason I really struggle to pronounce them. One of them is authoritative - can't remember what the other is, at the mo hmm

TunipTheVegedude Fri 22-Mar-13 20:02:59

Al Murray always replies to the 'your a cunt' messages on Twitter - 'my a cunt what?'
Still makes me laugh <sad>

sherazade Fri 22-Mar-13 20:06:47

I'm in my late twenties. The people I've worked with (in teaching, admin or management) who are in their fifties or over have often shocked me with their grammatical inaccuracies. Far more often than those in my own generation.
<Preps self for flaming>

LaQueen Fri 22-Mar-13 20:20:47

Love that Boney - despite an English degree, and some post-grad stuff, I am actually shit at proofing. DH used to ask me to proof his publications, but I honestly couldn't do it.

I read too fast. I simply cannot read more slowly...well, I can for a sentence or two...but, then just speed up. And, so I end up missing all the little errors. Technically speaking, I don't see them - as in, my eye/brain instantly compensates, unconciously makes the correction, and my eye moves on.

limitedperiodonly Fri 22-Mar-13 20:21:12

I flit effortlessly between po and the ridiculous laQueen. BTW what are diacritics? It doesn't seem terribly relevant to the cut and thrust of everyday life but enquiring minds and all that...

LaQ I am the opposite. I mentally stumble on errors so can't help halting. Any mental correction is very conscious and deliberate.

LaQueen Fri 22-Mar-13 20:25:05

Diacritics are those fancy-dancy, speshul punctuation twiddly bits that I can never get my keyboard to do...glyphs, accents and all that stuff smile

farewellfarewell Fri 22-Mar-13 20:28:43

I disagree that poor spelling is linked to lack of exposure to reading. Reading and spelling are two completely different skills. Children with poor working memory etc. will find it more difficult to learn to spell correctly. They may be avid readers. Others may read very little and spell very well. Poor spelling is not linked to low IQ. Perhaps believing that it is linked is a sign of stupidity....?Many of the greatest thinkers have been poor at spelling. I am dismayed at some of the comments re dyslexia/those who are simply "shit at spelling" hmm Poor grammar is another matter altogether and does make me twitch.

limitedperiodonly Fri 22-Mar-13 20:32:57

Ah, do you mean like the accents I put over the Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám? I just cut and pasted that to make sure I got the spelling right.

LaQueen Fri 22-Mar-13 20:36:11

Yes - I thought maybe you had figured out how to do them on a regular keyboard, I never have...

TunipTheVegedude Fri 22-Mar-13 20:39:44

There are keyboard shortcuts - I used to have a fancy mousemat I bought from the LRB which told you them all.

Here's a link with some
It's a bit of a faff though, usually easier to copy and paste.

limitedperiodonly Fri 22-Mar-13 20:42:19

No, me neither. I hope someone will be along later...

I do love a linguistics debate. And history of English language. smile

fare - poor grammar isn't necessarily another matter. Lots of dyslexics struggle with grammar just as they do with spelling, because it is to some extent to do with organization/sequencing, and those are characteristic dyslexic weaknesses.

limitedperiodonly Fri 22-Mar-13 20:43:55

Ooh, as if by magic here's tunip. Thanks for that link grin

TunipTheVegedude Fri 22-Mar-13 20:45:38


TunipTheVegedude Fri 22-Mar-13 20:46:22

x-post. Because it took me so long to type two special characters.... grin

farewellfarewell Fri 22-Mar-13 20:48:49

Quite possibly LRD. Of course this means that they can look forward to even more arses people assuming that they are stupid/lazy......Tunip go raibh míle/thank you for that link!

zwischenzug Fri 22-Mar-13 20:53:40

It's an issue but it is annoying that spelling and grammar get all the focus when maths skills are as bad, or more probably worse (across all ages), and nobody ever seems to advocate improving standards of maths. Maths is immeasurably more important than English for understanding things like getting the best deal, doing supermarket shopping, pensions, and organising your finances. It's ironic so much fuss is made over the budget every 6 months when so few people have the maths skills to make an educated comment on it.

A lot of so called 'poverty' is simply caused by people with bad maths skills being unable to budget correctly and wasting their money on stupid things and not being able to hang on to money for 5 minutes without spending it on something.

Also it seems to be fashionable to brag that "I can't do maths, hahaha"... yeah you're an innumerate moron, what's funny about that?

True, fare. sad

limitedperiodonly Fri 22-Mar-13 20:57:56

farewell I don't know a lot about dyslexia but as I said before, though my job is involved with good spelling and grammar, there is more than one way to skin a cat so I'd be looking at other skills too. But the jobs market is particularly, er, challenging atm.

MiniTheMinx Fri 22-Mar-13 21:04:22

zwischenzug you make an excellent point. Interesting too that parents and teachers tend to pick up on early problems with reading and spelling and dyslexia is fairly well catered for. Dyscalculia is virtually unrecognised. So much so that the spell check tells me I have spelt it incorrectly ! (I haven't)

limitedperiodonly Fri 22-Mar-13 21:05:22

Agree zwis. I probably wouldn't call them maths skills but they are. I'd be impressed by someone who could do a deal, work out a contract or handle a budget. That's the person I'd want. Lots of people can't do that.

I think it's getting more recognized.

I think there is a reason for the difference, though. Written language is a technology. Our brains didn't evolve to do written language, they evolved to do spoken language. It is predictable that a subset of the population won't have quite the right skills for written language. I am less convinced that arithmetical skills are something like that.

But then, I'm partly saying that because there's a school of thought that true dyscalculia is very rare, and much dyscalculia could be diagnosed as dyslexia (the benefit being that the same remedial teaching might help). That's only my personal feeling though.

I think it's interesting that I've seen people suggest a child who writes numbers backwards (for example) might be 'dyscalculic', whereas I think ten years ago that would have got the lay response 'oh, maybe s/he is dyslexic, mine does that with letters too'.

Reason it matters to me is I had a student who had a diagnosis of dyscalculia, which may well have been good, but it made him convinced he couldn't possibly have any need for help with essay writing. He did need help! Lots of these problems go together, I reckon, and we should be tackling all of them together.

farewellfarewell Fri 22-Mar-13 21:13:26

Many (most?) people with dyslexia would, I imagine, be particularly careful when submitting CV/cover letters/essays etc., purely because they are aware that spelling is a weak area for them. I don't imagine that it holds them back at that point iyswim. I do think school is more difficult though. Of course not everyone who is a poor speller/doesn't care about spelling things correctly is dyslexic but after years of coming down hard on poor spelling (teacher) I am gradually realising that it doesn't matter as much as I thought it did nor does it mean that the individual is not a "reader" Good spelling comes naturally to some individuals and not to others. Many schools no longer send home lists of spellings to learn for this very reason. Those students that naturally spell well don't need the lists and they appear not to help the others afaik. What, in fact, does it matter? I am still learning about it myself. grin

MiniTheMinx Fri 22-Mar-13 21:22:47

I'm not certain I agree. I read somewhere once that early humans who lacked language developed the idea of scratching symbols into the ground and of course using hand gestures. I'm not certain that we developed language long before an ability to judge distance/size/sequence/magnitude. People with dyscalculia have difficulty with the building blocks such as judging size, distance and magnitude.

That's interesting - and of course animals communicate with symbols too. I just feel it is qualitatively different, using written language and using arithmetic.

After all, we know dyslexia isn't as commonly diagnosed in each language as the next, so I think this argument does have to be specifically about written language now, and not loosely about visual symbols.

I mean, it is fascinating, isn't it, that much of geometry hasn't changed since before the birth of Christ, whereas some bits of punctuation didn't exist even a few centuries ago.

I take your point about judging size/magnitude, though.

MiniTheMinx Fri 22-Mar-13 21:36:12

Language must constantly evolve, we come into contact with other languages through immigration and travel. Many of the words we use everyday are French or have derived from Latin. My grammar is horrendous despite reading so much. Has the use of grammar changed over time ? Reading Defoe is hard work, reading Marx even more so. I find that the more I read the more distance there is between the written word and the spoken language. I would feel very silly speaking exactly as I write !

Oh, sure. I am not in the least arguing against language evolution, nor suggesting we should write as we speak or speak as we write.

Grammar has changed a lot over time, syntax even more, I think.

habbibu Fri 22-Mar-13 21:42:10

Yy, grammar changes, but much more slowly than vocabulary. I think the speaking and writing link is very context-dependent; but I think it's also one of the things that forensic linguists use to check the veracity of statements, etc.

MiniTheMinx Fri 22-Mar-13 21:51:18

Yes LRD, it's sentence structure that I think I may have the most difficulty with. Switching between what I am reading, what I read on MN and speaking. I struggle to read some of the posts on MN at times because some people use syntax that makes reading particularly hard work. I admit sometimes I give up. I don't judge but I miss out on the point someone is trying to make.

Yes, I find that a lot. I find it with speaking too - there's a woman I like very much, who always speaks in massively long, complicated, clause-laden sentences and I feel very dim with her because I genuinely struggle to follow it.

My own sentence structure isn't good. My grammar's fine, but my syntax is appalling.

(If that can even be true ... I think that's the right terms, at least.)

hab - that's very cool about forensic linguistics.

Dawndonna Fri 22-Mar-13 22:07:03

I have dyscalculia. I do not have, and have never had trouble with essays. I am not dyslexic. In fact my spelling and grammar skills are excellent.
I also have A level maths. I had the questions read to me and my answers were verbal. I'm capable of doing the maths but I cannot read the numbers correctly nor get them onto paper in the correct order.
Interestingly, it is almost thirty years since I took my A level, so it is obviously something that has been recognised for a considerable period of time.

MiniTheMinx Fri 22-Mar-13 22:09:32

I have one friend very similar to yours. It seems to stem from anxiety and lack of confidence in speaking.

I have another friend who is desperate for work. I am flagging and need help. It would make sense to offer her work but I know I would spend all my time proof reading. It's not her fault, she had a dreadful start and dropped out of school. I do think though there is a class issue because she writes as she speaks and doesn't acknowledge a difference between formal and informal language. Is that class or education ? or lack of exposure to different situations and expectations?

I didn't mean to offend, and I'm sorry if I did, or if you think it's inappropriate to speculate.

I am just wondering about fashions in diagnosis, which I think do exist, and have nothing to do with incidence of a particular disability, but do have a lot to do with how that disability is percieved. Personally, I've been diagnosed with specific learning disabilities three times, and each diagnosis has been different - and it makes me wonder, for someone like my student who was adamant that he was dyscalculic so no help with essays would be useful ... would another ed psych have diagnosed him with dyslexia instead? After all, a lot of the characteristics are the same, though obviously a lot are different too. They are spectrum disorders.

I don't know if dyscalculia is rarer than dyslexia, I was just wondering out loud whether there's some reason why people more often make a fuss about spelling and grammar than numbers, as zwis points out.

It is fascinating what you say about needing to have the numbers read to you ... that is really interesting.

mini - oh, god, not her, no! She's incredibly confident and erudite, but she does speak almost as one might write, really. I'm about 90% sure her sentences are completely grammatically correct, but they are just far too long and complex for me to follow. Interestingly, her mum is German, so that might have an impact.

I do know what you mean about people who conflate formal and informal language, though.

Dawndonna Fri 22-Mar-13 22:19:35

Good grief, if you are addressing me LRD, I am not offended in the slightest. I'm just trying, albeit in a rather clumsy fashion to demonstrate that true dyscalculia is really quite rare and doesn't usually affect other abilities. I know one or two people with it and we are all of the David Mitchell school of grammar.
The spectrum point is an interesting one, certainly two of us with 'real' dyscalculia are on the ASD spectrum. Hmm, think I may have to do a little research.

Whew! smile

I worried, as I really was just thinking out loud. I do wonder about it a lot but it's not something I know enough to talk about properly, except to know what 'some people think'.

I've certainly heard that dyslexia, dyspraxia, ADHD, and the ASD spectrum are increasingly thought all to be somehow interrelated.

I do think it's fascinating how much more we're learning about what makes it difficult for some people to cope with these skills that others manage easily, whether it's spelling or numbers.

FWIW, I can't hold more than two/three digits in my head at once, which is monumentally annoying but to do with short term memory. Quite a lot of people want to tell my I must have dyscalculia. I am pretty sure I don't!

MiniTheMinx Fri 22-Mar-13 22:28:05

I thought the Germans were keen on efficiency grin

Dawndonna, that's really interesting. I can have some hope for little DS. The eldest is a whizz with all things maths, the youngest struggles with magnitude, spacial relation and has a problem with working memory. He is brilliant with sequencing and written work is fine. Numbers orientated and ordered correctly. Could it be as LRD suggests that over time the Dx change according to new research or changes to the tests administered and the criteria.

Dawndonna Fri 22-Mar-13 22:34:45

It interesting. I am in my fifties, so of course Asperger's Syndrome was neither noted nor used as a diagnosis in my teens. Yes, there are theories that ASDs are related to other things across the board. I have four children, three with with Asperger Syndrome, each one presents differently. One has dyslexia. Not one of them shows an interest or an aptitude for things numerical. The one that doesn't have a diagnosis of any description (he doesn't need one) is a bank manager! grin

Dawndonna Fri 22-Mar-13 22:37:08


That is fascinating! It is really interesting how things present differently in the same family.

NetworkGuy Sat 23-Mar-13 00:55:02

Marking place as I must get to bed (been up far too many hours)

See that I have a lot of reading to do, to catch up, but have to give a general view that standards have slipped, and while I don't remember being taught much in the way of grammar, and while I hated studying Latin, some of it must have "rubbed off" on me.

Was never very interested in literature, have read very few of the "classics" (or even popular/famous books/authors), but could dedicate 2-3 days on a sci-fi book if I found it of interest, with only the odd interruption such as having to sleep, or eat, or answer a call of nature.

I'm coming up to mid-50s, have been in IT for more than half that, and while I am keen to see computers enhance lives, I consider there to be no good reason to drop standards completely just because someone is writing on a forum, rather than a letter to an employer. Here's an example of the sort of thing I've seen very recently, which hardly saved the poster time, but mean I'd hesitate even mentioning which website it was on, when discussing "useful sites" with friends, relatives, or professional contacts:

"I think it can b expensive if u go over ur £4.50 or make ..."

"I think u r missing my point when some1 just joins up to ..."

I know comments on a forum aren't going to need the preparation or quality of something formal, but come on, while the above sentences are understandable, they look like rubbish from a young bright teenager wanting to appear 'thick'. Fortunately it was only one person who was doing that, and as I know I'm far from perfect, feel happy to overlook spelling and grammar mistakes for the most part, but not descending to text speak!

Right, off to bed before I get much closer to 24 hours awake!

chipmonkey Sat 23-Mar-13 02:42:14

I work with children with dyslexia and other learning difficulties. Bright children who for one reason or another don't read well or spell well. My job is to help them with the visual difficulties; some of the children, however, have difficulty with auditory processing.

What I feel is, that year ago these children were not recognised as the bright, capable human beings they are. They were shoved into a corner of the classroom and it was made known to them, subtly or sometimes, unfortunately, not so subtly that they were not fit to express their opinions on paper and that they might be better to "do something with their hands" which generally meant that they should clean or garden for those with excellent grammar and spelling.

Now, when their IQ's are tested, it becomes apparent that they are as bright or in some cases brighter than those administering the tests. That, shock and horror, sometimes the rocket scientists are brighter than the teachers and pedants and that their contribution to society IS worthwhile. And their parents and the good teachers are aware of this and they don't tell them to shut up and sit in the corner.

So they don't feel embarrassed to post on Facebook and text however they are able to.

Personally, I think it's a good thing.

Hamishbear Sat 23-Mar-13 08:25:20

Chipmonkey it's just as tough not having a high IQ/not being intelligent but personally feeling you want to expand your mind and you are bright and capable and worthy of development too? If you are, to put it bluntly, perceived to be less able (or dim as they called it in my day) isn't it a very difficult nettle to grasp to think a certain glittering career is permanently out of your reach (if you want one) because you just don't have the requisite intellect? Sorry a bit of an aside.

JamNan Sat 23-Mar-13 08:31:30

Just look at this headline on today's Daily Fail website...

Charles Dickens… or the world's worst writer? Blind reading test found 48% couldn't tell difference between literature great and ridiculed novelist

Daily Fail It's so sloppy! I read it for work not pleasure BTW.

LaQueen Sat 23-Mar-13 08:54:48

Dam, I missed all this last night - we had friends call in unexpectedly...and while it was lovely to see them I was thinking 'But...but...there's a really interesting linguistics debate on MN tonight!'

I'm very interested in the talk about dyscalculia. I am very poor at maths, to the extent that the more I try and figure something out, the more is seems to slip through my (mental) fingers.

I am perfectly capable of adding up a coulmn of figures and getting 3 different answers - and, I'm very quickly lost and feel panicky when dealing with numbers. DD1 now does extension maths, which is secondary school level, and when I see her maths sheets I genuinely get a sick rolling in my stomach, and I'm soooooooooo grateful that DH does all that with her.

Yet, having said that, I can instantly work out, say, 15% of something, and know my times tables parrot fashion, etc. point being, because I was so good at English, and other humanities at school, no teacher ever stopped to think I might possibly have some kind issue with maths, and it was just treated as sort of a joke, and I was basically left to struggle and be rubbish.

LaQueen Sat 23-Mar-13 08:55:36

Apologies for the spelling above, I have only just woken up, and yet to have my first coffee grin

Hamishbear Sat 23-Mar-13 08:59:16

I am the same, LeQ, your English was obviously very good (as was mine comparatively- she says modestly) but for some reason there was this HUGE disparity and my Maths was remedial. They just assumed I was dim and I found that school wasn't set up to deal with children like me - we were streamed and I was in the bottom stream. I spoke like an adult at 11 and could write well. A few teachers were utterly bemused and assumed someone else was doing my work for me.

cory Sat 23-Mar-13 09:10:47

I work a lot with older texts and I am really not sure how much abbreviation and textspeak dumbs you down: St Bernard seems pretty bright to me. But I wonder if he or his generation ever wrote a complete sentence without txtspking it in some way. No evidence of it in the manuscripts (MSS).

LaQueen Sat 23-Mar-13 09:13:25

Hamish yep, pretty similar to me, though we weren't streamed for maths. But, I really struggled - it was like I couldn't properly see the numbers, and I described it when I was 11/12 like feeling as though the numbers were skiding off my brain hmm

And, to be honest, for the past 22 years I have just got progressively worse, and less confident - I love DH, but living with someone so consumately gifted in maths (maths prize every year at grammar school, Oxford Open Exam for Maths etc) just makes you feel incredibly inadequate...because he just looks at me with this mixture of poorly disguised confusion/pity/shock when I'm struggling with something numerical hmm

Hamishbear Sat 23-Mar-13 09:34:07

Yes, me too smile

We were streamed rather than set, banded if you like - lower and upper band. Being so poor at Maths I was in the lower band.

MiniTheMinx Sat 23-Mar-13 10:08:12

That makes a great deal of sense to me "feeling as though the numbers were skiding off my brain" LaQueen. I struggled in primary where the emphasis was on mental arithmetic. I couldn't hold the numbers in my head, poor working memory when I had to break something down into various steps to reach an answer. I think this is probably what DS2 is experiencing too because on paper he is fine. New concepts and anything theoretical.....great, easy peasy just give me a calculator for the numerical stuff.

I used to run after school maths clubs in key stage 1 and the emphasis was on fun, so many children in primary struggle because they can't do mental arithmetic they come to hate maths. We taught them short cuts for quick mental maths but also gave them a taste of things like Mobius, topology and string theory with no numerical maths involved and a different group of children flourished.

Hamishbear Sat 23-Mar-13 10:16:29

I've yet to meet a Maths Kumon child that doesn't do very well in primary Maths - even though it's so controversial. Perhaps early speed and agility with numbers can breed that confidence?

NetworkGuy Sat 23-Mar-13 10:24:32

Sorry to read you've a problem with numbers, LeQ, yet clearly (if you can do a 15% calculation in your head, it's more complicated), and can see that with such a DH it kind of 'rubs it in'

Everyone has skills and most have some weaknesses (if they'll admit to them) so don't feel alone - I remember being embarrassed in one of my first jobs when, in a staff meeting of some of the senior managers and the 'upper floor' (it was a bit 'upstairs, downstairs')staff.

I didn't know what a 'non sequitur' was (despite some Latin, which ended with 'unclassified' at O Level), and continued to blunder on while my boss, a slightly stuffy geek (IQ off the scale by comparison to myself) was getting redder and redder, fit to explode (it was he who had wished to silence me or justify my request with a clearer argument when he'd said one of my comments was a 'non sequitur').

I checked later, of course, and wondered how come I was the only one in the room who didn't know... perhaps because at the time, I was the only one who had left school at 16, left college before the end of the course, and found a job on the basis of aptitude (good maths, programming and analysis skills) rather than paper qualifications in something less beneficial to an IT job.

Dawndonna Sat 23-Mar-13 10:54:49

Network What a shame your boss at the time wasn't a 'gentleman', he would not have been so rude.

LeQueen. The fact that you can do numbers in your head would demonstrate that you very probably have dyscalculia. Those with it are not incapable, as demonstrated by the fact that when given tasks to do verbally are more than capable of processing the information given and providing a correct answer. Time to tell your dh that you ain't fick when it comes to maths! smile

The skidding away from the brain thing is very common. Those with dyslexia will often talk about letters not just moving around, but dancing off the page.
Out of interest, do you have an address book and can anyone else use it?

CecilyP Sat 23-Mar-13 10:59:26

What diagnosis would you give to someone who couldn't do number in their head either, Dawndonna?

LyingWitchInTheWardrobe Sat 23-Mar-13 10:59:56

That would be MariusandI, OP, surely?

Are you using the worldwide sample of MN for your hypothesis?

A last question... if you accept that our own spelling and grammar isn't what it should be then why would you have the expectation that the next generation would have improved on it?

These threads are tedious; they serve no purpose other than to do others down.

CecilyP Sat 23-Mar-13 10:59:59

Sorry, numbers!

NetworkGuy Sat 23-Mar-13 11:05:23

That would be MariusandI, OP, surely?

got to laugh ! I only joined MN when I found a thread about London area code being 020 (guess which section of MN it was in...) !

GinOnTwoWheels Sat 23-Mar-13 11:09:32


At work we need science graduates who can write with a good standard of written English for report writing. A typical recruitment process will ditch a good percentage of applications in txt spk or poor spelling/punctuation/grammar shock.

The successful applicant (usually in early to mid 20s) will have a good degree from a top university and often a Masters as well, along with the obligatory string of A*s at GCSE/A-Level. More often than not when set off on report writing, the results are like they have been written by a 10 YO whose first language is not English.

It's got so bad that we now carry out a written test at the interview as it is clear that their Mum filled out their application form. I can't believe how far standards have slipped in a generation. I am 39 and only got grade Cs for English GCSE and even my written English is much better than these new graduates.

cory -ohhh, yes, good point! grin

For people who don't know, what St Bernard (or any medieval Latin writer)'s stuff looks like is pretty much this:'isth'toth.songwihbyitsuniq'dig'ity7sweet'essexcelsallthos'Ihavementio'ed 7anyoth/sth/emightbehe'cebyev/yrightdoIacc+itastheSo'gofSo'gs.

That is the equivalent of lightly-abbreviated medieval Latin, most texts have more funny symbols and fewer actual letters.

(FWIW the text reads 'But there is that other song, which, by its unique dignity and sweetness, excels all those I have mentioned and any others there might be; hence by every right do I acclaim it as the Song of Songs.')

hamish - I always think that too about children (or adults) who're not exceptionally bright, but also struggle with these things. I think it can be really tough to get a diagnosis of dyslexia for a child who isn't very bright, but they need the help at least as much.

Dawndonna Sat 23-Mar-13 11:27:46

Cecily I would say they had a problem with maths, but there are so many answers to that question, lack of confidence, bad teaching etc can all be covered.

There is such a thing as dyscalculia (or dyslexia) that's not developmental (ie., something you're born and grow up with), but acquired after an injury to the brain of some kind. It's interesting to compare the two. There are people who suffer head injuries and have an inability to understand what numbers are basically for. My mum teaches a girl who had some kind of brain injury, and she has had a lot of difficulty understanding how it is that 3+4=7.

OTOH there are people I know who've been diagnosed with developmental dyscalculia/dyslexia whose problems seem to be more to do with working memory - they understand the concept, but don't have the working memory to manage the numbers. I think this is a different activity from the first.

And again there are people who don't seem to manage the symbols but manage the concept and the working memory.

It's really strange but interesting IMO.

My feeling is, wow, I'm not about to judge someone else's SPAG when I know how many ways my brain doesn't cope with things! grin

PhallicGiraffe Sat 23-Mar-13 11:39:56

YABU, I've just seen a 40 year old use 'your' instead of the correct 'you're'.

sieglinde Sat 23-Mar-13 11:58:52

Gin, would it help if science specialists were required to do more writing at uni, as is the case in the US?

CecilyP Sat 23-Mar-13 12:00:07

Cecily I would say they had a problem with maths, but there are so many answers to that question, lack of confidence, bad teaching etc can all be covered.

No, definitely not bad teaching or lack of confidence; genuine lack of abilty. But lack of ability regarding maths and not anything else. The example of dyscalculia I was given was by a retired maths teacher who taught a pupil who couldn't tell the time and couldn't do the maths that most Y2s would make light work, but who went on to do A levels in modern languages. Are you saying that this person just has a problem with maths rather than actual dyscalculia?

Hamishbear Sat 23-Mar-13 12:05:06

Is that a sign of discalculia when there's a huge disparity between what you can achieve in other subjects compared to your ability in Maths? For example I couldn't tell the time until I was about 14 nor could I tell my left from right until I was 16 but I achieved high O'level and A'level grades back in the old days apart from Maths where I was unclassified for both O' level and CSE.

LaQueen Sat 23-Mar-13 12:06:07

Network - thank you smile

I cannot believe your Boss was such an idiot. Grantd, I'm probably one of those people who is never lost for words, and I rarely encounter a word I don't know the meaning of...but, I would never be so crass as to humiliate someone for not being so well read/articulate/whatever...because not only is it incredibly unprofessional (especially from a manager, in a business meeting situation) it is just plain rude.

My own private thoughts, might be very different, but I would always quickly move to smooth anyone's embarrassment in that situation - because I despise that sort of bullying, and hate such unfairness.

LaQueen Sat 23-Mar-13 12:08:08

Dawn yes, I do have an address book, and others use it, fine? What could that demonstrate?

LaQueen Sat 23-Mar-13 12:15:25

Hamish ah, yes, I have ishoos with my left and right...I have to think about it for a second.

But, my O Level and A Level grades were very good (except for Maths). It's very intriguing, isn't it?

Yet, DH with his uber mathmematical brain could study a piece of poetry, and utterly fail to come up with a reason why the poet used a particular line/phrase...and he wouldn't really be able to equate it to another line in the poem, etc. He would see it as pointless and meaningless.

I, on the other hand, can give you 7 different interpretations of why the poet used that phrase/line, without even needing to draw breath.

I can just see it, and it's so obvious to me...other students, and sometimes my teachers/lecturers would look at me like this shock when I was in full flow, analysing a poem/piece of prose, and they'd be 'Oh, God, where on Earth do you get this from...oh, God, actually yes you're right...'

But, whatever it is that I have linguistically, I simply cannot train it, and focus it on anything numerical.

Dawndonna Sat 23-Mar-13 12:17:36

I think it's entirely possible that the person may have had dyscalculia, Cecily. I too cannot tell the time on a digital clock. I can't read prices on shelves, and if I'm tired I'm up the creek without a paddle, particularly with the advent of digital everything. I must be one of the few people that always opts for the analogue clock on my computer!

LaQueen Nobody understands my address book but me, the telephone numbers make perfect sense to me, but don't work for other people, because I've written the numbers down which means they are in fact in the wrong order, but when I read them back, to me, they're in the right order, ergo they work!

LaQueen Sat 23-Mar-13 12:23:23

Interesting Dawn - no, my phone numbers are fine. But, I do admit that I often have to check and double check that the 7 really is a number 7 if that makes sense.

And, if I'm having to read out a mobile number, then my brain kind of slurs it, and I have to be careful.

GinOnTwoWheels Sat 23-Mar-13 14:10:58

Gin, would it help if science specialists were required to do more writing at uni, as is the case in the US?

When I was at Uni (in the mid 90s as a mature student) I certainly had to do plenty of writing, lab reports/essay questions every single week, dissertations/project reports of X000 or even XX000 words (can't remember how many) and written exam questions where the answer would fill 2/3 sides of A4 at least. Do they not do that any more - genuine question?

Meandmarius Sat 23-Mar-13 14:39:21

Just come back to this thread and have spent an illuminating time catching up! Some fascinating stuff here.

I disagree that poor spelling is linked to lack of exposure to reading. Reading and spelling are two completely different skills. Children with poor working memory etc. will find it more difficult to learn to spell correctly. They may be avid readers. Others may read very little and spell very well. Poor spelling is not linked to low IQ. Perhaps believing that it is linked is a sign of stupidity....?

I must say that I'm guilty of believing that there is a link between reading and being competent with grammar and spelling, however this is based purely on my own experience (both personal and peers). Have there been any studies or official findings to prove either way if there is a correlation between the two? Apologies if there have been and, obviously, don't want to cause any offence with this viewpoint but I do believe that there could possibly be a link.

Hamishbear Sat 23-Mar-13 14:49:17

That was in reply to my point (I think) I was speaking from experience. When I was around 9-14 my spelling, handwriting and grammar were utterly shocking and about 5 years behind my chronological age. Think their/there not correct, random capital letters, what looked like careless errors etc. At 13 I couldn't seem to remember to paragraph and words like necessary were utterly beyond me.

My written work (content) was good and showed some flair but the presentation spelling and grammar were very weak. My reading age had always been very high and my vocabulary. From the age of around 6 I had been reading voraciously. Slowly, things got better. I literally ate books reading perhaps 10 or more a week on average. Long books. By the age of 15 something seemed to happen, intuitively I knew how to spell. Since then my spelling has been pretty good, my written grammar not so much but well above average I'd say.

It was as if incrementally my brain had begun to remember how to spell etc. After a while many words would have been viewed thousands of times?

I am not sure if you can grow out of dyslexia? I doubt it. Certainly my ability with Maths has never improved but then I didn't spend thousands of hours on arithmetic?

Hamishbear Sat 23-Mar-13 14:51:17

If you speak to any experienced English teacher they always say their best writers are always those that read.

BadMissM Sat 23-Mar-13 14:57:58

I've always found grammar and spelling easy, almost intuitive. Despite good grades in everything else, I could never understand the point of Maths.

That said, ever since I was a child, I've always had my head in a book!

Meandmarius Sat 23-Mar-13 15:13:15

It was as if incrementally my brain had begun to remember how to spell etc. After a while many words would have been viewed thousands of times?

I really do believe that there's something in this, Hamish. Interesting that both yourself and BadMissM mention an intuition for spelling and grammar and you were both readers. I read a newspaper from around eight years old, family members would try to hide it from me, to attempt to shelter me from the news but if I found it they would always let me read it. I am pretty much convinced that this, along with a love of books, led to me being competent (not perfect, as I mentioned in my OP) at spelling and grammar.

Talkinpeace Sat 23-Mar-13 15:41:58

both of my parents are dyslexic - I'm not ...
my Mum hates numbers, Dad and I love them (I grew up with Mum)

nowt so strange as brains

hamish - you don't grow out of dyslexia, but you do develop coping strategies. I'm dyslexic, and as a young child, that showed up as being very slow learning to read, and then having appalling reading and spelling. But I learned strategies to get around these. My spelling isn't brilliant, but it's not terrible either. You'd expect I'd improve, even if slowly and with difficulty, between ages 5 and 20.

But, if someone qualified tests me for dyslexia, they can still see the same deficits that caused me to struggle with reading and spelling in the first place. Those deficits will never go away. The pattern to my strengths and weaknesses hasn't changed. And, if I try to learn a new language, in a new orthography (like Greek or Cyrillic), I find the same old problems come straight back. I am more aware of what to do to sort those problems than I was when I was five, but the underlying cognitive deficits I have, are still there and still affecting me.

Dawndonna Sat 23-Mar-13 16:04:59

Hamish I hope you didn't 'literally eat books', it's such a waste of a good book! grin

Talkinpeace Sat 23-Mar-13 16:39:24

Book sellers call cheap paperbacks "aga food"

stubbornstains Sat 23-Mar-13 20:18:08

Oh God. A friend practises Bowen technique, and has just produced loads of stickers saying "I've been Bowen'd by X". Give me the strength not to point that one out....

emlu67 Sat 23-Mar-13 21:05:03

I am in my forties and went to a comprehensive which wasn't the best but I don't have any trouble with they're, their, there etc. I worked in banking and could not believe how many senior and very well paid people were so poor at basic grammar, in fact rightly or wrongly it lowered my opinion of them!

When I saw a senior manager email 'in this manor' instead of 'in this manner' I was truly shocked. Call me old fashioned but I think it does matter!

NetworkGuy Sat 23-Mar-13 21:46:54

I've seen similar things (manor | manner) on 'official' websites (the typos I spotted were on a local site, but annoying because the event being promoted was aimed at school pupils!)

Seen today - a news item about the "Grammar Nazis" (their words, not mine)

bumblingbovine Sun 24-Mar-13 09:03:03

I am 48 years old and I don't remember being taught very much grammar at all, if any - I had a late sixties early seventies education. I was always an A student in English yet when I started work after university, all my letters had to be corrected by my boss and I became aware of how little I knew about writing correctly in a business environment. Over time I improved, without using any grammar books and I certainly know the difference between all the words used as an example in the OP. Whether I knew the difference at 18 years old, I can't remember (it was so long ago) but I was certainly making mistakes in my writing.

Fast forward 20 years and I found myself with a 21 year old university graduate trainee to supervise. I also spent a year correcting his outgoing letters and emails which often had the sorts of errors listed in the op. At first I found it frustrating but I tried to remember that my boss had done the same thing for me 20 years before. The trainee improved as had I and he made a very good executive in time. Sometimes I think people forget as they get older what they were really like and what they could do when they were younger.

Of course you can do things more effectively with lots of experience. How surprising is it that a 30 year old who does lots of writing for work has better written grammar than an 18 year old? Not really.

It may be that typing has made people less careful but you need to compare like with like; 18 year olds then with 18 years olds now, not with 30 year olds now and for that we can't really rely on the memory of what we were like at 18, as memory itself is very unreliable.

BoffinMum Sun 24-Mar-13 09:31:00

I've seen mistakes with apostrophes and so on in the transcripts of Michael Gove's speeches. I despair, I really do. There is nothing stopping people reading Lynne Truss to make sure they understand what's necessary in formal communication.

limitedperiodonly Sun 24-Mar-13 10:14:33

YY bumblingbovine Some people's memories are as dodgy as their spelling, punctuation and grammar.

I do giggle at an OP pontificating about falling standards who doesn't know how to use apostrophes and uses The Apprentice Yourself.

76Chalky Sun 24-Mar-13 10:29:33

i think it's the absence of learning gramma correctly at school

I couldn't agree more Fakebook. I think text speak/the rapidity of social media is partly to blame, but since autocorrect, full key pads on smartphones and predictive text became more common social media has moved back to full sentence use. Like you I'm in my 30s and we had next to nothing taught to us about gramma due to the curriculum of the times. I think we see that reflected in grammatically incorrect English use by a large proportion of our generation and the next. It saddens me because I worked hard to make up for the failings of my education and i firmly believe that gramma is vital to make meaning clear. We all make mistakes, but communication suffers when there's no regard for gramma. Here endeth the rant. smile

Meandmarius Sun 24-Mar-13 11:07:18

Oh dear, limited, you just keep on making the same old point in an otherwise fantastic discussion. I've pointed out several times, including in my OP, that my own level of ability is not perfect.

Will this help, dear?
I've noticed you! waves

limitedperiodonly Sun 24-Mar-13 11:24:28

You don't get my point, dear OP.

My level of ability in written and spoken English isn't perfect either. But on the evidence here, it's much better than yours. And yet you're the one criticising the standards of others.

How funny.

Meandmarius Sun 24-Mar-13 11:31:06

limited, I'm not sure you understand my point either but I respect your right to an opinion.

Right, everyone, I'm off for a nice, fat glass of wine
Well, it is the weekend and I always find it helps if I'm a little uptight...

I've seen mistakes with apostrophes and so on in the transcripts of Michael Gove's speeches.

Those aren't mistakes, those are divine retribution. wink

BoneyBackJefferson Sun 24-Mar-13 12:06:23

I don't think that grammar/lteracy/spelling has gotten any worse.

What we have in place now is the means to measure them.

When I was growing up (70s and 80s) there were regular adult literacy classes (for those that couldn't read at all). (they might now be hidden as those that cannot speak any English at all)

In school there were classes for the very low ability where the weren't taught, they collected the town's christmas tree, did the gardening at the school etc.

There are now fewer places to hide these pupils/people

MiniTheMinx Sun 24-Mar-13 12:25:18

Good point BoneyBackJefferson, in the 40/50/60s people left school at 12-14 years of age and went into manual labour where literacy skills were not required. The middle class went into white collar work having either gone through the grammar school system or through small private schools and further education.

Now we are in a post industrial economy in the West and more button pushers (admin white collar workers) are required. Of course levels of literacy need to rise to meet this need. What is interesting to me is that traditionally white collar work is still sold as "middle class" despite falling incomes.

Frogman Sun 24-Mar-13 15:20:32

Boneyback - I'm biting my tongue in response to your post.

limitedperiodonly Sun 24-Mar-13 16:07:11

boneyback I volunteered to teach adult literacy classes because it annoyed me that people who didn't have those skills were disadvantaged in life as well as being patronised by people whose own standards were poor but a bit better.

I gave it up because, though passionate about the idea, I realised I wasn't that good a teacher.

It's more important to be able to apply the knowledge we have, rather than boasting about the simple fact of having it. Or not, as I'm amused and pained to notice on threads such as this.

YY to mini. Where are all these unskilled and semi-skilled jobs? Meanwhile, this thread has shown that lots of people are holding down white-collar jobs with literacy skills I would regard as average at best, while trashing the abilities of others who may have other skills they either won't or can't recognise.

I don't want anyone to lose her job unless she's dishonest or utterly incompetent. But please, let's be honest about our levels of achievement and the extent to which excellence, or anything other than bare competence, is required at work.

BoneyBackJefferson Sun 24-Mar-13 21:17:24

"I'm biting my tongue in response to your post."

Which part?

Frogman Sun 24-Mar-13 23:30:16

Boneyback - for someone to contribute to this topic and then write such a poorly constructed piece AND use "gotten" grin

BoneyBackJefferson Mon 25-Mar-13 06:13:13


bruffin Mon 25-Mar-13 06:32:59

I'm 50 and wasn't taught grammar at school. My Dcs are 15 and 17 and was surprised how much they were taught in primary school. DS had a piece reduced from a level 4 to a level 2 because of punctuation and spelling. He is dyslexic and his friends do pick up on his spelling on Facebook grin.
I would judge bad spelling on a forum because i know predictive text can be a nightmare and it is not easy to type on small screens and was to make mistakes. I don't like textspeak ay all.

SirEdmundFrillary Mon 25-Mar-13 16:50:09

LDR, I apologise.

habbibu Tue 26-Mar-13 16:10:16

Gotten is a v old form. Fell out of favour because of declining standards, I'll warrant.

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