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Or is the state of written communication really diabolical?

(39 Posts)
drcrab Thu 28-Jul-11 08:53:40

We received a letter from DS' nursery which essentially made us panic and rather angry (about the 15 hours free we get as he's over 3 years old). Anyway to cut long story short, DH went into nursery this morning and before he could even open his mouth to ask the many questions racing through our minds, the manager admitted the letter was poorly written and didn't make sense and clarified immediately the situation. Which made us feel happy. Great.

Apparently the letter was written by head office and she was intending to write a cover letter to explain but didn't get round.

My point is: shouldn't we be worried about the state of English in organizations these days?? It's ridiculous that these letters are supposedly written by educated people employed specifically to communicate information to the public and yet they can screw it up majorly!

The CBI was right about the quality of education we are offering... School leavers who can't write coherently? Or worse... Graduates who can't?

marriedinwhite Thu 28-Jul-11 09:00:23

Couldn't agree more. Especially as I've just completed a tear off slip to confirm I have received a report on my daughter. I have examined her back, her front, her arms and her legs but I can't find a report written on her. I was sorely tempted to strike through and insert about. This, by the way, was from one of the most sought after state schools in London.

TheMagnificentBathykolpian Thu 28-Jul-11 09:06:44

It is true. People are losing the ability to communicate effectively.

The problem is that it is not seen as important. When it is not seen as important - it is lost.

It is important. A comma or full stop in the wrong place can totally change what you are saying.

Some examples I found

A woman without her man is nothing.
A woman: without her, man is nothing.

In conducting annual self-assessment training, providers should seek help.
In conducting annual self-assessment, training providers should seek help.

Watch out – man eating apes!
Watch out – man-eating apes!

You will be required to work twenty four-hour shifts.
You will be required to work twenty-four hour shifts.
You will be required to work twenty-four-hour shifts.

A mispelled word can create confusion.

People shouldn't have to try to work out what you might have meant based on the clues in your words!

marriedinwhite Thu 28-Jul-11 09:17:10

Eats shoots and leaves then!

khaliwali Thu 28-Jul-11 10:27:12

Letter from bank, "please contact myself directly as your personal investment advisor"

Jamillalliamilli Thu 28-Jul-11 10:44:58

The most frightening thing is dealing with social workers, teachers, and LEA officials who can't write a basic report so that it means what it says, especially when it's a legal document and/or has far reaching implications.

EightiesChick Thu 28-Jul-11 10:47:33

YANBU. It is bad in many quarters.

khalwali I hate reflexive pronoun misuse! What's wrong with 'me'? People imagine it's not 'posh enough, I think.

Callisto Thu 28-Jul-11 10:59:45

DH used to interview school leavers for manual labour jobs. Not only was written communication hopeless, some of the applicants could barely string a sentence together and very few had any true enthusiasm or commitment. DH only interviews older people now as anyone under the age of 25 seems to be completely useless.

Of course this would be for children/adults who are not particularly academic, but surely schools should be ensuring a minimum education of the three R's and interview technique.

Having said that, I heard an article on R4 this morning about how a significant minority of children are starting school now who don't know their own name. sad

altinkum Thu 28-Jul-11 11:02:36

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

drcrab Thu 28-Jul-11 11:04:55

phew! so I'm not the only pedant around then! grin

it's shocking really. at nursery, we've heard the 'G, tell mummy what we was doing in the garden today!' shock and when I pointed out that stationary should really be stationery, the keyworker in the room looked confused, and then said 'ohhh we don't really bother with that - it holds the pens doesn't it?'..... hmm

drcrab Thu 28-Jul-11 11:19:16

altinkum well it's not so much that admin don't teach the children (actually, here some of them do both teaching and admin) but the fact that the letter was sent from HQ - so should have been checked before sent out. When DH spoke to the manager, she said that he was the first of 37 parents she was expecting to have to explain the situation to. I mean, what a bloody waste of time for her!

worraliberty Thu 28-Jul-11 11:25:23

When my son was in year 1 he came out of school with a worksheet, asking him to describe his favourite toy.

One of the questions was "How old was you when you got this toy?" hmm

I spun him round and took it straight in to the Head and she went mental at the teacher...who in turn blamed the TA!

Bramshott Thu 28-Jul-11 11:33:30

Seems to be getting worse in written communications too - I have groaned recently at the e-mail shot from a company I received offering me the chance to win a "Bottle of Champaign" and the copy of Primary Times that came home from school proudly crediting their "Cover Sponser" hmm.

marriedinwhite Thu 28-Jul-11 11:39:12

I myself think there is a lot of problems grin. Anyone think a root and branch sort out at the teacher training colleges would be helpful.

drcrab Thu 28-Jul-11 12:19:58

I once took a red pen to the notice at the Boots changing room and corrected the your/you're, there/their and put punctuation where necessary.

Very satisfying.

When marking students' work I seem to have to spend inordinate amount of time on grammar, spelling and punctuation, and not enough time on content!

Insomnia11 Thu 28-Jul-11 12:30:52

Having said that, I heard an article on R4 this morning about how a significant minority of children are starting school now who don't know their own name.

It's not a 'significant number'. It is a problem in very specific areas of the country with a small minority of children. The man interviewed in Wythenshawe, which was identified to be a problem area said the vast majority of children starting nursery knew there own name, but there was a minority who didn't.

Now, I recognise that a minority need help. But don't treat it as a major issue affecting all children.

I should also say that people's grammatical errors now get picked up as most jobs now require vast amounts of written communication - paperwork, in other words. There used to be a lot more jobs where illiteracy was not a problem. Also people are communicating in the written form via the internet a lot more these days.

drcrab Thu 28-Jul-11 12:38:30

yes, but there used to be many more illiterate (or uneducated) people too. Nowadays, the assumption is the vast majority are at least educated to GCSE level (whether they leave with any qualifications is a different matter and thread). The 3 Rs should be firmly in place shouldn't they, even if say their knowledge of science and geography aren't on par??

kickingking Thu 28-Jul-11 12:49:49

Sorry, Insomnia - wtf? Children who don't know their own names?!

Agree about the written communication. I'm a primary school teacher and some of my younger colleauges really worry me. Marking children's work with comments like "You could of gone into more detail about the domestic life of the Victorian's".

I don't understand it as I know grammar and punctuation have been pushed hard at primary schools for at least ten years.

SnowieBear Thu 28-Jul-11 12:55:40

Somehow I feel "diabolical" doesn't quite cover it... I've spotted several spelling and gramatical mistakes in every single communication I've received from DS' school. I hit my personal rock-bottom when even his end of year report (YR) suffered from the same affliction.

"Him self" - anyone?

thebeansmum Thu 28-Jul-11 13:07:50

drcrab, I love you! Re the Boots/red pen tale. Would have paid to have been there. One of my favourite bank-isms, especially call centres, "Is there anythink else we can do for yourself today"

The worry for me is, as another poster mentioned, a chunk of society seems to feel it is of little consequence if things are spelt wrongly, awful grammar and apostrophes being used incorrectly. The 'oh well, you know what we mean' brigade.

I'm starting to sound boring now, so no, YANBU!

Callisto Thu 28-Jul-11 13:13:14

Insomnia - perhaps you should re-read my post before you get on your high horse. I called it a significant minority, which it is. Nowhere did I say it was a major problem that affects all children. hmm

Also, Frank Fields identified children who were starting school who didn't know their own name, which was how the article started.

PhilipJFry Thu 28-Jul-11 13:22:58

This is going to sound silly but I worry about the state of my own spelling and grammar all the time. I used to read and write a ton when I was younger but now there's less time for it and I feel like all the knowledge is slowly slipping away. To comma or not to comma is always a big issue for me blush Anyone else feel the same way, or is it just me?

corygal Thu 28-Jul-11 13:24:09

You're right - literacy levels are grim out there.

What gets me is that most people dismiss the issue as something only a pedant would complain about (see above) - but there's nothing trivial about being stuck on the minimum wage because you're too illiterate to get promoted or being ripped off because you can't read the leaflet that comes with a loan.

Low literacy causes huge amounts of personal misery and poverty - not to mention everyone who ends losing out on the finer things in life eg a cracking book or satisfaction from a letter of complaint. It's a big deal - it matters more than a missing comma ever can.

Mind you, missing commas are part of the problem in that they're the thin end of the wedge (secret pedant at work).

Callisto Thu 28-Jul-11 13:26:32

Incorrectly placed Commas and apostrophes worry me too, and never more so than when I am posting on MN.

Callisto Thu 28-Jul-11 13:27:04

And random capital letters are very troubling...

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