Standards of Literacy

I am appalled by the decline in standards of literacy in this country.

I am not referring simply to the rise of the wandering apostrophe (or 'greengrocer's apostrophe', as it has become known).

I become increasingly concerned by the worrying Americanisation of our language - for example, the spelling of the word 'colour'. And use of the ending '-ize', instead of '-ise'. And then the pronunciation of the word 'schedule'. (If you pronounce it as though it contained a 'k', you have been Americanised!)

But this decline also extends to matters such as differentiating a possessive pronoun from a contraction, such as the difference between "whose" and "who's", or "your" and "you're".

I could go on at some length about matters such as mobile 'phone texting, or 'TXT', as it has become known. It seems that this is increasingly accepted as a de facto standard of written English.

One only has to read an occasional 'blog' or customer product review on the internet to realise that the vast majority of English-speaking humanity is bordering on illiterate.

This is bewildering when one considers the phenomenal rise in pass rates at GCSE and the steady year-on-year increase in A* grades awarded. How can it be possible that more pupils than ever are gaining the highest grades achievable when all empirical evidence suggests that illiteracy has reached epidemic proportions?

It has been my experience that most adolescents communicate (if they communicate at all) via a series of unintelligible grunts. However, our modern education system seems to condone this on the grounds that 'they are expressing themselves'. This kind of self expression should not, in my view, be encouraged.

Where will it all end? It seems to me that it was well said that "We communicate in more and more defined ways than ever before, but no-one has anything to say".

When I was educated, English Grammar was a mandatory part of the syllabus. If people knew a preposition from a pronoun, perhaps they might be able to communicate more effectively.

This letter was not submitted.


©2006 Reader's Doglist Association of Great Britain