I haven’t read English at University, I haven’t even completed my A-level in English literature yet. But even with only compulsory education English, I know how to read and write.
Children from an early age are taught to look at written words in context to work out what they are, sound things out to spell them. Basically to work things out logically.
I suppose the problem there is that the English language is not always logical (I saw a hilarious news story about a man dressed as a bee outside a spelling bee protesting that English should be more logical). But it is a beautiful language and we really are loosing our first art.
I read a really eye opening article in the Daily Mail -not the most intellectual of papers I know- about a nine year old girl’s workbook. Doesn’t sound so interesting, but then you see, the workbook is one hundred years old. I would have really thought that as time has passed we have got better and better at things that we do. Granted we have become ‘smarter’, but it seems that we have also let our literacy rates slide dramatically.
Now we hardly expect 9 year old children to read fluently, let alone know how to read and write words such as this: ‘refluent, spectral, embargo, weird, shadowy, listless, engineer, gurgling, dissolve, alert, stealthily, leisure, companion, purify and venture’. Now those words are generally only known by upper secondary school on average, but it seems that in 1910 these words were expected of children.
Surely being able to communicate in your own language should be put before other lessons such as Business. How could you set up your own business if you are not even able to write a concise letter to your clients.
One of my pet peeves is misuse of grammar. Especially punctuation. There are very simple rules for punctuation, yet most people fail to use them correctly. My favorite punctuation mark (yes I have one) is apostrophes. They allow us to change the meaning of a sentence using a tiny fleck of ink. Take the title for instance. The arrival of an apostrophe within ‘girls’ changes a flock of pasta loving girls, into one strange spaghetti made girl.
Recently there has been talk of changing Waterstone’s name. Apparently the shop that belonged to Mr Waterstone should no longer reflect this in its name. The loss of the apostrophe would suggest that a Waterstone is a thing, and there are many of them in said shop. Doesn’t really make sense does it.
Anyway, I am sorry about tonight’s rant, but I have been looking on freecycle (if you haven’t heard of this before, you really should look it up!) and the literacy rates on there are abysmal. On the first page was a request for a ‘Chester draws’. Personally I didn’t know that Chester drew at all, let alone his availability for drawing on a voluntary basis.
Computers have spell check for a reason.
Right, I’m out.