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Why are so many adults unable to write decent English?

Discussion in 'Personal' started by Doitforfree, Feb 11, 2016.

  1. Doitforfree

    Doitforfree Star commenter

    I've just received a letter from someone in a managerial position in my fostering agency. It is littered with punctuation errors, most of which are very basic and many of which make it hard to understand what she is trying to say. It astonishes me that an adult can have such appalling English, that she's become a manager in spite of it, and that no one has pointed it out to her or made her have her communications checked by a literate person before she sends them out. I'm at a loss to know how to respond. I'm tempted to mark it and send it back!

    Even if she were badly taught at school she is a (presumably) reasonably intelligent adult who could sort herself out. She must not read what she's written before she sends it either, as even a ***** would notice some of the errors. What on earth is going on, that a person like this doesn't think that good communication matters and appears to neither have self respect nor put in any effort? I don't doubt that at primary school she could 'write' in many different genres. It's a pity she didn't learn to expresss herself clearly at the same time, or think it matters. Rant over.
    Middlemarch and finisterre_277 like this.
  2. GLsghost

    GLsghost Star commenter

  3. foxtail3

    foxtail3 Star commenter

    Oh dear!
  4. GLsghost

    GLsghost Star commenter

    I'm absolutely serious! It drives me mad too! :eek:
  5. cuteinpuce

    cuteinpuce Star commenter

    If you have concerns, passing them on to a more senior person would seem an obvious way to respond.
  6. foxtail3

    foxtail3 Star commenter

    It irritates me, but I know how some people feel that it's pedantic to criticise written English. I think it matters, particularly when the meaning is unclear, which is part of what the OP is saying. But we have had some fairly robust debates recently about SPaG.

    We recently received a letter from the customer service manager for our housing development. I scanned it quickly, picked up a pen and corrected the more glaring errors. I stopped short of sending it back though. It wasn't illegible, but it grated that it was so poorly expressed.
  7. xena-warrior

    xena-warrior Star commenter

    More adults my age write with due regard to standard spelling and grammar than younger ones do, simply because it was regarded as important in my young day, and you were made to learn it. Constant repetition, every error underlined in red, corrections written three times in the back of the book. Other subjects marked you down for rubbish SpAG even if the content was correct.

    Then all of a sudden it was prescriptive, square and authoritarian, and creeeatiiiivity was more important.

    When I left teaching, I was told to "balance" every negative comment (e.g. separate, not seperate) with two positive ones, and never correct more than three spelling mistakes per page. That's why people can't write decent English.
  8. oldsomeman

    oldsomeman Star commenter

    I am often criticised for my spelling on here,but it might be good for the writer to read aloud their response before posting.
    Its so nice to realise everyone else is perfect.but in fact many folks are under pressure and rely on spell checkers to correct. Unfortunately they often do not correct grammar. :) I does not astonish me that folks have poor grasp of English..I blame it on the teachers not teaching her correctly! :rolleyes:
    sabrinakat likes this.
  9. Duke of York

    Duke of York Star commenter

    I think you either went to a draconian school or are overplaying the degree it was drummed in. Spelling and grammar were regarded as important in my schools, but not to that extent.

    I think that how good you are at SPAG has a lot to do with how much you read and write and the nature of what you read and write is.

    For example, it's forgivable to make typos and omit punctuation on a fast moving discussion thread where it would be laborious to proof read every post. It's not life or death to make the occasional error.

    It's a different matter when a missing comma or semicolon in a sentence can create ambiguity that leads to financial loss or unnecessary burden.

    I don't mind when professional people, including myself, make fools of themselves on a web forum, but I would consider myself to have failed if in my professional capacity, if I sent any correspondence that wasn't absolutely clear and unambiguous in meaning.

    I've employed youngsters with degrees, whose grasp of written English has been so poor, that I've needed to insist they are not to send an email, let alone a letter on company headed paper before my secretary had proof read it. It's absolutely absurd. My secretary was good, but she never had a qualification to her name, since she came from a generation where they were more difficult to obtain and regarded as less important than they now are.

    What does that tell us?

    I can tell you what it tells me. I wouldn't waste my money on a university education for any of my grandchildren if it turns out that that universities are happy to give degrees for the illiterate.
    I'd give them the money to set themselves up in business along with all the advice they needed instead.
  10. bombaysapphire

    bombaysapphire Star commenter

    I am in my early 40s. I was barely taught any grammar and did maths and sciences at A level. I read a lot and am a bit of a pedant. I don't always know why things are right but my reading helps me to recognise glaring errors. I have worked as an accountant and as a teacher and have often had to help others with their written communication. I would be ashamed if I could not communicate clearly in writing.

    I bet I have made a huge typo now!
    guinnesspuss, RedQuilt and Eureka! like this.
  11. lilachardy

    lilachardy Star commenter

    When I was at school, it was believed that I would learn to spell by reading.
    I didn't very well, and I am aware now that I am poor at spelling.
    All the grammar I know is from learning French and German to GCSE level.
    That's why I like it when people here correct me and explain why I'm wrong!
  12. foxtail3

    foxtail3 Star commenter

    Certainly spelling and grammar was drummed into me at both primary and secondary school. It didn't have the names it does currently, but we knew how to construct a grammatically accurate Piece of writing, with correct spelling and punctuation.
    delnon, monicabilongame and InkyP like this.
  13. Orkrider2

    Orkrider2 Star commenter

    I agree with DoY, that it depends very much on what and how much people read. I was never really taught grammar at school (I had to learn a lot of it as a teacher, when I was required to teach it to the kids) but I've always been an avid reader. I don't read an awful lot of fiction, but I have always read a lot of scientific journals and research papers, biographies, historical reference books, and other, what would broadly in Primary speak be termed as 'information texts'. I think that's given me a better grasp on formal writing than would be the case if I didn't read, or if my choice of reading material was more heavily weighted towards the lighter fiction books.
    On the other side of things, it means that I can only really write formally and any attempts at creative or expressive writing always sounds immature, or contrived or sickeningly twee. :/
    Eureka! likes this.
  14. finisterre_277

    finisterre_277 Established commenter

    A typo?!
  15. sabrinakat

    sabrinakat Star commenter

    I try to proof everything I post here but have a slow phone....

    I cringe inwardly at bad English - I love it when Judge Judy corrects the verbal English, but mistakes in written English are inexcusable (not fora but letters/hard copies)...

    I wasn't taught proper English at school (it was the hippy, happy 70s in the US), but when I started studying Latin, I had to get to grips and fast with English.

    Biggest pet peeves? It's when it should be its (or vice versa) and awkward stupidly written English....growl
  16. Orkrider2

    Orkrider2 Star commenter

    Should of.

    It makes me come over all stabby.
  17. sabrinakat

    sabrinakat Star commenter

    I also hate the misuse of prepositions..... not quite stabby,but very..... leaning towards the knife drawer....
  18. rosievoice

    rosievoice Star commenter

    Off of and gotten.
    It had gotten windy so I jumped off of the wall. I blame the Americans. Stabby doesn't come close!
  19. dumpty

    dumpty Star commenter

    This is an area where I now accept I was and am wrong. I see it as a mark of class and style to be able to write well, not least in applications or when dealing with important matters.

    However, the lowering of standards and the somewhat ' Loony Left' thinking that critiscising a kid's writing might hurt their feelings has led to a quite massive acceptance - expectance even - of badly written letters, job applications and such.

    As this has been allowed to develop over an entire generation, you now have people in top positions reading letters or applications from people with the same bad writing and it just does not bother them in the slightest.

    I now get letters from bank managers, the Inland Revenue and councils etc and they are always written to a level I would deem barely acceptable as a Year 5 child. Add to that an almost total inability to address the question I asked and yes, I now admit I was wrong to ask for higher standards.

    It is too late now. Just give up.
  20. Lascarina

    Lascarina Star commenter

    I hope that I will not be hurting your feelings if I point out that there is a spelling error here.;)
    dumpty, aspensquiver_2 and lindenlea like this.

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