Friday, 29 January 2016

Dumbing it down

Hi there and happy Friday!

So we're well into 2016 now - January's almost over already. My mum always said that time sped up as you got older. Boy, was she right!

I turned 50 last October - ha! Imagine that! Well 30 years ago I couldn't, even 20 years ago I couldn't imagine being 50.

But the truth is, I am 50 and suddenly I'm becoming aware of what I used to call the generation gap. I say I used to call it that because when my mum was in her 50s, I figured she didn't understand me because of the generation gap.

Now I'm experiencing that phenomenon from the other side. Of course when I was the youngster I was always right and the older person just didn't get it. Being older and wiser these days, if I wasn't always right then, I certainly am now! hehehe ...!

I've been thinking about this lately though, shaking my head sadly and lamenting the sad failure of our education system. Now, in all seriousness, this is something we really did do better back when I was young. I remember, for example, my English teacher explaining such grammatical mysteries as the split infinitive, the double negative and the correct use of me, myself and I.

Your, you're and yore; there, they're and their - we knew them backwards, they were drummed into us, but not so these days ... apparently.

Poor grammar has long been a bugbear of mine and, in particular, the way it seems to be more and more acceptable - especially among those of the younger generation - to disregard correct word usage. Am I being a fuddy-duddy?

I was alerted to a post I saw on Facebook this week where a mother of a school boy was upset because her son's teacher had set a spelling assignment only to have spelt many of the words in the assignment incorrectly.

As a member of a private fitness studio, I come into contact with a lot of 'youngies' and I'm amazed at how they have no idea about grammar. Even when things are pointed out to them, you see their eyes glaze over with a complete lack of comprehension.

Interestingly, one youngie approached me the other day and asked me for some tips. She wants to start writing a blog and is keen to make sure she uses correct grammar and punctuation. I like that! She wants to learn so of course I'll give her every assistance.

Even better, she told me that she wants to be able to instill the importance of good grammar in her children, both of whom are only preschoolers at the moment but with a mum like theirs, they're already ahead of the game because she, at least, acknowledges that we have a problem.

I am genuinely worried for our future. Stuart and I were at a Christmas function last year and I met a lady - an academic, mind you - who told me that English is too complicated for our younger generation and that we ought to be lowering our standards!

What the ...!!??

The scary thing was that she was serious! Of course I argued that instead of lowering our standards, why not work with these people to raise their standards?

Well, the look of utter contempt on her face was remarkable. I mean - how dare I? We live in a multi-cultural society, she argued, we can't possibly expect people to adhere to all of English's rules. Therefore, we must lower our standards.

Before I became too hot under the collar, I was amused to note that her husband agreed with me! (Small smile of satisfaction.)

This is a problem that I've heard discussed with increasing frequency in the media, and it worries me greatly.

If I were to go to a country where their language was too complicated for me, I would find it ludicrous if that country were to lower its standards to suit my limitations. Who wouldn't? Yet here in Australia that's exactly what we're talking about doing.

Spare me!

So what do you think? Am I wrong? Should we be lowering our standards to make English easier? Should we simply accept incorrect/non-existent punctuation, poor grammar and incomprehensible spelling?

Geeze I hope not.

Until next week, catch someone putting an apostrophe on a word to make it plural, e.g. muffin's. It's called a redundant apostrophe and it's in plague proportions, especially on cafe menus. Point it out to someone and watch the lack of comprehension/suspicion/apathy come over their face.

No comments:

Post a Comment