Why can't bright young people spell, punctuate, or form grammatical sentences?

Look, I myself have instances of fumblefingers, and I make typos from time to time. I'm no stickler for Oxford English and I pepper my writing with colloquialisms. I use "ain't" and "gonna" and "hopefully" (which technically should be "one hopes"). Occasionally, I'll even say "anxious" when I should say "eager" (to be anxious is to be suffering from anxiety, not full of anticipation).

However, there seem to be two categories of people who don't know how to spell, to puncuate, or form actual sentences. 1) Hillbillies playing a banjo out on some Appalachian porch or 2) people under the age of 30.

Did the schools stop teaching English? Did it become an optional course in high school? Were the kids skipping class in favor of smoking dope? Is it too much texting? What's going on here?

By cracky (LOL), back in my day we graduated students prepared for college. Today many good institutions of higher education spend the first year bringing the students up to speed on skills they should have learned in high school.

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Yes, whole language was taught.  Cursive is not taught and anything written is fine.  They honestly do not know punctuation, capitalization or sentence structure.  We will use loose instead of lose, watch that one, no one seems to use that correctly.  Of course, this is a broad generalization.  I work with students in all grades at the schools.

I'm actually glad you brought up the issue with cursive. Throughout elementary school (K-4), we were told by our teachers that we had to write in cursive; we had no choice. They would tell us that it was a way of preparing us for higher grades and, eventually, college. It was a way of preparing us and getting us familiar with cursive because we would not be able to just use regular print after the 4th grade...

As soon as I was past the 4th grade, no one cared whether we wrote in cursive or print.

I find myself forgetting how to write some things (especially "I") cursively, because 99.7% of my writing comes by way of these danged computer keyboards.

I think there's a couple of things coming into play. One of which is as you mentioned, the idea of txting and the other is a result of the failed result of No Child Left Behind.. 

Apparently, leaving a goodly number behind. :(

I agree wholeheartedly, the English language as we know it is now a thing of the past. (by "we", I tentatively mean the over 30 age group). It seems we can only mourn the passing and remember it fondly.

My step-mother, who is an eighth-grade math teacher, is having a similar problem with her students and teaching them algebra. Many of the kids don't even know their multiplication tables! The way she explained it to me when I asked her why was that the students just don't feel like it's important or applicable to everyday life. Needless to say, the only thing she feels like she can do is retire, which she is doing at the end of this year.

I'd posit that it is the loss of standards in everyday, common communication in using a more proper form of English that has given rise to a lack of understanding in younger generations for why they should use it.

Simply put, they don't see a reason to give a damn.

I think the idea that people who type with incorrect spelling can't spell is completely wrong.

I know people who, if you looked at their facebook or text conversations, you would assume couldn't spell for their life, but then in exams will gets B's, A's and A*s. It is not an inability to type, but actually laziness, conformity and habit. Whenever i have a text conversation I do it in full English, and usually my replies are the same, but I know that if that same person was texting someone else who used text speak, they would probably reply in text speak.

I think it's incredibly unfair and untrue to claim that my generation can't spell, we can, we're just really lazy

I know what you're saying, and I excuse actual typos, but when someone writes something like "I went to Chang's and decided I didn't like there hot and sour soup" and thinks that's correct, that isn't a typo. Likewise using "For intense" instead of "For instance." That just shows a lack exposure to actual usage. Too much time spent interacting with other illiterates. (And notice, that was an elliptical and incomplete sentence. I don't even object to that kind of informality.)

I just object to writing that seems ignorant and stupid.

Don't do a strawman on me. I'm not saying everything one writes needs to meet MLA standards, just that if the goal of language is to communicate, it has to be based on a language understood by both parties with as little ambiguity as possible, and that means using shared standards of some sort, like common and correct spellings, grammatical sentences, shared idioms, and so on.

Shorthand between family members and friends in a sort of private sublanguage is not a concern here.

Okay, sorry I didn't completely understand your argument. So your problem is when people are trying to write correctly and seem to make grammatical errors?

Just a thought, maybe it isn't that younger generations are any worse at creating proper sentences, but you're just more exposed to their errors. Social Networking is populated, mainly, with people in the age group you described (under 30) whilst older generations are less likely to be found online. I know for a fact that my dad's spelling is worse than mine, and my Grandpa's emails are littered with errors and when I met his friends at a pub many of them say things like 'pacific'.

I don't know if I think that's the actual cause of perceived differences in generations, but it probably exaggerates the problem somewhat.

I grew up with my parents correcting my grammar and word usage.  I don't understand it myself.  It seems that bad grammar has become way more acceptable these days.  You can see it in commercials a lot too.  Most embarrassing, however, are the college athletes who do T.V. interviews for the news and such.  I find it hard to believe, after listening to them, that ANY college would want to be represented by someone like that. "We've got a great team, but we can't make a grammatically correct sentence to save our lives!"  I mean, really?

People are always trying to shorten things.  "Ur" instead of "your" or "you're" drives me up the wall!  Is it really that much more effort to use "to" instead of "2"?  Anyway, it's become acceptable and people don't even notice a lot of times.  With the behavior of students today, the teachers probably can't wait to get rid of some of them and will pass them rather than have to deal with their behavior issues for another year.  That's purely a guess, of course.  If it's accepted by the parents, then why should the kids try to do any better?  The fact that it IS so acceptable has made me more strident against bad grammar.

I can, in some ways, understand the abbreviations when it comes to texting or Twitter because characters are limited. When replying to posts such as these, I see no reason, other than laziness or ignorance, that would constitute using shorthand, with the exception of the occasional "lol" or "brb". When it comes to "there", "they're", and "their", for example, that's just plain ignorance, I think.  "Offenders" were likely taught the difference at some point, but it hasn't been reinforced by repeated correction when used incorrectly, particularly in the case of social networking and texting venues where there isn't anyone to correct them.  That's where they spend most of their time "writing".  I agree, Unseen, that it doesn't count as writing.

I, for one, have continued the "grammar Nazi" tradition with my daughter, as well as my roommate.  I occasionally correct my friends.  A lot of my family is the same way.  We correct each other's Facebook posts all the time and are firm believers in the Oxford comma!  The only thing I can really do is to make sure my daughter doesn't think it's acceptable.

Don't get me wrong. When texting I use shorthand, too. However, texting, even when you're fluid at it, is a helluva a lot slower than touch typing. But there's no excuse for using that shorthand as though it's standard English and applying it to business communications, term papers, and so on.

One thing one runs into extremely often is confused words, like to/too/two. Here are some commonly confused words (source):

    Accept / Except
    Affect / Effect
    A Lot / Alot
    Allusion / Illusion
    All Ready / Already
    Altogether / All Together
    Apart / A Part
    Ascent / Assent
    Breath / Breathe
    Capital / Capitol
    Cite / Sight / Site
    Complement / Compliment
    Conscience / Conscious
    Council / Counsel
    Elicit / Illicit
    Eminent / Immanent / Imminent
    Its / It's
    Lead / Led
    Lie / Lay
    Lose / Loose
    Novel (two confused meanings)
    Passed / Past
    Precede / Procede
    Principal / Principle
    Quote / Quotation
    Reluctant / Reticent
    Stationary / Stationery
    Supposed To / Suppose
    Than / Then
    Their / There / They're
    Through / Threw / Thorough / Though / Thru
    To / Too / Two
    Who / Which / That
    Who / Whom

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