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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Dear Folks:

Writing well is a skill, that needs practice and a little study. I have noticed that my writing skill seems to have improved, as I practice. Most of the email programs seem to not have a spellcheck app. Since I don't normally have a dictionary in front of me as I write email, I can get a little lazy checking myself. Please forgive my transgressions in this regard. If I can 'decode' other people's writing, then I can understand, mostly, their intent.  

Do a little googling and you'll discover how spectacularly spellcheckers can fail.

@ Unseen

" Part of what holds back the black community (as heard on PBS a while ago) isn't racism, it's the view held buy many black students that being good at academic subjects is a "white" thing to do."

Uh-oh....your forgiven....

Yeah, I do make mistakes. I do know the difference between "by" and "buy." It's not ignorance, it's my age. LOL

I make goofs like that more and more as time goes by, especially when I don't take the time to proofread what I write. The ignorant person would make the mistake, miss it in proofreading, and probably resist being corrected.

I knew when I opened the thread that people would pore over my writing for their  J'accuse!  or "Ah ha!" moment.

I love it when I type a creative spelling that would actually work but is wrong; it's like some part of my brain between the part that's composing the sentence and the part that's telling my fingers what to do. is doing phonics experiments.

I just attributed it to your flying fingers --

It seems to be a "pet peeve" for some when exposed to communications laden with lapses in grammatical or spelling correctness. Is it justified or warranted? In the context of an online social forum where we should feel somewhat relaxed, I don't place too much emphasis on such things, and care more about the content of the message. Everyone comes from different levels of educational background. I do not possess a formal high level education and that probably is apparent to some of our members. I do my best to convey my feelings on a subject and hope that improper grammatical structure can some how be overlooked. 

We need to communicate in terms of the other person's understanding otherwise you accomplish little. I live in the aforementioned backwoods of rural America and make no apologies for my friends who play banjos on their front porches. It is unwise to confuse literacy with intellectualism. Being literate does not automatically produce intelligence or even common sense. I can appreciate a well structured sentence complete with spelling correctness but it really is the content of the message that matters in the end. Substance trumps correctness from my hick point of view.

I think the teaching of good language skills is not just a matter for schools, we parents must also play our part and constantly talk to our children, engage them with books, poetry and conversation, not equip their bedrooms to the point where each is a self contained media centre where they no longer have to interact and converse with their family !  We do not have Appalachian Mountains here, in fact we have no mountains at all, but I must come to the defense of Dutch youth who by the age of 15 all appear to be able to spell and punctuate in Dutch and at least one other language (English or German mostly), and all of this in a nation where drug taking is not criminalised ! My two oldest children can spell correctly and construct grammatically correct sentences. My oldest (11) can do this in three languages and my deaf from birth son has a good command of written Dutch and is now learning how to read and write English, it will be another few years before he can write well in English but I think he will make it by the time he is entering his teens. Both schools and parents must make an effort, and parents must support teachers and not undermine them.

Nina van der Roos.


Your children are fortunate to have an interactive Mom. Often in America schools are simply a babysitter, followed by TV and video games at the home. Teachers certainly cannot shoulder all the blame as parental involvement is a key ingredient to success.

Nina, the problem is what do we do when children are being born to the lost generation? The kids whose schools were more concerned with socializing them than educating them are now popping babies out.

We already have the problem of a generation of poorly educated teachers. We're reaching the point where we are losing the kernel of well-educated people to turn things around. I am not optimistic about the future of the U.S.

My own daughter, now in her late 30's, had a learning problem and suffered for it until it was diagnosed and she learned and was shown alternative ways to study. Now she's not only the wonderful mother of three kids, but she teaches in a Montessori school.

So, don't get the impression I'm slamming people who have a legitimate excuse for language problem. I'm slamming the lazy ones who don't have learning difficulties other than that they prefer entertaining themselves to actually learning something. Unfortunately, I can't criticize them out of the (figurative) earshot of people such as you.


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