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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I agree! I just didn't know until now that it's related to Oxford.

But I disagree with the standard placement of a period within parentheses (unlike in here), e.g. near the end of a sentence (like in here.)

(Am I wrong? I don't remember exactly where I've seen its less logical placement (or its illogical, displacement?).)

( Meanwhile, yes, I am aware that sometimes I use too many of these ( ). )


[And please, take this sentence/paragraph out of context.]

The rule I learned was dependent upon whether the parens contained an entire sentence or was at the end of a larger sentence. I'm not sure I expressed that well. A couple examples might be better. These are two correct placements of periods in regard to parens.

(However, I think Kate Middleton is far more beautiful than her sister Pippa.)

Of course, I think Kate Middleton is prettier than her sister Pippa (but what do I know?).

As I understand it, you're your examples are correct.  :)

Quotes go by totally different rules that quite frankly, make no damn sense to me, but I recognize they are rules and I usually try to follow them unless I think that doing so will positively mislead readers.

A lot of the rules of language come down to "just because" and aren't supported by a body of logical syllogisms. Spelling used to be haphazard, but it became obvious that the lack of standards led to ambiguities, and so we got dictionaries. In common discourse, iusually matters little, but in the world of business, in academia, in law, and in science, being clear and precise is very very important, a concept that is lost on a lot of people who are unprepared to enter a world where a linguistic mistake can have consequences in terms of a lost sale, a bungled order, wasted money, or a lawsuit, which is not to mention being fired or having one's career laying in ruins.

I sold a house once, nine years ago.  The appraisal came in low and my realtor decided to challenge it by writing a letter explaining all the things about the house that made it attractive.  The problem was, he was one of those clowns who uses quotes to denote emphasis.  So my house had an allegedly new roof, alleged central air conditioning, alleged new paint on the exterior, was allegedly clean, etc. etc. to any literate person who read his letter.

I was furious until I figured out what he was doing.  I only hope the purchaser figured out what he meant.  He was the first person I ever saw use quotes for emphasis.  Now I notice it everywhere.

Use quotes for quoting.  Or at the very least, in a sarcastic sense, when you are saying "someone else might say this but I wouldn't."  Like referring to creationist "logic."

Someone was sleeping or texting through English class, if not skipping it.

I'll be checking my writings now to see if I am one of these "clowns". (Please don't tell me. I like to discover surprises on my own.)

That makes sense. Not sure where I saw the illogical placement then, unless I was thinking of quotes (as SteveInCO mentions).

Hi Unseen,
As someone who is under 30, I would like to respectfully inform you that the stereotype in question is not true. However, I, having perused YouTube comments and miscellaneous forums and 4Chan alike, definitely understand where you're coming from. The problem is that many children on these online forums for thought pretend to be older in order to avoid the trolling that happens to younger internet users. 

to address your questions:

I'm fairly certain that 4 years of english are a graduation pre-requisite for most (if not all) Massachusetts schools, and I'm taking AP English next year.

I think those who do smoke dope would probably skip other classes in an equal proportion, resulting in a fraction of my generation being overall uneducated... 

Texting may play some part, but the majority of my friends and I use 90% common English and 10% texting lingo for the sake of efficiency.

I'm not sure about that last statement because I'm not in college yet :P

I am hoping the ridiculous abbreviation in texting declines somewhat as full keyboards (or keypads) become more common on phones.

Every once in a while someone will roll into chat and use "2" for "to" or "too" and "U" for "you" and I just want to snarl at them "Fucking type in English!"

Here are my two cents: You guys should add an ENG099 class and dedicate it solely to teaching the difference between things like "your" and "you're"...

Now I'm not a master of the English language myself, but it's not my mother language either. Isn't it a little embarrassing when some foreign dude is able to correct your grammatical mistakes? Looking at you Ash...

It's not at all uncommon to find people for whom English is a second language using English with greater facility and authority than Americans. I had an Indian roomie for a while at one time and his English was excellent. Mostly, I corrected him on idioms (which he appreciated), for his English was very British. Of course, that is to be expected from someone who learned their English in the British sphere.

Now, to be sure, English is the universal language uniting India, a country which is very linguistically diverse. It is spoken almost everywhere, and is the great lasting gift of England to the country. Even so, for most Indians it is a second language. His primary language is Bengali, but he can speak Hindi, German, and French as well.

Most American kids can hardly use English and may also speak Spanish, given our changing demographics. However, how many kids master foreign languages anymore? And how many kids today bother learning Chinese, Japanese, Russian or Portuguese (the language of Brazil), the learning of which would not be all that hard and would almost guarantee them a job with a decent salary?

So, if anyone is thinking I want all kids to take advanced courses in English, no that's not what I'd like to see, I'd like to see all of today's kids have to take a course in English that they actually had to pass, but not with the philosophy of promoting kids whether they've learned or not. Today's schools seem to be afraid to fail their students.


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