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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The list omits "rite" and "right"; I am seeing "right of passage" (for "rite of passage") or "last rights" a lot lately, for some reason.

Meant to add this to my post.  I thought you'd all enjoy it. :)

That first one cracked me up!

I have rarely run into an instance where keeping a comma between the last two items creates misunderstanding rather than preventing it.

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).


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