background preloader

Apostrophe now: Bad grammar and the people who hate it

Apostrophe now: Bad grammar and the people who hate it
13 May 2013Last updated at 04:58 ET By Tom de Castella BBC News Magazine Children are again to be subject to a rigorous examination in grammar. But why does it make adults so cross when other adults break the rules? A new grammar and spelling test arrives in primary schools in England this week. It is the first time in a while that such emphasis has been put on grammar. Some of the questions will seem straightforward for many adults, such as where to place a comma or a colon in a sentence. Grammar is not just an educational issue. The research arm of dating site OKCupid looked at 500,000 first contacts and concluded that "netspeak, bad grammar and bad spelling are huge turn-offs". On the other hand, correct use of apostrophes was appealing. Twist Phelan, an American writer who went on 100 online dates in 100 days and later married someone she met online, says grammar is a vital "filter system". Continue reading the main story Try out the new grammar test The wind blew the sign over.

http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-22403731

Related:  attitudes to language changeSpelling, punctuation and grammarDEBATES

Is good grammar still important? Charlie Higson, comedian and author Language is a uniquely human attribute, one of the things that makes us what we are. We are all born with the faculty to use it and all languages conform to the same basic patterns and structures. The idea that we might need a huge rulebook telling us how to use it properly is ludicrous. Steven Pinker: 10 'grammar rules' it's OK to break (sometimes) Among the many challenges of writing is dealing with rules of correct usage: whether to worry about split infinitives, fused participles, and the meanings of words such as "fortuitous", "decimate" and "comprise". Supposedly a writer has to choose between two radically different approaches to these rules. Prescriptivists prescribe how language ought to be used. They uphold standards of excellence and a respect for the best of our civilisation, and are a bulwark against relativism, vulgar populism and the dumbing down of literate culture.

Chavs, sluts and the war of words Like an expedition to the source of the Nile, any attempt to find the origins of a word runs aground when the trail vanishes into a realm without tangible records: oral culture. As Baroness Hussein-Ece – she who was "trapped in a queue in chav-land" – will tell you, Twitter is oral culture but with records. But words have power beyond their mere meaning. They still bear the hallmarks of the Garden of Eden, in which the language spoken by Adam contained the essence of the thing it described, and so controlled it. Is good grammar still important? Charlie Higson, comedian and author Language is a uniquely human attribute, one of the things that makes us what we are. We are all born with the faculty to use it and all languages conform to the same basic patterns and structures.

Spelling it out: is it time English speakers loosened up? I can’t remember exactly how often spelling tests happened at school – maybe every week or two – but I do remember I looked forward to them. We’d be tested, I’d do well, then I’d feel good about myself. Children who weren’t good at spelling would feel bad about themselves. That’s just how it worked. In some ways prescriptivism about spelling is falling out of fashion. A very concise dictionary of student slang Student slang is a rapidly changing lingo, and you don't want to get caught out during freshers week confusing "hench" with "dench". In the interests of preserving your cool, here's our glossary of well-worn faves. Feel free to add local variants and new witticisms in the comments. Bare Not actually anything to do with nudity, bare is an adjective meaning "a lot of", or "obviously".

Grammar rules everyone should follow The Idler Academy's inaugural Bad Grammar award was bestowed last week on 100 academics who wrote an open letter to Michael Gove in March criticising the education secretary's revised national curriculum. The letter reads at times as if it was written by committee, but does it really display "the worst use of English over the last 12 months by people who should know better"? Hardly. Like many such gongs, up to and including the Nobel prize for literature, the Bad Grammar award looks suspiciously like the continuation of politics by other means. One of the three judges was Toby Young, whose latest book is How to Set Up a Free School; Gove apparently told fellow guests at a Spectator party last year that he'd like Young to stand as a Tory MP. "The 100 educators have inadvertently made an argument for precisely the sort of formal education the letter is opposing," Young said.

They Say You Should Break This Grammar Rule Yesterday, I got into a bit of a discussion in the comments section over the use of the singular “they.” People go into a frenzy whenever you use it, and when you challenge the rule, they cling to it as if their very position in the American Society of Grammar Pedants depended upon it. Let me make my position clear: In situations with a generic singular antecedent, "they" is not OK. Why Slang Is Good For You Today's program puts special attention on language and identity — how they coincide and why those intersections matter. Michael Adams is an associate Professor of English at Indiana University who studies one important intersection of language and identity: slang. He says slang keeps us sharp — and that there is creative value in the creation of new language among different social groups.

Is internet English debasing the language? Not IMHO The internet might be a historic boon for kitten-fanciers and steaming-eared trolls, but it's not all good news. Online writing, you see, is destroying the purity of English as we know it and threatening to dumb us all down into a herd of screen-jabbing illiterates. Or so runs one regular technophobic complaint, the latest version of which has been offered by Robert McCrum. He is worried about what he describes as "the abuse and impoverishment of English online (notably, in blogs and emails)" and what he perceives as "the overall crassness of English prose in the age of global communications". The remedy, as so often for such linguo-pessimists, is George Orwell's essay "Politics and the English Language", about whose loopy prescriptions I have previously recorded my own reservations.

Related: