09 August 2006

The perils of poor punctuation

If anyone out there still thinks punctuation is not that important, take a look at this.

A business colleague passed the link on as he thought, correctly, that I'd be amused. I was, and still am.

It just goes to show how absolutely vital correct punctuation is, and how horribly expensive it can be if - to use popular parlance - you fuck it up...

Without wishing to give my age away (and I'm not that old), I was amongst the last of a generation of British school pupils who were taught grammar and punctuation during English lessons. By the mid-1970s, it had gone out of fashion and for the next 30 years the weird belief that children being able to "express" themselves was more important was predominant. As a result, millions of young adults can't spell, don't know the difference between "might" and "may", and have no idea what a dangling participle is. My view is that you cannot express yourself properly if you don't know the rules of your native tongue.

Part of me thinks "why should I care?", because it means more work for me. And yet I do care. If I didn't, I wouldn't be in this profession. And I find it immensely sad that 16 million adults in the UK (that's half the workforce) have the literacy level of an 11-year-old child.

That's an 11-year-old who has been taught English properly, by the way.

Fortunately (or unfortunately, if I want work), grammar and punctuation are being taught again in schools. But it will take another 15 years at least before we start to see the results. And in the meantime, businesses will continue to suffer the economic consequences.

Right, time to get off my high horse and open a bottle of wine...


Anonymous said...

Bit late but... I don't know the source of this so can't give credit for it but it is a cute way to stress the importance of punctuation:

a) A woman, without her man, is nothing.

b) A woman; without her, man is nothing.

wordsmith_for_hire said...

lol, yes, I've seen this before and how true it is!