07 August 2008

Rite, so well orl spel like this in the fucha then...

Yet another mad professor has suggested that we should just accept common spelling errors. Ken Smith is not a teacher of English, or a linguist. He's a criminologist. Perhaps he's come up with this loony suggestion because the criminals he studies have a low grasp of our language? But no, his students have trouble spelling, so rather than try and teach them or correct them, he'd rather just let them off the hook.

It's a sad indictment of our education system. Not only do we no longer teach kids in school how to spell properly and write well, but we let them into university with substandard English. And this crazy proposal would mean standards slipping even further.

I've lost count of the number of wannabe journalists posting on forums, asking how to get into the profession, and displaying the most appalling grasp of the language - saying i instead of I, for example, or using textspeak. And this in a job where mastery of good writing counts for, well, pretty much everything.

I'm not singling them out, though, as their English is as bad as everyone else's in their generation. When I left school, pretty much everyone in my year had a good grasp of spelling and grammar regardless of what career they had in mind, apart from a few undiagnosed dyslexics who didn't get the help they needed.

Standards have slipped so far that universities are willing to let in anyone to study a Mickey Mouse degree, regardless of their literacy level, because they need the government funding. And so we have the situation that semi-literate undergraduates who probably ought not to be studying are, because anyone can do a degree now.

I wonder how Ken Smith's criminology students will fare when they graduate. What will happen to them when they apply for jobs, only to fall at the first hurdle because the HR department took one glance at their badly spelt application form and binned it? If they manage to continue studying, how will they handle submitting research papers? I've often edited better-written English in academic papers drafted by students for whom English is a second or even third language.

I suppose I shouldn't complain. It'll keep me in editing work, after all...

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