Having a background in languages, I’ve been interested to read about the decline in literacy in school leavers and what might be done about it (Letters, 5 December).
I have been increasingly surprised by the number of grammar and spelling errors I find in books (often by well-known writers and published by supposedly reputable publishers) to the extent that in my frustration I have started to write to them to point out their mistakes so that they can put them right in subsequent editions.
For the most part my letters or e-mails have been ignored.
Recently I did get a response from a person who admitted responsibility for incorrect punctuation, and pointed out “I got a distinction in English, but my tutor said I didn’t know how to use commas” (which begs the question of how you can then be awarded a distinction, but never mind).
Part of the problem seems to be that students are apparently told that correct English doesn’t matter any more, as the language is “dynamic” or “evolving”.
This is true but there is a difference between “evolving” and wrong.
Text language is great – for texting. Lazy use of English looks and is unprofessional. With the development of the internet it has never been easier to check points of correct grammar or spelling. There are some brilliant sites, often run by journalists, which I have used when unsure.
To make a difference it’s important that those of us who do care about good standards – in all areas of education, not just literacy – don’t just grumble about it but actively challenge what’s wrong.
(Dr) Mary Brown