YP Letters: Standards of English in decline

How should this year's exam results be interpreted?
How should this year's exam results be interpreted?
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From: Mr MN Wooff, Henry Street, Keighley.

IT was announced that this year’s A-level results show that boys had done better than girls for the first time in 17 years.

However, I write to ask if anyone can explain what is happening to our once-excellent English education?

Listen to many members of the population educated since 1980 and the standard of English is littered with errors. Over a period of time, I’ve noticed the same basic mistakes being made by people educated in, not just different schools, but different areas. Some of the many people I have listened to have at least one degree. In common with the schools, the relevant universities are scattered throughout Britain.

Surely, secondary schools and universities have a responsibility to correct any mistakes being made by primary schools?

Similarly, if the source of these basic errors is beyond its boundaries, why isn’t the education system correcting them?

Given the amount of unnecessary stress and chaos it already causes in some schools, this situation also prompts me to ask about the point and value of Ofsted.

So far, despite considering British and foreign television programmes, computer software, and other influences, I’ve been unable to identify the source of some of these errors. Perhaps your readers can help?

The following are just some of many examples: “I have spoke to John.” (I have spoken to John).

“You will be took off the system.” (You will be taken off the system).

“I’ll meet you at the train station.” (I’ll meet you at the railway station).

Correcting such errors is important. Correct use of language influences many facets of life, including social development. The English language is an essential part of who we are, and it is our joint duty to ensure we educate future generations to use it correctly.

From: Janet McCulloch, Grosvenor Crescent, Warmsworth, Doncaster.

HEAR, hear! I have been complaining for months about the various garbled versions of the English language we hear on the radio and read in our papers (The Yorkshire Post, August 21).

I had not noticed the use of “so” to begin sentences until the other morning on Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour when several questions were answered in this fashion. There are several examples which annoy me. One is “return back”. I was taught that the prefix “re” meant to do something again so, “return” means to go back and to use, “back” with it is superfluous.

With reference to the credits being squashed up so as to be unreadable when wanting to check a name at the end of a programme, I sometimes pick up something part-way through on the radio and wonder about the person being discussed. At the end, the speaker never says “John Brown who......”

The only programme which does do that is the Last Word on Radio 4 on a Friday afternoon.

Keep up the good work Neil McNicholas. Perhaps we need more grammar schools!

From: Keith Jowett, Barnsley.

THE article about standards of English by Neil McNicholas in your Opinion section very much resonated with me.

He ends his article with a plea for pedants of the world to unite. I am a very willing recruit. To add to his dislike of of TV interviewees starting their reply to a question with ‘So’, I would add those who must begin with ‘Well’. Another favourite hate of mine is the overuse of ‘Oh my God’, frequently used by people who do not appear to have a faith in any kind of god.

Sloppy speech and errors in grammar are even more noticeable when our English language is mangled in its written form.

In reading social media exchanges, I am incensed by the use of such forms as ‘would of’ or ‘could of’ instead of ‘would have, could have’ etc.

Unique among the few languages I understand, the apostrophe is a jewel in the crown of written English. But over and over again I see its use misunderstood, and not just by market stall holders. Pedants should also consider setting up an apostrophe preservation society.

Grayling’s evasive action

From: ME Wright, Harrogate.

IF my life depended on twisting and torturing the English language, I’d want Chris Grayling on my side.

Is there any hope that 
Big Ben’s silence might soon be replaced by the unremitting sound of every Northern MP supporting, not merely their party, but the people and businesses they are supposed to represent?

From: John Vessey, Kettlewell.

FOR goodness’ sake, what is all this kerfuffle about the “the bongs” on Big Ben being silenced (Andrew Vine, The Yorkshire Post, August 22)?

Up here in God’s county, it’s about as relevant as learning that the tide has just gone out in Penzance!

Elements of risk

From: Graham Branston, Emmott Drive, Rawdon.

THE tropical type of weather we are currently experiencing, with warm air, heavy skies, torrential rain with localised thunder and lightning (The Yorkshire Post, August 24), reminds we of an old saying which is still valid ‘Fire, wind and water are our best friends and worst enemies’. However, they do keep insurance companies busy!

Words of wisdom

From: Geoffrey Searstone, Moor Lane, York.

MEMO to Sarah Champion MP and Jeremy Corbyn MP. I can’t remember who said “All it takes for evil to prevail is for good men to do nothing”.

Can either of you help me out?