Future English & Future Britain

The state of education across the world

Re: Future English & Future Britain

Postby Gavin » 15 Sep 2012, 07:30

I'm doing a lot of reading and typing some of my posts on a Google Nexus 7 tablet now. This is a superior device in my judgement. I have used various Apple offerings and previously owned another Android tablet. This is a whole different build quality and I can really recommend it (also above Kindle Fire, because this is more open).

Anyway, this device even supports speech to text conversion. This works pretty well with my voice but it occurred to me that the gross degeneration of English these days must present an increasingly difficult challenge for programmers. I don't know how these devices can be expected to understand people when it can be difficult even for us humans to do so!
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Re: Future English & Future Britain

Postby Gavin » 02 Oct 2012, 21:58

I thought I would post here an e-mail I have just been sent:

Dear Gavin,

I have been informed of your kind enquiry into possibly holding events here in the Cotswold’s, and I would welcome the opportunity to discuss any requirements that you may have in the future. I would be delighted to show you around any of our venues, and perhaps talk over any possible ideas that you may have over lunch?

Please do let me know your thoughts.

With kindest regards


Well, the first thing to note is this e-mail was uninvited. I had already concluded matters some time ago on the phone. Secondly, of course, I am addressed by my first name. Thirdly, he oddly says my enquiry was "kind" when it wasn't at all, it was just a business enquiry.

Next, the man (a senior member of staff, I am told) puts a comma in the wrong place and he wrongly uses the possessive form of the Cotwolds (a beautiful part of the UK). He's in the tourist trade, then, but doesn't know the name of the area in which he works.

Following this he tries to turn a standard statement into a question, by affixing a question mark to the end. The "with kindest regards" is a slightly strange way of putting things, too.

Now I'm being a little pedantic here, perhaps - but the man is senior in his company and it is his job to write letters! He's probably on a lot more money than I am, and I could have written it better myself! As I think I have mentioned, I'm not going out a great deal or corresponding much at the moment - otherwise I would probably be able to provide an example like this every day.

What concerns me now is that we have a situation in which even employers do not know how to speak or write properly, so they may not recognise or respect the skills in others, including prospective employees. Even if they did recognise the skills, they might resent them, as we have a culture of such downward aspiration.

Fellow forum members, some of us may be unemployable, not only because of our views (which may perhaps broadly be described as intelligent conservatism), but also for speaking and writing too well (and of course, I don't claim to be anywhere near the same level as somebody like TD!). Hopefully I won't have any job interviews coming up any time soon, or it may be time to pretend again.

"Do you like X Factor?" -Yes
"Do you support multiculturalism?" -Yes
"Do you support feminism?" -Yes
"Do you like Labour?" -Yes


We've got to try to be proud in our refusal, but it's hard in such a dumbed down society where even if the questions aren't explicit, they're implicit, and where answers perceived as "snobbish" can lead to social alienation and - by extension - possible professional alienation too.

The only way I have circumvented this so far in my life is to have a technically skilled job (programming), rendering these so-called "people skills" less important. So it isn't PR or some kind of bureaucratic job. If I can I'm going to try to keep things that way, but I'm going to try to be as honest as I can be about my views too if those subjects crop up.

In case you couldn't tell, I'm sick of the dumbing down and the intolerant tyranny of the Left.
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Re: Future English & Future Britain

Postby Michael » 02 Oct 2012, 23:32

We've got to try to be proud in our refusal, but it's hard in such a dumbed down society where even if the questions aren't explicit, they're implicit, and where answers perceived as "snobbish" can lead to social alienation and - by extension - possible professional alienation too.


This is part of why I decided to become a freelancer (the other parts are enjoying being my own boss and the potential for a high rate of pay). My contacts with clients are strictly professional, and we need to learn nothing about each others tastes or interests. Also, the vast range of potential clients means that I need never be dependent on a boss I need to please, or coworkers whose views I must pretend to agree with.
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Re: Future English & Future Britain

Postby Elliott » 11 Oct 2012, 09:43

I just read an online comment that began like this:

To be fair, isn't half of the lefts icons...


The "cognitive load" created by two errors within that small amount of text made me switch off and jump to the next comment. It was only then that I realised what had happened, and I went back to this comment and identified the errors.

I think the effect is that subtle. Reading bad English, you are subconsciously aware enough of its problems that you know reading it is going to be hard work.
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Re: Future English & Future Britain

Postby Elliott » 11 Oct 2012, 13:46

Here is a fairly standard defence of illiteracy from an online comment thread:

I find it very ironic that many of the prigs of the old 'grammar nazi' school still exhort many writers who often employed inconsistent variations in their grammar and words(Shakespeare), often devised entirely new words and synthesised words together to try and express a specific idea or concept(Joyce) and quite often do not recognise that the change in grammar which naturally occurs is just the evolution of the language in the same way that our current version of English originates from a transmuted version of Anglo-saxon/quasi Germanic English which Chaucer might have used. Such men stifle the natural progression and organic progression of language as it adapts to describe and delineate the ever changing world we reside within.


I asked, using an example from the article:

How does "should of" better describe and delineate the ever changing world we reside within than "should have"?


No reply yet, of course.

We could extend my question to all sorts of grammatical errors...

"Then" instead of "than" is a new one that has exploded lately (I wasn't even aware of it when I wrote the OP, yet it is now inescapable)... does it enable us to better describe the world?

How about writing "your" or "ur" instead of "you're"... a more accurate delineation of modern society?

What about the endless confusion between "there", "their" and "they're"... does this capture the subtleties of 21st century life?

And how about the diarrhoetic use of commas which destroys sentence structure, impedes clarity and disposes of consideration for the reader? Is this a gift for people trying to communicate in the year 2012, that simply wasn't needed in 1912?

I could go on, but will relent.

The fact is, it is sheer wishful thinking to say that, if grammar evolves, the evolution must be inately married to social evolution, and be a faithful representation of that society, and allow better recording of that society. But to liberals, all is for the best in the best of all liberal worlds. If it looks like illiteracy, laziness, poor education and ignorance, it is actually utopia in disguise.

PS. I do agree with the comment's author that the invention of new words is nothing to be scared of, but that is really not what we're talking about when a middle-class teenager doesn't know the difference between "were" and "where".
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Re: Future English & Future Britain

Postby Gavin » 11 Oct 2012, 15:02

Indeed, these writers are ignorant of the rules and their mistakes (which is what they are) do not enhance the accuracy of their communication at all. More often, they obscure it.

Furthermore, people such as Shakespeare and Joyce (though I am not as keen on Joyce) understood the rules they were breaking and could easily use correct English if they chose to do so. Modern speakers cannot. Thus, these liberals are celebrating a dumbing down of the nation and a loss of semantic accuracy.

While on this topic, allow me to mention a particular irritation I have seen in formal letters quite recently: "In regards to". Very annoying - wrong in several ways. It's "With regard to"!
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Re: Future English & Future Britain

Postby Mike » 23 Oct 2012, 00:07

Gavin wrote:Furthermore, people such as Shakespeare and Joyce (though I am not as keen on Joyce) understood the rules they were breaking and could easily use correct English if they chose to do so. Modern speakers cannot. Thus, these liberals are celebrating a dumbing down of the nation and a loss of semantic accuracy.


Exactly. It's done for effect in context, not as a suggested change. This doesn't, however, prevent this from being a highly seductive straw-man argument for the linguistic relativist posers:



A friend of mine on another forum directed me to that one. All through it, a thoroughly un-Dalrymplean six-letter word beginning with W was coursing through my mind with relation to Mr. Fry. And it wasn't "writer".
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Re: Future English & Future Britain

Postby Elliott » 23 Oct 2012, 01:05

That's just the sound of a man giving up on his civilisation.
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Re: Future English & Future Britain

Postby Damo » 28 Oct 2012, 15:37

Mike wrote:A friend of mine on another forum directed me to that one. All through it, a thoroughly un-Dalrymplean six-letter word beginning with W was coursing through my mind with relation to Mr. Fry. And it wasn't "writer".



Waiter?
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Re: Future English & Future Britain

Postby Michael » 28 Oct 2012, 17:14

Mike wrote:
A friend of mine on another forum directed me to that one. All through it, a thoroughly un-Dalrymplean six-letter word beginning with W was coursing through my mind with relation to Mr. Fry. And it wasn't "writer".
'

Walrus?
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Re: Future English & Future Britain

Postby Caleb » 29 Oct 2012, 04:47

Worzel?
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Re: Future English & Future Britain

Postby Mike » 29 Oct 2012, 06:40

You're all wrong...it was Wizard, of course! ;)
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Re: Future English & Future Britain

Postby Elliott » 02 Nov 2012, 03:00

Here's a clanger I've never seen before: somebody spelling "amount" like this...

ommount


Oh dear!
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Re: Future English & Future Britain

Postby Gavin » 22 Dec 2012, 18:53

I have mentioned a few times that I've been working my through the 26 part benchmark documentary series The World at War, which was made by independent television in 1973 and narrated by Sir Laurence Olivier. I recommend it very highly.

One of the most striking things while watching this was the exemplary English spoken by just about everybody interviewed. From foot soldier to Lord, they all spoke far, far better English than most people do today. This is not surprising, of course, given the abysmal situation that has already been so well catalogued in this thread.

I wanted to provide an example. This is from the last episode. This is a previous Director-General of the Imperial War Museum, Dr Noble Frankland. He is from a time when Britain was proud of itself rather than ashamed of itself. He is quite frankly from another world.



Not only is what Dr Frankland saying here very un-PC, but so is the way he says it: in extremely good English. Look at his clothing too - he is impeccably turned out. He would be ridiculed today, seen as unsuitable for the role, inaccessible, etc.

Dr Frankland served as a navigator in RAF Bomber Command, winning a Distinguished Flying Cross. The current Director-General of the Imperial War Museum is, I need hardly add, a woman. You know how keen women usually are on military history, after all.
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Re: Future English & Future Britain

Postby Paul » 22 Dec 2012, 19:14

Great series indeed.

I do remember when they first came on TV in the 1970s. Wednesday evenings I think, about 8pm. Mid-evening TV and obviously watched by children too, except the very young. You knew it was serious television rather than entertainment but most juniors (boys I suppose) watched it. I was always grimly fascinated by the changing still images during the credits, which culminate in flames with a hollow, almost skull-like face within.

I think they may have been repeated once more in the late 70s, but aren't sure about that. A friend of mine purchased the entire set on VHS video some time in the 1980s, for a not inconsiderable sum. How marvellous, because he eventually lent them all to me.

I have caught sight of a few of the episodes again in the last few years, sporadically and in no order. The DVD set is now probably well worth the purchase.
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