Is this the stage we've come to?
Recently we heard through the media that the current younger generation (and I guess they're talking about Y and Z) is the first generation since Australian settlement that is more illiterate than their parents! That's a concern but when I thought about it, I had to admit that I was not all that surprised for several reasons.
These are days of fast text talk and fashionable abbreviations. Sadly, I've seen billboards and magazine adverts with terms such as LOL and ROFL indicating that their writers assume everybody can understand them. When sentences can be shortened to C U L8R, who even needs to be literate in the 21st century? Not long ago, I made the mistake of not noticing that I was reading Face Book news feed on my daughter's profile. Assuming it was my profile, I made a few comments. Emma got really cranky and started scolding me. "Mum, can't you just LOOK! This is so embarrassing if people think it's me commenting."
As everything I'd written was quite pleasant and innocuous, I asked her why it would be such a disaster. Her answer spoke volumes. "Because you use full-stops and commas. You spell properly and put all those little wriggly things around sentences when people talk. I don't want people to think I'm a dork."
So it's become trendy and fashionable to use no grammar and punctuation! In that case, we may be up against a thicker brick wall than we ever expected. If you follow internet forums, you'll bang your head against it all the time. We have to turn a blind eye or we're called "Grammar Nazis." Lynne Truss quotes this film review example in her book, "Eats, Shoots and Leaves."
I watched this film (About a Boy) a few days ago expecting the usual hugh Grant bumbling.. character Ive come to loathe/expect over the years. I was thoroughly suprised. This film was great, one of the best films i have seen in a long time. The film focuses around one man who starts going to a single parents meeting to meet women, one problem He doesnt have a child.
Truss goes on to express her sadness when people who have been taught nothing about their own language spend their leisure hours trying to string sentences together for the edification of others. (And I have to add that this example from Lynne Truss is one of the better ones I've seen.)
I'll always remember when an editor of mine commented that I've done remarkably well with my proper English expression considering that I belong to what she called, "The Deprived Generation." She wasn't talking about Generations Y and Z but Generation X! People who, like me, were schooled in the 1970s and 1980s when schools were beginning to drop grammar and punctuation of the English syllabus to focus solely on literary critiquing. I can remember being taught about nouns and verbs in Year 3 (1978) but nothing after that.
I have suffered for the lack. I find myself turning to grammar guides, thesauruses, dictionaries and the internet when I'm editing work, while I'm sure many older friends and family who belong to Baby Boomers and Builders would not need to. This takes time that I wish I didn't have to use, but hey, at least I'm making the effort, unlike some younger folk from Y and Z who believe that trying to use their mother tongue correctly is corny and uncool.
It makes me very sad. We now see Baby Boomer teachers retiring leaving clueless Gen X counterparts (who don't have much idea) to teach even more clueless Gens Y, Z and Alpha (who have even less of an idea and don't want to know, thanks very much). Is this a case of the blind leading the blind? Where is it all going to end?
I want to finish with this hilarious letter which proves just what a huge difference seemingly tiny grammar changes can make.
I want a man who knows what love is all about. You are generous, kind, thoughtful. People who are not like you admit to being useless and inferior. You have ruined me for other men. I yearn for you. I have no feelings whatsoever when we're apart. I can be forever happy-will you let me be yours?
I want a man who knows what love is. All about you are generous, kind thoughtful people, who are not like you. Admit to being useless and inferior. You have ruined me. For other men I yearn! For you I have no feelings whatsoever. When we're apart I can be forever happy. Will you let me be?
PS - I've been making generalizations throughout this post and apologize if I offend any individual who none of this applies to.