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Students Failing Because of Poor Grammar

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the end-thats-inn-kanada dept.

Education 1343

innocent_white_lamb writes "30% of freshman university students fail a 'simple English test' at Waterloo University (up from 25% a few years ago. Academic papers are riddled with 'cuz' (in place of 'because') and even include little emoticon faces. One professor says that students 'think commas are sort of like parmesan cheese that you sprinkle on your words.' At Simon Fraser University, 10% of students are not qualified to take the mandatory writing courses."

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unpossible (5, Funny)

MilkyTea (1038646) | more than 4 years ago | (#30979798)

Me fail English? That's unpossible.

Re:unpossible (5, Insightful)

jo42 (227475) | more than 4 years ago | (#30979894)

Some say, that Idiocracy [imdb.com] was a documentary sent back from the future. And that The Man needs a dumbed-down populace to keep the likes of Walmart and the current political system in business. All we know is that popular culture emphasizes dumbness over intelligence. Welcome to 2010.

Re:unpossible (5, Insightful)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 4 years ago | (#30979970)

Some say, that Idiocracy was a documentary sent back from the future

Other than having electrolytes, you know what the scariest thing about Idiocracy is? Every year that passes since it's release, that future seems not only more possible, but more probable.

My fiance thinks the future will be a combination of Wall-E and Idiocracy, but whatever...it's not looking good -_-;;

Re:unpossible (5, Funny)

Corporate Drone (316880) | more than 4 years ago | (#30980092)

Some say, that Idiocracy was a documentary sent back from the future

Other than having electrolytes, you know what the scariest thing about Idiocracy is? Every year that passes since it's release, that future seems not only more possible, but more probable.

My fiance thinks the future will be a combination of Wall-E and Idiocracy, but whatever...it's not looking good -_-;;

What's really fun about these two comments is that each contain the sort of error that TFA references: "Some say, that Idiocracy" (parmesan comma) and "since it's release" ('its', the 3rd person singular possessive pronoun, does not require an apostrophe). (I'll overlook the emoticon, since this isn't a formal paper, so I would argue it's less inappropriate here.)

Re:unpossible (5, Funny)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 4 years ago | (#30980156)

AUGH! Man...normally I'm such a nazi about "its" and "it's"...I feel horribly stupid for screwing that one up :-(

(oh noes! emoticon!)

Really? (5, Insightful)

Wrexs0ul (515885) | more than 4 years ago | (#30980064)

This XKCD comic [xkcd.com] was made just for you.

There's no global dumb-people-breeding conspiracy and every one of these kids has the ability for higher learning. The sad fact is there's a growing percentage that's never had to try in an education system where no-one fails.

Why learn proper english when the alternative nets you the same result and more free time?

-Matt

Re:unpossible (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30979900)

When I grow up, I'm going to Bovine University.

Gas problems (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30979912)

Is there a problem with the gasses they use? Maybe they need more vinegar?

Re:unpossible (4, Informative)

Potor (658520) | more than 4 years ago | (#30979988)

The article fails basic orthography. It's the University of Waterloo, not Waterloo University ...

The test mentioned in the article places students in one of a graduated series of writing courses (at least it did in 1987, when I went there).

And now, a professor in Pennsylvania, I get papers riddled with "cuz", "u", and God knows what else.

LOL (0, Offtopic)

fridaynightsmoke (1589903) | more than 4 years ago | (#30979804)

LOL i red this, coz I iz gud, at ritin english init, there all morans ROFL

Re:LOL (5, Funny)

oodaloop (1229816) | more than 4 years ago | (#30979834)

tl;dr

Re:LOL (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30980160)

I are a College student:>!

Oh, no... (5, Funny)

demonlapin (527802) | more than 4 years ago | (#30979810)

I'm usually a grammar and spelling Nazi, but this thread invites the Nerdpocalypse. May God have mercy on our souls.

Re:Oh, no... (1, Funny)

Critical Facilities (850111) | more than 4 years ago | (#30979998)

OK, I can't resist, I'll start us off. From TFA:

"Thirty per cent of students who are admitted are not able to pass at a minimum level," says Ann Barrett, managing director of the English language proficiency exam at Waterloo University.

AHHHH!!!! It's percent not per cent!!

Re:Oh, no... (4, Interesting)

jackharrer (972403) | more than 4 years ago | (#30980048)

You know what is the most terrifying?
I'm a foreigner in England and found that I know grammar and spelling better than most of my English friends. We're talking about people who passed through basic education system here, and at least half of them also through higher studies.
If you ask them about grammar, apostrophe rules or spelling they will just say they never studied this. Nobody ever though them this. Then you wonder why all this is in total shambles.

Problem is that all kids are prepared to pass those stupid tests and outside them they know jack shit. There are exceptions, but general population is similar to Idiocracy one.

Re:Oh, no... (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30980084)

I moved to the states from Norway as an 8 year old. I would regularly get teased and bullied for my proper grammar and spelling. My teacher even told me off once, because I pointed out that it's spelled "weird" not "wierd". She wouldn't believe me.

I blame the LOLCATs (4, Funny)

ACK!! (10229) | more than 4 years ago | (#30979814)

Its a basement cat conspiracy I tell you!

And this is how we die (4, Interesting)

QuoteMstr (55051) | more than 4 years ago | (#30979816)

At this point, is our decline even reversible? I could draw some parallels with history (as I have in past posts) --- but what would be the point? We'll just have more people argue that education is worthless [slashdot.org] , or say how it's all the fault of teachers' unions, or argue that we need more charter schools.

So, we point fingers, scream, and ape talking points while our society crumbles around us. What's the point?

We're already the laughingstock of the world; the next generation actually looks worse than the boomers do, and that's an accomplishment. Screw this: I'm getting out. There must be some place in the world that welcomes those Americans who manage to not be complete morons.

Re:And this is how we die (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30979860)

Screw this: I'm getting out. There must be some place in the world that welcomes those Americans who manage to not be complete morons.

I've been living in Germany for almost two years now, and it's pretty neat. Good health care, almost-free (200 Euro per semester) universities, crazy cool people in Berlin. Unemployment is slightly higher than the US, but whatevs, I'm happily employed with a tiny but successful software company for the foreseeable future.

Re:And this is how we die (4, Informative)

data2 (1382587) | more than 4 years ago | (#30979908)

Disclaimer: I am German. While we have our own share of problems, I like living here but the one year I lived in the US I liked that, too.

Just one minor inaccuracy: the cost for university depend on where you live, and can range from 0-500 Eur + fees per semester. (I pay around 600)

Re:And this is how we die (1)

barzok (26681) | more than 4 years ago | (#30980008)

Just one minor inaccuracy: the cost for university depend on where you live, and can range from 0-500 Eur + fees per semester. (I pay around 600)

At the current exchange rate, that's about $835.

Unless the fees are more than tuition, that's roughly half what US community colleges (cheapest way to get into college in the US) charge for a semester.

Re:And this is how we die (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30979872)

Isn't Waterloo University in Canada?

Re:And this is how we die (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30979930)

No, it's in Sweden. That group from Sweden in the '70s sang about it -ABBA.

Re:And this is how we die (1)

sa666_666 (924613) | more than 4 years ago | (#30979882)

Actually, this article is talking about universities in Canada, not the US. Although I feel the same way you do, and I'm embarrassed to be a Canadian after reading this.

Re:And this is how we die (1)

QuoteMstr (55051) | more than 4 years ago | (#30979948)

True, but from what I've seen, Canadians are only in marginally better shape than the US. Britain is in much the same boat too, actually, with its rampantly anti-intellectual youth culture and nascent police state. It's a problem, really, that seems to afflict the entire English-speaking world. (Or maybe the entire West, but I'm not qualified to say.)

Re:And this is how we die (4, Insightful)

alen (225700) | more than 4 years ago | (#30979890)

as long as i can remember, the next generation has always looked worse than the previous generation. mostly because they did thing differently. generation X was said to be lazy 15 years ago because they sat around with their computers all the time instead of working in a factory

Re:And this is how we die (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30979952)

Actually... I do fault the teachers unions... They have kept really shitty teachers teaching and keeping standards testing to be implemented for hiring and continued employment of teachers. I recall my second grade teacher pronouncing chameleon as "cham-a-lon". It wasnt until a very well educated and world traveled substitute teacher corrected us did we understand that much of what our teacher was teaching us was just wrong.

It's sorta odd. Grammar checking is enabled by default in MS word. Do kids just ignore it?

Re:And this is how we die (1)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 4 years ago | (#30980036)

Actually... I do fault the teachers unions... They have kept really shitty teachers teaching and keeping standards testing to be implemented for hiring and continued employment of teachers. I recall my second grade teacher pronouncing chameleon as "cham-a-lon". It wasnt until a very well educated and world traveled substitute teacher corrected us did we understand that much of what our teacher was teaching us was just wrong.

I wouldn't entirely fault the teachers unions (although I do agree that they keep bad teachers employed). Much of the blame can rest squarely on standardized testing (which, in turn, can primarily be blamed on No Child Left Behind.)

Look, I know they need some way to measure things, but kids in different parts of the country aren't all the same. Oh, and requiring kids with special needs to take standardized state tests is just stupid. That's right; special needs kids take the same MSAs that "normal" kids take...and their score counts towards the school average. This wouldn't be a problem if the school's average score wasn't a determining factor in their fucking budget for the following year.

It's sorta odd. Grammar checking is enabled by default in MS word. Do kids just ignore it?

Unless something major has changed in the past couple of years, I generally tell people to ignore grammar checking in Word. Spell checking is fine, but the grammar check is an unmitigated disaster.

Re:And this is how we die (0, Flamebait)

navygeek (1044768) | more than 4 years ago | (#30980168)

Much of the blame can rest squarely on standardized testing (which, in turn, can primarily be blamed on No Child Left Behind.)

Right. Because standardized testing didn't exist before NCLB... I remember growing up in Michigan and having to take the MEAP (a standardized test) every few years and that was WELL before NCLB. But sure, feel free to hoist all the blame where it doesn't belong.

Re:And this is how we die (4, Insightful)

Trepidity (597) | more than 4 years ago | (#30980148)

So it's a bit of a cheap shot, but I can't help but quoting this sentence from your post, which later on complained about grammar:

They have kept really shitty teachers teaching and keeping standards testing to be implemented for hiring and continued employment of teachers.

As for the substantive point, I think the lack of good teachers is a bigger problem than a surplus of bad ones. It isn't like there's a long line of great teachers who are unable to find jobs, sitting impatiently behind this mass of horrible teachers that the union won't let us fire. Teaching is simply not a profession that attracts the best minds, for a mixture of reasons that mostly involve its relatively low status, relatively low pay, and poor working conditions (K-12 education is as much babysitting as teaching).

Re:And this is how we die (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30979992)

You need to relax and do your best.. This is more anti American propaganda and I'm entirely against it.

We continue to create things that benefit the world, even though the world is against us.
How many of these 'teachers' are liberal asshats? which is a factor
in this too..

How many of these teachers secretly hate America? I had a math teacher
that I almost punched out because of his anti America rhetoric. I had him
running down the hallway.. What a god damn coward.. My meeting
with the dean was very colorful.. I will always be American in heart and mind.
This is what a true American should be, not some doubting, shitty work ethic
cowardly loser. Or an America hater like many of the jerks on this site.

Americans do your best and give the bird to anyone that doubts your
talents or cerebral gifts!!

Re:And this is how we die (4, Insightful)

QuoteMstr (55051) | more than 4 years ago | (#30980126)

I am an American, you neanderthal. How likely is it that I'm just spewing anti-American "propaganda" for propaganda's sake? It's rather telling that you'd rather hear good news than reality: when you see that happen, you know a company or organization or country is not long for this world.

I indict this nation because I love it, or more specifically, I love the ideas it was founded on, and what I've read it used to be like. What I resent is that I was born a generation too late to appreciate that cultural flowering, and that I'm around to see morons like you squander what should have made us the happiest, wealthiest, most enlightened people to have ever lived.

Fuck you.

Re:And this is how we die (5, Funny)

russotto (537200) | more than 4 years ago | (#30980114)

There must be some place in the world that welcomes those Americans who manage to not be complete morons.

Try Australia; they'll welcome anyone who passes their entrance exam, which simply consists of subduing a crocodile with your bare hands.

Atlas Shrugged (cuz he could! LOL!! ;)) (1)

RobotRunAmok (595286) | more than 4 years ago | (#30980118)

It's death by Twitter: "I'm such a self-absorbed, self-promoting whore that I will text total strangers my every waking thought (such as they are...) but I will do it in such a way as to be illegible to anyone with better than an 8th grade education."

Personally, I'd have preferred lead in the goblets or a Barbarian invasion, but I guess one does not get to choose these things...

Re:And this is how we die (0, Flamebait)

twostix (1277166) | more than 4 years ago | (#30980136)

That post wasn't arguing that education is worthless.

Just that American Colleges have become little better than online degree mills.

All a degree says for at least 70% of people now is that they may be suitably qualified for some sort of middle class, white collar office job that involves pushing paper around, going to meetings and being stereotypically ironic and "witty" on facebook, bebo, etc.

Nothing more, nothing less.

Out of the other 30% maybe 10% become doctors, 10% become (surplus and now unwanted) engineers and 10% actually push things forward via research.

The 70% lives on the backs of the 30%, farmers, blue collar workers and small business men.

This will of course go down very well here, in a place absolutely full to the brim of the 70%.

Language evolves with how people use it... (-1)

blahplusplus (757119) | more than 4 years ago | (#30979824)

... and speak it. The so-called "misuse" of grammar is kind of idiotic given that language is invented and grammar changes naturally over time.

Try reading a really old king james version of the bible. It's still "english" and the 'grammar' may be correct but you don't speak like that and it's not necessarily 'english' you'd recognize as how you think or speak in your own voice.

Let's also face facts there are many problems with the english language in general that don't make much sense at all from the way you pronounce a vowel or word and the way it is spelled. Not to mention the strange special cases of silent consonants and the like.

People like efficiency, while some may think this is an expression of illiteracy others just see it as the most efficient way to express an idea.

Re:Language evolves with how people use it... (4, Insightful)

EdZ (755139) | more than 4 years ago | (#30979938)

It's still "english" and the 'grammar' may be correct but you don't speak like that and it's not necessarily 'english' you'd recognize as how you think or speak in your own voice.

A rather silly complaint. If any book were written in the same way people spoke (pauses, repetitions, stuttering, incomprehension, disfluences, repetition, talking over one another, etc), it would be almost incomprehensible.

Re:Language evolves with how people use it... (4, Insightful)

brian0918 (638904) | more than 4 years ago | (#30980024)

Mark Twain, anyone?

Re:Language evolves with how people use it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30980030)

See the example given above.

Re:Language evolves with how people use it... (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30979964)

Better punctuation would have made your point a whole lot clearer.

The point here is not about the evolution of language, it's about the accurate use of accepted language to make a point. With consistency comes clarity, and clarity is what academic expression is all about.

Re:Language evolves with how people use it... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30980044)

(I am not a linguist.)

Yes. Language evolves with how people use it... while respecting the already established language. There have been many changes to the English language, due to influences from French and German, and before that from northern Europe, Latin and Greek. Not to mention countless other languages which have contributed words like shampoo, algebra and igloo, and neologisms (etc.) like radar and internet.

But none of the above occurred with a person consciously intending to speak English "his way". Rather, the changes developed due to changing needs and attitudes regarding how we should spell, use grammar etc.

When you, use, commas like this, all you're showing, is, that you're ignorant, of what commas are for.

wat? (1)

hort_wort (1401963) | more than 4 years ago | (#30980086)

tl;dr

Seriously though, I agree with you for the most part. (I apologize now for grammar Nazis on this site who will attack you imminently.) I don't think shortening all words to their acronyms is the best way to go. If you run across a word you don't know, you can make a good guess at the pronunciation from the spelling. You're pretty much screwed with all the modern shortcuts though. Plus I'd hate to read a paper with emoticons at the front of a class and have to mimic all the little faces. Finally, typing speeds in the new generation have really dropped. They can text message in a blazing fury, but that's for the most part useless. Heck, I don't even like people who type slow on my MMO team.

Re:Language evolves with how people use it... (4, Interesting)

dfxm (1586027) | more than 4 years ago | (#30980142)

Yes, language evolves, but in academia, students are expected to use good style (whether it is MLA, APA or something else). No style find emoticons acceptable yet.

I feel like this is less of a problem with literacy, and more of a problem about not being able to adapt your writing style to fit your audience.

Plus, there's nothing wrong with professors sticking up for today's grammar in the face of change.

Why is ":)" less valid than "!"? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30979826)

Emoticons are simply forms of expressing a particular feeling or intensity, in the same way as an exclamation mark. Is the only difference that exclamation marks are considered acceptable, because they are, in some way, traditional?

Why should one not consider indicating a humorous point by placing a winking face at the end of it, rather than using some other punctuation?

Re:Why is ":)" less valid than "!"? (5, Insightful)

QuoteMstr (55051) | more than 4 years ago | (#30979926)

Sure, language in itself is arbitrary. But our orthography, syntax, and vocabulary are very good proxies for our education and intelligence, and decision-makers quite rightly use our communicate skills to judge these traits.

Even if using smilies in term papers merely indicated we were at the forefront of innovation in English, the inability of switch to a formal, scholarly register in the appropriate context would make us seem ignorant in the eyes of the world, and would hamstring our international credibility.

But no, that's not why we write like that: instead, it's because we're a nation of fucking imbeciles who hold education in contempt, and think of intelligence as a threat.

Re:Why is ":)" less valid than "!"? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30980068)

Sure, language in itself is arbitrary. But our orthography, syntax, and vocabulary are very good proxies for our education and intelligence, and decision-makers quite rightly use our communicate skills to judge these traits.
-1 for misused word

Even if using smilies in term papers merely indicated we were at the forefront of innovation in English, the inability of switch to a formal, scholarly register in the appropriate context would make us seem ignorant in the eyes of the world, and would hamstring our international credibility.
  -1 for incorrect use of comma

But no, that's not why we write like that: instead, it's because we're a nation of fucking imbeciles who hold education in contempt, and think of intelligence as a threat.
-1 for incorrect use of comma

Re:Why is ":)" less valid than "!"? (1)

QuoteMstr (55051) | more than 4 years ago | (#30980164)

The first was a typo, but I'll admit to it. Sure.

As for the second two critiques: you're the one who doesn't understand the purpose of the comma.

Re:Why is ":)" less valid than "!"? (1)

228e2 (934443) | more than 4 years ago | (#30980138)

I would like to nominate this for comment of the year.

Re:Why is ":)" less valid than "!"? (1)

smitty777 (1612557) | more than 4 years ago | (#30979928)

I see your point, but think about what you're saying. So it would be OK for a submission to the Harvard Medical Journal to write "Our studies indicate that the treatment for this particular disease was successful :^)"

OMG ROFL111!!!!eleven

Re:Why is ":)" less valid than "!"? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30980106)

I can think of an acceptable example. Suppose an incredible breakthrough in treatment of a major disease (let's go with cancer, for sake of argument) came about.
After the research was very well peer-reviewed, I think it would be fine for the last line of a Conclusions section of a journal article to be something like: "With the demonstrated likelihood that this breakthrough can alleviate much human suffering, we cannot help ourselves but to type: ^_^"

It would get edited out of the published version, of course, which is probably ideal for future generations that will undoubtedly read the article, but online preprints having that sentence would be read excitedly by those following the news, who would likely be happy to note the smiley.

Re:Why is ":)" less valid than "!"? (0)

Neil_Brown (1568845) | more than 4 years ago | (#30979932)

Emoticons are simply forms of expressing a particular feeling or intensity, in the same way as an exclamation mark. Is the only difference that exclamation marks are considered acceptable, because they are, in some way, traditional?

Oops - I forgot to sign in before posting :)

Re:Why is ":)" less valid than "!"? (3, Interesting)

dfxm (1586027) | more than 4 years ago | (#30980066)

Emoticons are simply forms of expressing a particular feeling or intensity, in the same way as an exclamation mark. Is the only difference that exclamation marks are considered acceptable, because they are, in some way, traditional?

Why should one not consider indicating a humorous point by placing a winking face at the end of it, rather than using some other punctuation?

For the same reason you have to cite your references in a certain way, or for the same reason you should spell out numbers ten and below.

In academics, you have to follow a certain style. As a journalist, I had to follow the AP style. Yes, styles and language both change, but this is about knowing your audience and knowing how to communicate with them.

Benjamin Franklin said "Write with the learned, pronounce with the vulgar." Only now, social media has become part of our daily conversation, so the lines are blurring between what should be formal and informal.

So now the question is "should professional communication be different from the conversational vernacular?"

Maybe it's not so bad (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30979828)

After all it's pretty natural that languages evolve.

Re:Maybe it's not so bad (5, Insightful)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 4 years ago | (#30979972)

I think the point is that currently the language is "de"-volving.

It's ok to create new compound words for new ideas and technologies. It's ok to have colloquial words included in the official language because everybody uses them. It's not OK to simply encourage laziness and sloppiness under the pretext of an evolving language. Maybe fast food restaurants prefer to use a sign that says "Drive Thru" instead of "Drive Through" because the sign is smaller (and therefore cheaper). That's no excuse to use the word "thru" in a thesis.

Re:Maybe it's not so bad (1)

Tim C (15259) | more than 4 years ago | (#30980094)

Languages do evolve, but that's no excuse for being illiterate because "ppl no wot i mean, innit?"

Relevant (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30979830)

I once had a freshman student write in a paper, "The bathroom smelled in a way that is not relevant to life."

Re:Relevant (2, Funny)

widelight (1607145) | more than 4 years ago | (#30979916)

That's the funniest thing I've seen in the last five minutes. Thanks.

there loosers thats whi (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30979838)

If the schpelling and granmma on slashhdot is anythyn too go bi

Spell Checking (5, Insightful)

smitty777 (1612557) | more than 4 years ago | (#30979850)

FTA:

"But "spelling is getting better because of Spellcheck," says Margaret Proctor, University of Toronto writing support co-ordinator.

. I'd like to see some hard evidence before I agree with this statement. In my experience, people tend to make spelling errors and go with the spell chedking results without actually investigating the error.

Re:Spell Checking (3, Interesting)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 4 years ago | (#30979884)

True. I've even seen it in books, where an obviously out of context word was substituted. It may have passed the "spell check", but certainly that should be no excuse to avoid proof-reading. It's more than just looking for an absence of little red lines under your text.

Re:Spell Checking (1)

smitty777 (1612557) | more than 4 years ago | (#30980132)

Not only that, but students learning to rely on this technology will have a pretty serious handicap if they are ever in a situation where one is not available. Some teachers have forces students to hand write essays for this reason (the same goes for calculators).

Re:Spell Checking (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30979976)

There's a king of Ched? Wait! Where is Ched?

Re:Spell Checking (4, Funny)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 4 years ago | (#30980070)

Speaking of uncritical spell checking, from the article:

'Definitely' is always spelled with an 'a' -'definitely'. I don't know why

Uh-huh.

Re:Spell Checking (4, Insightful)

Tim C (15259) | more than 4 years ago | (#30980082)

He says spelling is getting better, but grammar is getting worse. That would be perfectly consistent with using a spell checker and not realising that it's suggested a grammatically-incorrect but properly spelled word.

I don't think he's implying that people are getting better at spelling, just that the number of spelling mistakes he sees is dropping.

Re:Spell Checking (1)

Junta (36770) | more than 4 years ago | (#30980110)

It's high thyme we put a steak in the ground. If this keeps happening, we will brake our language irreversibly.

Schools (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30979858)

How the hell do those people pass schools without anyone telling them that something like that in official texts is bad, BAD, *BAD* in that country?

Oxford comma? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30979868)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Serial_comma

AKA the Oxford Comma.

It actually demonstrates grammar. Oh noo! Stop the grammarians!

Re:Oxford comma? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30980154)

Who gives a fuck about an Oxford comma? I've seen those English dramas too, they're cruel So if there's any other way to spell the word It's fine with me, with me Why would you speak to me that way?

I'm in the middle of, a course rite know (3, Funny)

Jaktar (975138) | more than 4 years ago | (#30979876)

I can confurm, exactly what iz stated, here.

A course I'm currently taking requires frequent posting in threads created by the other students. The grammar is truly a sight to see.

I laughed (0)

DavidR1991 (1047748) | more than 4 years ago | (#30979878)

"That 10 per cent must take so-called "foundational" writing courses first."

Considering they're taking on students who can't write English properly, it's kind of ironic they've picked the most obscure/rare adjective form of 'foundation' for the title of the course.(Unless of course if foundational is often used on the other side of the pond, in which case I withdraw my laughter...)

Re:I laughed (1)

demonlapin (527802) | more than 4 years ago | (#30979974)

It's not rare enough to raise eyebrows; in ed speak, "building a foundation" is a reasonably common phrasing.

Re:I laughed (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30980042)

We'd typically call it remedial, which may be even less obvious to the illiterate than foundational (excepting the fact that they'd probably been in "remedial ..." their entire lives). What shocked me most about higher education here is that people who even attempt at some sport can get full scholarship to private colleges, regardless of standardized test scores. In my freshman year in college I met football players who'd been gifted straight "A's" in highschool, just because they were on the team.

Re:I laughed (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 4 years ago | (#30980112)

I'm not sure about the adjectival form, but in the UK it's common to have foundation courses at a university. If you didn't quite get the grades required for the course you want, you can do a foundation year before your degree. This doesn't count towards your final mark (you just need to pass it) and is intended to teach you the things that you failed to learn at A-level. It's often much more broad than the rest of the degree, with various modules taught by different departments.

Universities can't keep up (-1)

TheCycoONE (913189) | more than 4 years ago | (#30979892)

So what this demonstrates is that universities are not adapting as fast as the English language is. It makes sense in the information age that our language would be evolving at unprecedented rates. We could be like the L'academie Francaise and dictate that because it wasn't invented in an ivory tower it's not the true language; but English has historically been a living language - that is it's greatest strength. (We all know what 'cuz' means; don't TAs and Professors?)

There are uses for more formal linguistics, in the same way Latin was used well past the end of the Roman empire, to sound regal or intellectual - but it's really all for show.

Re:Universities can't keep up (5, Insightful)

demonlapin (527802) | more than 4 years ago | (#30980018)

"Cuz" is perfectly acceptable in an SMS. It is not in a paper. Someone who fails to distinguish between formal and informal writing may have difficulty distinguishing formal and informal behavior in other situations and end up telling your major client, who just happens to be a devout Christian, that she spent the last three days at a pot-fueled Wiccan orgy. (Or tell your other major client, who happens to be an LGBT activist, that she thinks all homos should be put to death by stoning.)

Re:Universities can't keep up (2, Insightful)

widelight (1607145) | more than 4 years ago | (#30980034)

I've got a degree in Anthropology and the linguists in the department will agree with you on this point. The official Anthropological stance is that language is just language, there is no "right" or "wrong." If it communicates, then it does its job.

Having said that, I'm not sure I agree with the linguists. There is something to be said for formal writing; baseline communication. What you do in your spare time (on facespace or in text messages) is your own business. But what you do on academic time or professional time is another matter. There are plenty of people out there that can speak or write in multiple dialects, and there's no reason to think that the children of today suddenly lost the ability to cross those kinds of boundaries at will.

I think the sloppiness is just an amalgamation of laziness and arrogance compounded by certain sociological factors (viz. that college is just an extension of high school with beer and sex, not really a learning institution; or that universities are first and foremost businesses and not learning institutions).

Just out of curiousity... (3, Funny)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | more than 4 years ago | (#30979898)

What part of speech is "eh?"

Sentence fragment is also a sentence fragment. (0)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 4 years ago | (#30979920)

30% of freshman university students fail a 'simple English test' at Waterloo University (up from 25% a few years ago). Academic papers are riddled with 'cuz' (in place of 'because') and even include little emoticon faces.

Fixed your missing parenthesis for you. Perhaps a community college would be more your style?

term paper on Shakespeare (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30979924)

OMG Juliet was like, oh oh, OMG were is my bf Romeo and I was like, so GET OVER IT teh rediculus bitch.

Eats, Shoots, and Leaves (5, Funny)

Strider- (39683) | more than 4 years ago | (#30979936)

To quote the book of the above title:

A panda walks into a café. He orders a sandwich, eats it, then draws a gun and proceeds to fire it at the other patrons.

'Why?' asks the confused, surviving waiter amidst the carnage, as the panda makes towards the exit. The panda produces a badly punctuated wildlife manual and tosses it over his shoulder.

'Well, I'm a panda', he says, at the door. 'Look it up.'

The waiter turns to the relevant entry in the manual and, sure enough, finds an explanation. 'Panda. Large black-and-white bear-like mammal, native to China. Eats, shoots and leaves.'

I've actually noticed myself becoming extremely careful about punctuation. If you get your punctuation wrong when programming, all sorts of bad things happen. English is just a natural extension of this.

It's the parents (5, Insightful)

Anita Coney (648748) | more than 4 years ago | (#30979950)

My wife works in the public schools. I learned one thing from her. Parents claim they want schools with touch academics. However, they also wants their kids to get a 4.0, or very close to it and go apeshit when it doesn't happen. So when a school does crack down and start to grade accurately to touch academic standards, the parents go ballistic. These parents start harassing the teacher, the principal, the administrators, and the school board.

So it's no shock that these kids, of which very little was ever demanded or expected of them, should suddenly find themselves failing college once the gloves come off.

Re:It's the parents (1)

data2 (1382587) | more than 4 years ago | (#30980080)

In my one year in a US highschool, there was a ranking of students. Should colleges not look out for that, instead?
Also, as far as I remember, the grading suggested for the new bachelor in Germany was something along the lines of top 10% A, next 10% B, etc.
This - applied as a school policy - should fix this problem, or not?

Re:It's the parents (5, Funny)

Junta (36770) | more than 4 years ago | (#30980158)

Parents claim they want schools with touch academics

I thought teachers get in a lot of trouble over providing that sort of thing?

Sit, grab the popcorn and read on (0, Flamebait)

JamesP (688957) | more than 4 years ago | (#30979960)

'cuz the rant starts NOW.

Now let's see, it's one thing to write incoherently, another thing is to write wrongly (that is not obeying proper grammar and spelling).

This is the way language evolves, this is why no one writes 'perchance', or uses ð anymore (well, except for Bjork :P)

And even though Englysh language scholars are much less picky (or rather, are not a total pain in the behind like let's say, French language scholars) my opinion of both (that is, those exclusively dealing with their mother tongue) is similar: those who can't do, teach. (yes, this is very biased and certainly doesn't apply for several professors, but still, for them, especially)

Re:Sit, grab the popcorn and read on (0, Redundant)

_Shad0w_ (127912) | more than 4 years ago | (#30980130)

I use "perchance" ...

UW has a lot of foreign students (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30979968)

What percentage of freshman students at UW are from Hong Kong?

Just sayin', is all.

Re:UW has a lot of foreign students (2, Interesting)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 4 years ago | (#30980020)

What percentage of freshman students at UW are from Hong Kong?

Just sayin', is all.

[citation needed]

Actually foreigners usually make a greater effort to ensure accurate language. Sometimes they might just not "get it" due to huge semantic differences in the languages, which is why they might say things in a strange way from time to time. But mostly the sloppiness and laziness comes from the native speaker.

You know what this means... (1)

JasonBee (622390) | more than 4 years ago | (#30979978)

Time to go back to school! The bell curve is going to heavily favour those of us who know how to write...and spell.

hai (5, Funny)

msclrhd (1211086) | more than 4 years ago | (#30979990)

Hai, I can haz degree?

Re:hai (1)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 4 years ago | (#30980050)

No u kant GTFO LOL LOL

Re:hai (1)

jimicus (737525) | more than 4 years ago | (#30980062)

Oh hai. Dis r Concordia College. You can haz degree!

Re:hai (1)

cabjf (710106) | more than 4 years ago | (#30980076)

No, you can haz job flipping cheeseburgerz.

Pleasantly surprised (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30979996)

I'm pleasantly surprised that these students actually failed their tests. I half-expect colleges to just dumb down the test and let them pass.

Nothing new (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30980038)

Seriously, this isn't anything new. I'm a grad myself and yes every year lots of people fail that test. And they have every reason to.

So it must be hard right? No, it isn't. I passed and my grammer is what Charles Barkley would say is 'turrible'

But this is why most students fail.

1) A ton of international students because of the technical programs. In computer science and engineering, you are likely: Chinese, Indian or Russian. Many do not have english as a first language.
2) The education system in Ontario (the province Waterloo resides in) doesn't teach grammer. I don't recall ever doing any sort of grammer drills in elementary school. Grammer is a set of rules, if you don't know them, then you can't apply them

Elementary school needs to get back to teaching grammer in the form of drills. The teachers themselves need to polish up on their practices as well and deduct more marks on grammer. The more students grades drop as a result of careless grammer, the more they will pay attention and improve. And if they fail? Great! their skills need refinement.

I remember that at UW... (1)

thirty-seven (568076) | more than 4 years ago | (#30980052)

This "simple English test" had been a requirement at the University of Waterloo for a while. When I started there in 1998, all new students in all faculties and programs had to satisfy an English reading/writing requirement by the end of their first year. This meant either passing the written test or showing that you achieved a grade of 80% (considered an A in Canada) in your senior university-track English class in high school in Ontario. Because the entrance requirements were pretty high and because students' senior high school English class had to be included in the six senior grades that students submitted with their application, I remember being surprised that so many of my fellow math and computer science students had to write the exam. They all passed, though. Some of my friends had to write the test not because they had poor grades in high school English but because they went to high school in another province or country. At the time my impression was that the test would be pretty easy for almost any university student whose first language was English. However, I didn't actually see the test myself.

I heard about this on the radio yesterday, and they said that the University of Waterloo is one of the few in Canada with such a requirement.

By the way, it is never properly called "Waterloo University".

Schools failing to insipre students (1)

lordlod (458156) | more than 4 years ago | (#30980056)

Australia recently released rankings of all our schools.

Chifley College Dunheved Campus was the worst ranked school in Sydney.

As you can see, the school isn't very inspiring [crikey.com.au]

Maybe its the school thats failing (-1)

plague911 (1292006) | more than 4 years ago | (#30980058)

Did anyone every stop to consider that language is evolving and that it is the traditional grammar which is failing to keep up with modern society?

The english in the article sucks (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30980098)

I can't be arsed copy/pasting the numerous examples of it, but fucking hell, as somebody who's worked as a print news editor I was a bit disappointed by the crappy style and bad writing in an article about falling literacy standards. On the other hand, you'd be shocked by the overall poor quality of the language coming out of any news wire service you'd care to name. This isn't a cultural or national thing, it's just as bad no matter what language it's in or what country the wire is about; most articles will need at least one or two corrections that should at least have been caught by a decent automated checker.

This does not surprise me. (5, Insightful)

djkitsch (576853) | more than 4 years ago | (#30980108)

I previously worked for about 8 years for a medium-sized marketing and design agency, as the lead web developer. On almost every project that passed across my desk, I seemed to be the only one spotting spelling errors, grammatical mistakes and punctuation problems before copy went to the web and to print. This was in a company of 30-ish young, university educated professionals in London.

When the programmers are copy-editing your marketing material, that should be a sign you've got literacy problems!

The weird thing was that when I sent the copy back, corrected, everyone told me I was being anal - apparently not bothered about bad copy to billboards and magazines nationwide.

I agree with a commenter above, though - I think coding does encourage attention to detail when a stray semicolon becomes important.

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