Gosh, there\’s so much here:
Teachers need to do more work to improve children\’s vocabulary and make it clear when the use of slang and colloquialisms are not acceptable, academics have found.
That is, do not let it all hang out as everyone\’s been told for the past few decades. There is a formal language which needs to be known as well as the regional vernaculars.
With older children, chief examiners have revealed a growing tendency for pupils to lapse into the vernacular in exams scripts, using slang and inappropriate expressions.
Slang and the vernacular can be extremely powerful in a piece of writing. Although, to be fair, it\’s a bit like playing music exquisitely badly: you\’ve got to be able to do it properly before you can play around with the rules and know just where to go wrong.
Perhaps I\’m a tad touchy on this point….my own writing uses the vernacular and I deliberately try to use speech patterns rather than more formal styles (at least, my own speech patterns which are in themselves more formal than most).
They give us an example of the inappropriate use of the vernacular in an exam answer:
\”Hamlet is a laid back mummy\’s boy who needs to move on.\”
Err, actually, that\’s rather more cogent than tens of thousands of heavyweight tomes that have been written on hte subject.
“Err, actually, that’s rather more cogent than tens of thousands of heavyweight tomes that have been written…”
Possibly, if one were writing a newspaper column. Or a blog. But they aren’t, they are trying to pass an English exam.
And how about these gems:
“”Heani referz 2 poetri as wen humn xperiens cumz 2 life” – an essay on Seamus Heaney’s poem Digging
“I was well bored.”
“f*** off” “
Surely, the point is that if they can’t tell that these are inappropriate terms to use on an exam, they can’t tell that they may be inappropriate terms to use on a letter to a client. Or the company website.
Sorry, Tim: no. It’s desperately irritating, and quite unacceptable. Julia is right (I say that a lot in blog comments – I don’t have a crush on you, Julia, honestly. Well, maybe a small one). Exams today are as much a signalling mechanism as a plain competence-hurdle (especially now they have been dumbed down so that ancillary signals have taken the place of raw marks). The ability to express oneself with precision is an indicator of an ordered mind. Cognitive ability is remarkably refractory to environment (the Flynn effect notwithstanding) so the willingness to lower the bar as to what is acceptable at the fag-end of secondary education has necessarily diminished its discriminatory capacity. Writing, “Hamlet is a laid back mummy’s boy who needs to move on,” might be accurate from a strictly utilitarian parsing of the text, but is there any reason to believe that such a banausic take indicates a mind capable of higher learning?
Tim adds: If I knew what “banausic” meant I might comment further….
One of my daughter’s teachers was explaining why she moved schools. At her old school a seven year old had said to her “Suck my dick you fucking cunt.” The teacher wanted reprimand the child but the school policy, as the head teacher explained, was that language was “cultural” and teachers should not be “judgemental”.
“Julia is right (I say that a lot in blog comments – I don’t have a crush on you, Julia, honestly. Well, maybe a small one)”
Why, thank you, kind sir 🙂
“The teacher wanted reprimand the child but the school policy, as the head teacher explained, was that language was “cultural” and teachers should not be “judgemental”.”
!!! And we wonder why we have an educational problem in this country… 🙁
“Tim adds: If I knew what “banausic” meant I might comment further….”
You could Google it. Won’t harm your test scores…:)
I’m guessing, purely from the root (too lazy to Google it myself) and from the context – ‘mechanistic’?
Well, yes, it differentiates the merely mechanical and utilitarian from that created for a higher aesthetic purpose. It’s from the Greek bánaus meaning ‘artisan’. It’s a handy word to have in one’s quiver of disdain.
“It’s a handy word to have in one’s quiver of disdain.”
Indeed. The Internet’s better for the acquisition of new words than even a Stephen Donaldson fantasy novel…
Perhaps if we could find a way to get ‘da youf’ blogging with regularity, their vocabulary might improve?
Sorry, Tim, you’re talking rubbish.
How is it in any way ‘cogent’ to suggest Hamlet is ‘laid back’ or ‘needs to move on’?
‘Needs to move on’: If we look at the events of the play in their context (as A level students ought to), Hamlet’s brother has just murdered his father. Quite apart from the need to avenge his father’s death, Hamlet fears naturally for his own life. Even if anyone can determine exactly what it means to ‘move on’ (exactitude being the entire point), would you?
‘Laid back’? He feigns madness, stages plays to assess the reaction of his brother and ends up killing several people and dying himself. I suppose you could call that ‘laid back’ behaviour, but only if you’d never read the play and had no interest in education.
“Perhaps if we could find a way to get ‘da youf’ blogging with regularity, their vocabulary might improve?”
God, no. “You can lead a horticulture, but you can’t make her think.” If there’s a cultural barrier to be overcome, it’s the shibboleth that inflicting tertiary education on 50% of the population rather than the 7% capable of making use of it will somehow lead us to the sunlit uplands where all will frolic in a heady atmosphere of cultural and intellectual fulfilment (and as a corollary, ‘da youf’, as you put it, will be too busy putting on social club re-enactments of Long Day’s Journey Into Night to be stabbing each other.)