We live in a world where we have more to say but less time to say it in. We fall in and out of love, make and break friendships, and hear fantastic and sad news often through the medium of text. Yes, text is a wonderful thing in all of its forms: literature; news; communications and much more. However, the way we have become dependent on it has led to a distinct lack of quality in its basic form.
Grammatical errors and poor spelling in an ever increasing number of newspapers, magazines, government pamphlets and even books, not to mention online content has created, or at least fuelled, a vicious cycle in the reinforcement and promotion of using bad grammar. We are in danger of a meltdown where our beautiful language will be overrun with mountains of errors, thousands of abbreviations and a general sense of what can only be seen as ‘lazy writing’.
Our reliance on text as a medium, combined with our increasingly busy lives, has given us a need to read and write much quicker – cue the millions of abbreviations we have developed in the digital age- however, this dumbing down of the English language can quickly spread into speech. For many, this speech becomes the norm and with that their grasp of the English language depletes and the spiral of grammatical meltdown continues.
This continuing depletion has slowly but surely, and in hindsight very quickly, resulted in newspapers across the board having multiple mistakes on every page, every day. We are skipping words, and important words at that. We are rushing grammar and getting it wrong.
It is true that newspapers must develop mass content in a minimal time frame, but so do many other institutions. In other lines of work companies and institutions produce numerous operational reports each and every day. These reports will often go through numerous pairs of eyes before being sent to the recipient(s). This practice of checking almost always eliminates the vast majority of grammatical errors made and ensures the quality of the report. It baffles me how a similar system of checking is not used for checking newspapers and if it is then how are they missing these glaring mistakes on a daily basis. Where are the interns!?
There are two conclusions I arrive at when trying to understand this constant reduction in grammatical quality. Yes it is about speed and producing important and to-the-point prose in a limited time frame. However, it seems that more often than not it actually boils down to laziness, inefficiency and a lack of pride in ones work.
It is fair enough when one needs to write quickly in a personal message but this attitude needn’t find its way into our press, our literature or our own writing. Call me the grammar police but whatever you do, just make sure your comment on this post makes sense.
If what you have just read sounds like a whinge, rest assured, it almost certainly is, but, if you need some help in reassessing my message I shall leave you in the capable literary hands of George Orwell writing in his 1946 essay, Politics and the English Language. ‘But if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought. A bad usage can spread by tradition and imitation even among people who should and do know better’.
Britain’s Grammatical Meltdown is as seen on Alexander Bowden’s page on the Huffington Post Blog.