Where have all the standards gone?

I do hate sloppy English, especially in what are supposed to be proper publications. Following Andy's lead (HerThing) I contacted a local women's magazine called, guess what, Local Women, to offer them a short article on OC. I used their Contact Us page and after I had submitted the message a reply screen came up saying my message had been 'recieved'. Oh dear...

Now, I'd better proofread this post before I hit Publish.

Linda ;-)

58 Replies

  • Perhaps you should have written in French ??? Teehee love x G x

  • Nous avons reçu votre réponse.

    L ;-) xx

  • Hi Linda,

    Your post made me laugh, but it isn't funny really. I write and review a lot of things on workshops and it surprises me how some people are so sloppy. I think the internet has been a fantastic tool for writers; it has made it so much easier to publish their work. However, the downside is that a lot of the work is published without appropriate editing and proofing. The result is inferior quality. One would think that at least a publisher would get it right, especially on their submissions page. To be fair, I think it is probably an error by the web host as I have seen exactly the same error on lots of contact pages.

  • And technology doesn't always help. Sometimes the "helpful" suggestions my iPad offers do my head in.

    This will make you laugh (or groan). At a public consultation meeting on the proposed closure of a branch library in N. Ireland a local Councillor stood up and said "Tony Blair talked about education, education, education. Where has that went?" You couldn't make it up!

  • Was it irony, do you think?!


  • I wish!


  • Love it!

  • But what a wonderful democratic and inclusive language English is! I studied the following poem as part of my English Literature degree. It says a lot about attitudes, political values, inclusivity and equality. Enjoy!

    this is thi

    six a clock

    news thi

    man said n

    thi reason

    a talk wia

    BBC accent

    iz coz yi

    widny wahnt

    mi ti talk

    aboot thi

    trooth wia

    voice lik

    wanna yoo

    scruff. if

    a toktaboot

    thi trooth

    lik wanna yoo

    scruff yi

    widny thingk

    it wuz troo.

    jist wanna yoo

    scruff tokn

    thirza right

    way ti spell

    ana right way

    ti tok it. this

    is me tokn yir

    right way a

    spellin. this

    is ma trooth.

    yooz doant no

    thi trooth

    yirseltz cawz

    yi canny talk

    right. this is

    the six a clock

    nyooz. belt up

    Alistair Grey

  • Don't get me started on grammatical errors! I taught with quite a few teaching assistants who said ' we was going....' etc to the children and thought that that was normal grammar. I also particularly hate 'off of' , ' I won't have none of that' and 'nucular' .... That's a common one even on the BBC! How on earth people expect children to learn to write correctly when they hear so many mistakes! OK, rant over ;-)

    Love Wendy xx

  • If a newsreader says "the amount of people" once more I will scream. I always shout "NUMBER!!!" at the television.

    Grammar and punctuation are part of my life as a writer, so often think about all this stuff. I have 'Eats, shoots and leaves' and often leaf through it; it's a wonderful book.

    Rant away! English is gettin' rubbish innit...


  • How about the children in Merthyr and environs who learn from their teachers, 'He have gone'. That's how they speak in Merthyr. Is it regional or is it wrong? This is a conundrum close to my heart over the last 12 years working in Widening Access in Wales.

    I was taught from an early age to look out for things that might improve my life. If I didn't know which knife and fork to pick up take a look at the other people at the table. Today the kids are oblivious to a different environment that might well provide a step up. If you ask me if the 1950's were more socially mobile or the 2000s, I'd say the 1950's. It was not a result of government intervention - it was there for anyone who looked for it and wanted to grab the chance. xxxxx

  • I think the thing I was trying to say is that everyone should feel confident to have their say - and particularly on a space like this at Health Unlocked/Ovacome. English is for the most part an inclusive language that welcomes a wide variety of interpretation. Expression on this forum is more important than grammar or spelling because we want to hear everyone's views.


    xxx Annie

  • Yes, I think there has to be a difference in the way we look at official publications and contributions on this site. It would be awful if people were shy of contributing because they were worrying too much about grammar and spelling. We wouldn't want it to become a site that "supports women with ovarian cancer provided they meet certain educational standards".

    I'm sure that no one has this in mind.Just think it is worth emphasising.

    Mary xx

  • I'm relieved you've put up this post. We can have a giggle at things or chat about things and then you can look up the thread and feel you need to clarify things. That was really helpful. xxx love Annie

  • Hi Mary,

    I so agree :-/ ;-) love x G x :-)

  • Formal English is rarely accepted in submissions compared to fifteen years ago, a more relaxed style is actively encouraged, schools were encouraging the children to write down how they felt, regardless of spelling, so when my daughter was in reception and then through primary school no correction was made to spelling and parents actively discouraged from correcting their 'flow'. Now she is about to choose her GCSE's the goalposts have moved and spelling etc will be marked, putting the majority of her year group at a disadvantage. So do not hold your breath for the future of English language. Lol.


  • Ah yes, if we're talking about schools and the teaching of English .... I certainly wouldn't be recommending expression over and above grammar and spelling. I like the way that pupils are taught to read and celebrate English in various forms but deplore the movement from the late sixties when grammar was abandoned in pursuit of more interesting avenues of study.

    I was lucky to have the privilege of attending a type of school where English Grammar was taught from entry to 15 years of age. It was considered one of the five essential O Level subjects that were still referred to as 'matriculation' and which you needed to pass with a good grade to progress to university. Most exams were essay-based and you'd lose marks across all of the subjects for poor grammar or spelling.

    English Grammar was dropped for pupils who followed me some years later in the system so you would now have very few teachers who have had any formal grammar training and they just don't have the knowledge to instruct or correct children. It seems to be left to individuals whether they interest themselves in the correct form of expression and today the best jobs are open to people whether they have a flair for language or not.

    It does seem to to make us more inclusive and to guarantee greater diversity in the work force. We can now employ people who have the most talent for a specific role rather than restricting the best jobs to those who had the benefit of a privileged education and a flair for language.

    Hopefully Lily-Ann, your daughter has enough time in the next two years to become aware of grammar and spelling so she isn't disadvantaged in her exams. It helps massively that you express yourself so well but I remember it's an ongoing battle to persuade children to sit down with a good book rather than watching television or other media.

    I rather think the English language will continue to adapt and evolve. There's something rather exciting about that.

    xxx love Annie

  • Too right. I so disagree with this relaxed attitude to the teaching aspect. People can have latitude to speak as they wish, of course, and dialectal variation has to be acceptable - but there needs to be a stable baseline first; all children should be taught the basics (I am sure there are ways to teach grammar without the old style rigid and dull routines of old, however). Failure to teach language properly shuts off avenues of work, pigeonholes intelligent people wrongly, and allows barriers to emerge which simply shouldn't be there. It is even more vital in areas with high diversity of culture - not ensuring kids from other backgrounds learn English fully while we have the chance (with ridiculous ideas about allowing inherited ethnicity because it is politically correct) simply sustains segregation and cultural barriers instead of breaking them down.

    See, now we have MY rant emerging! Don't get me started on pronunciation....


    Sue xxx

  • The emerging chick! Teehee :-/ ;) love x G x

  • I loved your rant Sue. I'm now fascinated about your 'take' on pronunciation. Did you like the Scottish poem? It changed forever the way I think of English, power, and politics in the UK but what other language would enable you to write with such fluidity and lack of formal punctuation and for it to be called 'art'. We have cultural diversity to thank for that. And the fact that more people in the world speak our language as a second language than a first language so there are many variations.


  • Not about accent, but about just plain bad pronunciation which totally ignores how words are spelled. Jungshun instead of junction, wensday instead of Wednesday, etc etc!

  • yes! - and my native London 'garidge' - instead of my more recently acquired 'garage'. Of course had I remained in London I would have argued that's a regional quirk.

    My kids titter at my pronunciation of 'Charing' as in Charing Cross which my Mum would insist is spelled with one 'r' and therefore pronounced 'chairing' and not 'Charring'. Perhaps you know the answer Sue? xxxx

  • Ooh, I've hit a nerve with this one, haven't I?

    As some of you have said, there's a clear difference between submissions on a site like this and items written for more formal publication, whether in paper form or on the web. What we have here are conversations. It just happens that they are written down. The strict rules of grammar and spelling really can't apply. Apart from anything else, the vagaries of my iPad keyboard mean that mistakes are bound to creep in so I need to have a bit of slack cut too!

    But in more formal publications, whether it's a newspaper or an organisation's official communications, every effort should be made to use proper English and eliminate mistakes.

    As for dialect and regional speech, I love it and use it at every opportunity because it may be an endangered species. I think I'll start a blog asking people to list their favourite local insult terms. We have some beauties here in Northern Ireland.

    I have just had to go over this post correcting the iPad's overuse or omission of apostrophes. Now there's a whole other can of worms....

    Linda xxx

  • My problem tends to be speed typing then pressing the button send, then realise the odd typo error which makes me feel like a pratt.

  • I used to be dyslexic but I am KO now!!

  • I remember, many years ago, seeing a T-shirt with

    ADIS.....don't die of dyslexia!

    I thought that was really funny in the context of the old AIDS ad which was around at the time.

  • Been there, done it!

    I should return to the primary reason for my original post. The magazine came back to me and said they'd be glad to run a piece from me on OC. And they've given me quite a generous word count. Got a first draft nearly finished last night. :-)

  • Please share your finished version with us Linda. You and Paul may inspire articles on Ovarian Cancer in other areas of the UK. Sue (PRChick) mentioned on another blog about publicity that journalists like a local 'story' to attract interest. I think there are enough stories on this web site for an encyclopaedia on Ovarian Cancer!

    Good luck with it.

    Insult in my area is, 'Twll dîn pob Sais'. The first words of Welsh I was taught and provided great hilarity as I struggled to repeat and learn them.

    xxx Annie

  • You have to tell us what it means, Annie

    Monique x

  • Suffice to say 'Sais' means English and the remainder is perjorative. Seems Wendy was also treated to the same 'welcome'.

    It's funny that experience has remained in my mind for the 38 years I've lived in Wales and has probably coloured to some extent my attitudes to Welsh speakers. It's sad because the vast majority are delightful and keen for people to understand a bit more of their language.

    xxx love Annie

  • That's funny, Annie, that was one of the first bits of Welsh I learned T college too ;-)

  • yes it's very funny isn't it (not). I was told it meant 'hello' in Welsh. Luckily I've since met better mannered Welsh speakers but I have an arsenal of Welsh insults so I'm aware if I'm a target of such unfortunate behaviour.

  • Oooops! Another typo! AND on this thread :-o

  • I wish I had read this earlier Wendy, I spent ages trying to work out what the T was for LoL x x :-/ ;-)

  • I-paditis again I'm afraid, Gwyn! lol :-D

    It often comes up as T when I think I've done at and also Nd when I meant and........

    Have a lovely sunny Easter weekend. I'm having a quiet, day today, you know, Good Friday and all that....old habits die hard!

    Hope some sunshine comes your way 8-)

    Love W xx

  • Hi Annie,

    I had never heard of this phrase, having just looked it up I think it's disgraceful, how can people be so nasty? (and get away with it) makes me ashamed to be Welsh....suffice to say we are not all the same i was obviously brought up in a different way...I am really shocked. :-O

    Love x G x :-)

  • It was always meant as a joke, in my case, I think! I never had anything but a warm welcome from Clive and his family and friends. No racism there! ;-)

    However, one Christmas morning when we went to the local rugby club for a drink with his Dad and Uncle, someone at the bar asked 'You're not allowing HER in here are you?' Clive said, 'Allowing? .....you try stopping her!'

    I hopenitbwas meant as a joke ...... I',

    I'm meeting up with some of my friends from those days in Cardiff next summer, after 42 years for most of us!

  • Aww that would be good...I hope it was meant as a joke as well teehee... Love x G x

    I have just read today about another sad loss this time Jenni (aimingforten)she was only 21....I just couldn't let it go without recognition if you go on her name she has put up a link to her blog so sad :-(

  • I see you have just read it xx

  • Yes, it is such an unfair disease....so awful. Poor Jenni. RIP :'(

  • Haha I hadn't noticed but the iPad has a language of it's own LOL xx :-/ ;-)

  • Oooops! More I-typing errors! Hopenitbwas ..... Where on earth is that in the dictionary..... English or Welsh?


  • Oops answered in the wrong place Doh! Xx

  • That is excellent, Linda. Please do share a link with us. Hopefully others will follow the lead too and we'll have magazines all over the country running something.

    Well done

    Andy x

  • The French have their Academie Francaise to police their language (sorry, my laptop won't do accents) but still manage to have regional accents, don't they? Their language manages to grow, too.

    I love regional accents but hate seeing "apple's" for sale. We should be proud of our wonderful, infuriating, illogical language and look after it!

    Monique x

  • Hahaha... I remember when on holiday in Greece the shop assistant was confused why tourists only bought one apple, explaining that she only ever bought a kilo of fruit, I explained that buying a kilo of fruit was probably too much (and too heavy) if they were on their way to the beach they only required one apple, (given this reasoning the sign would be correct) LOL ...I never noticed whether her sign had "apple's" for sale or not but this could be another reason why they only bought one.

    I agree with the comments above though, I would hate to be marked on grammatical errors or spelling mistakes for that matter, what with my mistakes and then my iPad mistakes it often comes out gobbledygook , but with nearopathy it is hard enough typing the first time without me having to delete and correct it. :-/ ;-) :-O

    Love and best wishes x G x :-)

  • Yes, Gwyn, I agree with them too. There has to be some lightness of touch I think.

    Brings to mind when I was a child living abroad and we had a VSO who was teaching at a nearby school staying with us. We were having lunch one day when I said "Mum, can I have some ...(whatever it was)" to which he very pompously replied "You can, but may you?". My sister and I giggle about it to this day, and it is virtually all we can remember about the man!

    Monique 8-) x

  • Well he was not only pompous, he was out of order pointing it out.

    That does rather remind me of studying for a CELTA course to become a teacher of English as a second language. I was rather nonplussed to be told by the tutor that some of my grammar is 'archaic'. In a class session I'd queried the phrase, 'Can I go to the toilet?'. He told me today that 'may' and 'can' are one and the same.

    I'm afraid I'm not won over to his thinking. My suggestion would be, 'Where is the toilet?', or 'Where is the lavatory?'. I don't need to ask anyone if I'm able to poo or wee as I'm the best judge of that, and if I'm a guest in someone's house I assume I have their permission to use the facilities. I merely need to know where they are.

    What does the jury say about that?

    xxx A

  • I'm with you there, Annie! I was sometimes called a 'posh' speaker as I was always taught to be grammatically correct, it was the way we were educated back then!

  • It was my Mum who was insistent about 'can' and 'may', the lav query and all sorts of etiquette. I think people who had risen from being servants wanted to 'improve themselves' and for their children to break away from the ties that had kept them below stairs. Such was the social mobility of the 19th century. xx

  • Well, her spelling isn't too bad, English is her strength, as I would hope considering my degree is in English, it is just frustrating that the schools step in and stop the parents best efforts because it's out of fashion. I was very lucky as I was educated privately, something I was unable to afford for my own children.

    My background is journalism, I used to write for a national newspaper, they too have moved the goalposts in the last few years with the industry being even more competitive than ever before. Good luck with your article, look forward to the link.


  • Hi LA,

    When I was working in a museum (taking school children around), I was always very pleased to have the childrens thankyou letters completely unedited, they somehow had more meaning with mistakes etc (warts and all) I hated it when the teacher corrected them....sometimes there was so many corrections in red it spoilt the flow and made them very difficult to read...one thing I miss about my job is those lovely letters they always brought a smile to my face. :-D :-D

    Love x G x :-)

  • I bet your daughter will be fine - but probably more because you are yourself so articulate, have talked to her lots all her life and will care/correct almost without thinking about it. It gets absorbed. Sadly that doesn't happen in all homes :-(

  • Just caught up on all the posts! I didn't mean to sound elitist in my previous post, I was referring to the teaching of language in schools. It always seemed odd to me that, whereas grammar and spelling was taught when pupils were learning a foreign language, it wasn't insisted upon, at one time, in Primary English lessons. I always taught both grammar and spelling, regardless of what the thought police tried to tell me. ;-) I thought it was important to know which style of language to use on which sort of occasion. Nothing wrong with dialect and slang in some situations, but I think it's important for youngsters to be taught there is a difference between 'official' or formal situations and chatting with friends.

    However, I agree with you, Gwyn, about there being a place for unedited writing, including thank you letters. They are so natural and lovely.

    I can remember reading in a child's 'news' .....way back ..... 'We got a new 3p sweet at the weekend' so logical when you read it out loud :-) I also loved the comment ,,,,' miss, how do you spell I.T..?' (Meaning information technology) Aahhhhhh, the wit of children! Now that sounds like a weekend blog topic, or have we done it already? :-D

    Love Wendy xx

  • My daughter wrote to thank me for passing on an old Chester Drawers I no longer needed in our house. Now Gwyn might have something to say about that! xxx lol

  • Really enjoyed all the comments triggered by this blog. Light the blue touch paper and retire...

    Keep on ranting!

    Linda xxx

  • We are still ranting teehee xx :-) G xx

  • It's a fascinating topic Linda. I find myself arguing on both sides of the fence and don't know where I stand. To be brought up with icons such as Churchill, Lady Astor and Oscar Wilde and 30 years later to bow to the dizzying intelligence of Michael Foot, Paul Merton and Janet Street Porter is enough to turn anyone's values topsy-turvy. xxx

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