The fall of the English language

English is a complex language, but children of as young as 10 or 12 have managed to master it.

Why then can the advertisers and their copy writers, who, presumably, are considerably older than that not manage to cope?

I can see your confusion. What's he on about now? OK, a couple of examples:-

1) Advert on UK TV for some face cream part of which is a grinning woman spouting the following: "the first jar was good, the second worked even better and by the third jar I was totally addicted".

So, according to the advert their product produces total addiction in a very short space of time? Now i'm sure there are a few products out there that ARE addictive, but I hardly think the advertisers nor the manufacturers of this face cream actually intended to say that, but, in this case, that's exactly what they are doing.

2) Painkillers and cleaning products often use slogans like "Nothing acts faster than (whatever they are selling)" or "Nothing cleans better than (whatever they are selling)"

In that case, use nothing. Nothing obviously does a far better job than their product.

Not, i would suggest, what they really meant to convey.

Being picky am I? I don't think so. The English language is being mangled on a regular basis and I, perhaps alone, but i doubt it, am getting really fed up with it.

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Published in Questions & Trivia

Comments

  1. Rockflower

    Hi Waylander, I share your irritation but it is only going to get worse friend.
    When you and I went to school we had to write a lot, we wrote notes, Now teachers hand out printed pages of information and relevant facts. We answered examination questions in essay form, no ticking of boxes for us. If we handed in written homework on subjects from history, geography to needlework, the subject content and the language it was written in was evaluated, you could lose marks for both and for the legibility of your actual writing. Students don’t even expect to have to write correctly in an English class these days. A teacher friend of mine received an excellent creative paper on a Shakespeare play but the grammar, and spelling were appalling. He spoke with the student telling him, he was sorry but he had marked the paper down because of the spelling and grammar. The student was angry…… you did not say the spelling and grammar had to be correct Sir!
    In North America we have the same problems and young people as elsewhere have invented the texting speak, how long before that becomes normal in all communication? I don’t know if it is a just a N. American phenomena but there is a love of adding -ion- to the ends of words . There is also a love of adding superfluous words that add nothing. In official articles and letters there is a tendency to avoid the simple direct description of something . in an architect’s proposal for an extension to an art gallery, I read that that he recommended,” A wall mounted time indicator”. This was a wall clock!? Sadly you cannot reverse time on the time indicator, language evolves as it absorbs words from other languages and technology. We can always go back and read some Jane Austen, she never wrote a sentence with a superfluous word, the elegance of her writing has stood the test of time.

    1. waylander Post author

      I agree it’s probably going to get worse, Rockflower. On one hand we have the text speak reducing entire sentences to a few letters and on the other pompous self important idiots using 20 words where 3 would have done.

  2. starlette

    Hi Way…….the one thing that has always grated on me is ….pronouncing a F instead of TH…….as in………I fort it best we go out later, what do you fink…grrrrr
    CVs for job applications are more often then not done on the computer, the spelling is checked and you cannot see the handwriting……..all clues in the past in determining whether to offer an interview or not…….as for being addicted to face cream………I think that’s an insult to a women intelligence…….wouldn’t sell it for me…..

    1. sunsip

      Star I do see your point but sometimes its regional. Being a Londoner im afraid I always used an F which always annoyed my m/in/law. She once said to me “cant you use a TH?” My reply was “of course u can thuck off !” haha do you think my reply on here will be deleted? 😉

      1. starlette

        Haaaaa that is soooo funny…….I fink you did right telling your ma in law to
        thuck of with a f……..nah it wont get deleted……lol…..

  3. rose1943

    I feel that the English language is being totally fractured here in the U.S. They are not learning the parts of speech, diagramming sentences, spelling is atrocious and they are not practicing penmanship. In the past I helped my daughter who teaches in a public school. I corrected papers with paragraphs on different subjects. With my red pen I circled spelling errors, illegible words and noted incomplete sentences. I no longer can help correct papers. The children AND parents were angry with my corrections! Teachers are advised not to teach cursive writing anymore. They know nothing about, “Never end a sentence with a preposition.” How could they know? It’s one of the parts of speech. They are shortening words because it is quicker, probably due to all the texting they are doing all day long. AND…we now have a president that makes up his own vocabulary as he Twitters! We are lost. It’s over….gone…and surely it will worsen if the parents and the president don’t even care.

  4. Rockflower

    Rose, I read in a British newspaper that teachers had been told to correct in a pink or pale blue pen, it was felt that red was too strident and scared children? This is something else that is wrong these days, I help run a festival of the word here, we have writers, poets come and others perform by reading or telling stories. We invited schools to join in, we thought kids could recite or have a writing competition. No way, it was explained to me that they could not have a child win because someone would lose? I think this is totally bonkers, where are these kids going to go where there is no competition in an adult world? I think that the time to learn how to behave when winning or losing, is when you are a child and have lots of kind support round you to help and explain. We all lose sometimes and it is better if you have learned as a child, that to lose is OK, if you have done your best. You learn that the world does not end because you did not win, the sun will come up in the morning and you start again. This prepares you for life and parents are not doing their kids any favours by preventing their kids from learning these valuable lessons.
    So often I am saddened by seeing good kids at first year college, they had brilliant high marks at school. First college exams’ and they just get a pass, the poor kids go into total panic and they want to give up and some do. My own sons used to get 98 even a 100 for their papers at school. It is a family joke because I was always telling them ….Look kid you are not this good. You have to work hard, when I was at school the geniuses did not get 98 on a paper. My boys too got that stomach churning shock when they got their first college papers back, suddenly Mum was not so crazy. They wondered if they should keep at college in their depths of depression. I reminded them I had said…You will have to work harder, I did not say you could not do it, I know you can. Things a little more competitive and teachers marking tough and in red would help kids to see what they need to do. Or am I just a tough old bat LOL?

  5. rose1943

    Trump just invented a new word, Tweeted, ” If this horrible “camage” doesn’t stop in Chicago, 217 shootings in 2017′ I am sending in the Feds. He said all this at the beginning of the year but “camage” is new. I looked it up, no such word. He repeatedly makes them up.

  6. roseinbloom

    Waylander, many of us studied and mastered the language and loved it as we learned it. That is not prevalent in many groups but many habits are getting more relaxed and some of it is good. Relaxed means more freedom. I don’t like vulgar language and slang because it is not widely understood and lacks definition. The F word, for example. gets used for almost anything and lost its original meaning which was a polite word for the “for unlawful carnal knowledge”.

  7. rose1943

    Way, he may have meant carnage in his tiny brain, who knows? Last month he tweeted “covfefe.” Can you translate that for me and my country.?

  8. rose1943

    Then there is good old “Enry Iggins” from My Fair Lady. (Pygmalion) I believe it is a fact that our pronunciation of words immediately tells where we were born….yes, even those of us born in Chicago, I am told, have an accent and a certain way of speaking. Having been born here I cannot detect it but others say it’s true. Certainly can hear the difference in Boston and the East Coast and those in California. My sister and family moved to Colorado in 1968. They all sound like Cowboys. There are some people I can listen to for hours. Rex Harrison was one for sure. Emma Thompson. I have a very long list. None from the U.S. however. Any thoughts?

  9. Rockflower

    It is not only the accents but the rhythm of the language. When I was young and in England, I often found reading American classics difficult because the rhythm was all wrong to my limited experience of ‘American’ as it is spoken. Hearing the work read by an American made all the difference. I used to be shocked that so many Americans could confuse an Australian accent with a British one. I’m much better with American accents now, Boston, NY, West Coast, North South, the ones in the middle tend to run into one for me, my ear not tuned into the differences.
    Language constantly changes , if I hear a recording of someone speaking on the BBC in 1930..1950. It all sounds so different now. If you hear recordings of people from the regions of Britain in those same time frames, you realize how much regional accent has been lost since radio and TV. This must have happened in America too? We will all end up speaking more or less the same. Will people start condensing words as they do texting? Perhaps Pres. Trump is in the vanguard inventing his own words? He did tell us at one of his campaign meetings , that had words, the best words? I’ve noticed that when reading he does it in a most particular way all his own.

  10. Ms. K.

    Hi. My husband and I have been writing and rewriting our first novel for almost 2 years. It’s a funny romantic adventure, ladies! Between this generation’s tiny attention span and their reliance on visual stimulation, our editor insisted we learn how to write “livelier”. Hmmm, not willing to fully comprise our love of language, we’ve managed.
    We’re almost done the 5th edit, and I hope this copy is the publishable one. If it is, we’re going to take the bus to the beach and collapse.
    K.