It's late at night and I've got to get up early tomorrow morning and I don't want to spend my time writing this blog but something I saw in my letter box this morning irritated me somewhat. It all began with a flyer from an estate agent which looked quite good as far as presentation went. The paper was glossy and had an attractive assortment of colours. But it was badly written. Every sentence contained at least one language error. That didn't irritate me. One can't expect linguistic perfection to be one of the many strong points an estate agent no doubt has. What really irritated me was another flyer, even more attractive than the estate agent's. It's from a school that purports to teach students languages - English and Chinese. There are lovely pictures in this flyer and very few words. One would have thought that a language school would ensure it made no mistake in its language especially when there were just a few short sentences to deal with. Surely a parent cannot be faulted if he is to judge the quality of the English language taught in the school by the language used in its advertisement? Here are the photographs I took of the flyer. You can click on each of them for a larger image. Or, better still, you can right click on the image and choose to open it in a new window. That way you can view a larger pic and read the contents of the flyer.
When I have the time, I will say more about language schools and the shocking things they teach kids. I'm not referring to this particular school, Mind Stretcher, which I've not heard of before reading their flyer this morning. I'm talking about a very established and well-known school that my kids used to go to when they were in primary school. I have old emails to back up what I say.
I've said it before and I'll say it again. I don't want to sound like a cranky old codger who's always ranting and raving about incorrect usage. Grammar doesn't mean a thing to me and I feel perfectly at home with sloppy language and wildly incorrect usage. But I'm irritated when those who claim to be in the position to teach others or to tell them where they have gone wrong are unable to write a few simple sentences without glaring mistakes. Just read the flyer above for yourself and tell me if you will not be similarly irritated. Remember, this is a language school that's putting its best foot forward with this advertisement.
I have not finished. Keep an eye on this blog for more posts about teachers whose job it is to teach children the English language. I have a lot more to say. But I'll be discreet. The last thing I want to do is to offend people and from my personal experience, teachers can be quite touchy.
[16 January 2014: I was told by a friend today that he could not spot any mistake in the flyer. I didn't believe him but I didn't have time to question him further. So tonight I got my son to read through the flyer and he immediately picked up a couple of obvious errors, completely without any prompting from me. That confirmed my suspicion that my friend who called me up today had not read through the flyer in the first place.]
For recent articles on grammar, please see a critique of Jon Gingerich's erroneous rules on language in these two blog posts:
Unlearned Pedants (Segment 1)
Unlearned Pedants (Segment 2)