Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Not another preschool ad!

Stuffed into my letter box recently was yet another preschool promotional flyer, this time by Learning Vision. What surprises me is Learning Vision takes in really young children - infants who are only two months old. What can one possibly teach a baby of that age? But whatever the preschool's ability may be in communicating with babies of such a tender age, I am tempted to think after having read the ad that perhaps it is less effective when communicating with parents.

Here is the ad:

You may not be able to read the words but the first sentence reads:

This is without a doubt the kind of sloppy language you would not expect to see in a preschool ad. '2 months' is a period of time, not a child who is 2 months old. 

I would have dismissed this error as a mere oversight if there weren't other mistakes. Just turn over the page and you will see this sentence:

When my kids were very young, I used to tell them that those who wrote such a sentence had poor coordination.  I'm pretty sure they didn't get the pun. But all I did was to make a joke about it because contrary to what some of my friends think, grammar and usage are not important to me. As long as the meaning is clear, I have no problem with it. However, this is the kind of sentence that is sure to cause outrage among those to whom correct English means everything.

Where do you stand on this? Do you think such a sentence is all right for a preschool to publish in its ad? If the only function of the English language is communication, the sentence is fine because I doubt very much anybody can possibly fail to understand it. But if you expect a school to communicate using only 'correct' English, you will probably be unhappy with this ad. But 'incorrect' is too judgmental a word in today's world in which it is wrong to tell anybody the sentence he's written is ungrammatical or incorrect. Grammarians of the early 20th century were more spirited and they were quick to label such a sentence 'illiterate'. My favourite grammarian of the early 20th century was even more colourful in his language which sometimes comes dangerously close to what feminists today would no doubt term 'sexist language'.  In a discussion of a word that is commonly misused, he wrote that only women and children made such a mistake.

I'm the last person anyone can legitimately call a pedant. I don't wish to make any judgment on this sentence by Learning Vision and so I'll just borrow the words of that great grammarian, the late Lord Randolph Quirk who, after examining two similar sentences, says that 'such sentences are likely to occur in the impromptu use of language, but will be "corrected" in the more considered and especially in the written use of language.' But Learning Vision's sentence remains uncorrected and it appears not only in print but also in a glossy colourful expensive-looking cardboard ad. And what is more - it's an ad inviting parents to their 'islandwide open day' which took place three days ago and like any preschool, it's probably eager to attract parents with young kids. Surely it's the duty of a preschool to assure parents that it uses only grammatical English  when teaching children? Not all parents are as tolerant as me and I'm sure there are many who will write off a preschool that makes two language errors in a single ad.

This is not the only preschool ad that I've looked at. My letter box seems to attract such ads. In this blog, I have written about the ads of other preschools including four different ads by the Pat's Schoolhouse, each one of which contains some grammatical error. If you would like to read more about such errors, please click here and you will be taken to a page in which all my blog posts on language are listed and divided into categories. For example, articles on the advertisements of Pat's Schoolhouse are listed under Section 1 M. The Speak Good English Movement (SGEM) makes the most grammatical mistakes (many of which are so shocking that you won't believe even a child would make them) and articles about the SGEM's errors occupy Section 1 A which is a tremendously long list and you really have to scroll down quite a bit just to get out of the SGEM's list.

No comments:

Post a Comment