Francis Bennion portrait

Home

Human Rights

Law

Politics & Government

Professionalism

Sexual Ethics

Religion & Belief

Poetry Fiction Drama Other

About FB

Google

www this site

SITEMAP

 

ABOUT FB

. . CV

. . Autobiographical

. . Life photos

. . FB's Scrapbook

 

WRITINGS BY FB

. . Chronological

. . Complete list

. . The Bennion Code

. . FB books

. . FB articles etc.

. . FB press letters

. . Book reviews

. . Blogs

. . Archive

. . Acts mentioned

. . People mentioned

 

WRITINGS BY OTHERS

. . Chronological

. . Index

. . Press cuttings

. . Reviews-FB books

. .

OTHER MATERIAL

. . Photograph Album

. . Document list

. . Audio and video

 

Abbreviations

 

 

Note:Francis Bennion sadly died on 28 January 2015.

Contact Webmaster

 

Copyright

Disclaimer

 

Acrobat reader
     

Letters to The Spectator

 

English: Prescriptive or Descriptive?

 

304 The Spectator

(4 August 2007) 25

Doc. No. 2007.019

 

English Lessons

Sir,

 

Graham Lord (article last week) gives a clue to the increase in use of bad English when he points out that recent immigrants from Poland and the Baltic countries speak our language much better than many of our own young people do. The reason is that the incomers have been taught by people who think it important to use correct English. That does not apply to some teaching in our state school system today.

 

Jennifer Coates, Professor of English and Linguistics at Roehampton University, recently wrote in the TLS “All linguistic researchers agree that it is not their task to prescribe how people should speak or write: the linguistician’s task is to describe language as it is actually used.”

 

David Crystal, author more than 100 books on English, says people like Lynne Truss are equivalent to 19th–century quacks. He rejects prescriptivism as elitist, arising from the class-conscious belief that some people’s usage is better than others. He scornfully dismisses reformers he calls “Trussians”.

 

This attitude is linked to the modern cult of being “non-judgemental” and putting educated and uneducated speech on the same level of esteem, so as to avoid hurting anyone’s feelings. There are other features of our modern society that can be linked to the problem about which Mr Lord so graphically complains.

 

Francis Bennion

Chairman Emeritus, Professional Association of Teachers.