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Things you just don't get

Discussion in 'General Chat' started by tiecollector, Jul 3, 2009.

  1. L'Incandescent

    L'Incandescent Senior member

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    I teach junior and senior journalism and public relations students in Mass Comm classes from time to time, though it's not my main gig. I am shocked every time at their inability to express themselves in written English. And I don't mean things like the who/whom distinction or even proper adverb usage. The most frequent comment I write on their papers is "I don't know what you mean here." I literally cannot figure out what they are trying to say. I think Gibonius is right: a large part of the problem is that students don't read as much good writing as they used to. (Or "use to," as my students prefer to write it.)
     


  2. Gibonius

    Gibonius Senior member

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    In an undergrad computer lab, I happened to glance at the computer of another student who was working on a term paper. The very first word of the paper was "While."

    I :facepalm:'d hard.



    The very worst writing I've ever seen is undergrad students trying to bullshit science papers. Look kids, I actually know what all those words mean, you aren't going to be able to jargon me into a coma and get a decent grade out of it. Either use the technical terms correctly or use plain English.
     


  3. Kid Nickels

    Kid Nickels Senior member

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    but not every adverb can be used in a flat form.... and how could that class have mandated NO adverbs. try reading something from The Economist or something like that and "flatten" all the adverbs..... they exist for a reason right? :paranoia:
     
    Last edited: May 18, 2012


  4. Kid Nickels

    Kid Nickels Senior member

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    +1 x infinity... like an actual book with pages made out of paper.... it's quite sad really.
     


  5. deadly7

    deadly7 Senior member

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    http://theoatmeal.com/tag/grammar

    You will enjoy some, if not all, of those.
     


  6. L'Incandescent

    L'Incandescent Senior member

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    Yup, that's a fun site!

    Just thought I'd add more to the point Gibonius made about young people not absorbing good English through the written word. Some of the mistakes I've seen lots of students make over the last two years or so are great examples.

    1. Students do not know how to make plurals or how to conjugate verbs. They write down what they hear, and if they do not hear a final s, they don't write it. So for example, when words have an s near the end, we don't pronounce the final s very strongly, if at all. So I see lots of students writing about how "journalist are forced to work under tight deadlines" and how "Hobbes insist that the state of nature is poor, solitary, nasty, brutish, and short." I can't imagine that I would have made these mistakes in third grade, but they are quite common now at the university level.

    2. Students leave off the final d in words where it's not pronounced very strongly. I'm always reading sentences about how the author is bias or how someone is prejudice. People are suppose to do this and use to do that.

    3. There are words that you'd think almost every native speaker would know how to spell, just because we see them all the time. I've been amazed this year at how many times I came across the word "rashonal."

    4. Lots of students do not know the distinction between then and than. Of course students have always had trouble with too and to but then/than is quite new. But I suppose they sound very similar in spoken English, so the students don't recognize that there's a distinction.
     


  7. Neo_Version 7

    Neo_Version 7 Senior member

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    Their. There. They're.

    Affect. Effect.
     


  8. L'Incandescent

    L'Incandescent Senior member

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    Just this last semester we were reading an author who used effect as a verb. I correctly assumed that my students would be confused, so I explained the meanings of those two words. One of my students--who was quite a good student, btw--got a big smile on her face. She said no one had ever taught her that before and she was very happy to learn it. The other students nodded in agreement. I was amazed by that. These are university students, and not even freshman, and no one had ever taught them such basic material. And I don't even teach English. I just explain that kind of stuff as it comes up.
     
    Last edited: May 19, 2012


  9. Neo_Version 7

    Neo_Version 7 Senior member

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    ^ I know you're not technically an English professor but what is your stance on ending a sentence with a preposition?
     


  10. L'Incandescent

    L'Incandescent Senior member

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    I don't think it's a great sin to end a sentence with a preposition. I let my ear guide me on that one; sometimes getting the preposition out of the end position results in a fussy, awkward-sounding sentence. I think it was Churchill who responded to a complaint about his putting a preposition at the end by saying "That is the kind of pedantry up with which I will not put."
     


  11. Gibonius

    Gibonius Senior member

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    I want to reach out through the Internet and strangle people whenever I see "your bias" used in place of "you're biased."

    Another good one is "prude" used in place of "prudish." Americans are prude. :facepalm:


    Reminded me: I had a student who sent me an email via her phone (I know because it included the stupid "Sent from my iPhone" tagline) and wrote everything in the adolescent texting language. She was asking me to increase her grade. Protip kids: if you're begging the professor to do something, take the extra 30 seconds and put everything into real English instead of idiot textspeak.
     
    Last edited: May 19, 2012


  12. Piobaire

    Piobaire Not left of center?

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    The point is mute.

    I hate this and it is rampant.
     


  13. L'Incandescent

    L'Incandescent Senior member

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    You should of done that; it would of frighten them.
     


  14. Fang66

    Fang66 Senior member

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    This is the worse one.
     


  15. Fang66

    Fang66 Senior member

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    Apocryphal, also in "put up with" with is not a preposition, it's part of the phrasal verb.
     
    Last edited: May 19, 2012


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