Why is it that so many people in their twenties have v little understanding of English grammar or basic sentence construction? Aaaaaaagh.
This provoked a massive reaction. Most people agreed with me but others - wait for it - blamed it on Conservative education policies, conveniently ignoring the fact that most people in their 20s would have spent their entire secondary school careers educated under Labour.
It is far more complicated than that. Before i go on, here are some of the tweets which responded to mine...
ssap9rulesok: @iaindale because teachers have betrayed kids by telling them it's not important. And they all wonder why they end up in call centres...
CllrLukeEllis: @iaindale "why are so many people in their 20's bad at English?" maybe coz Thatcher uzed to run our skools Ian. Remymber ? Nicked our milk2
allpointsnorth: @iaindale every generation thinks they was taught betterer than the last won. Fact of live.
AJRyland: @iaindale Coz dey is 2 kool, init doe? Gosh, I feel dirty now... One of the few 20-somethings who can use our language!
DJLazarus: @iaindale I can answer that in four words, mate. "New Labour's Education Philosophy." I try my best to not let it depress me!
penn48: @iaindale Bring back Latin into the school curriculum: that'll sort them out.
douglasmclellan: @iaindale Because we were not taught it at school. I am 33 and in a reasonable job. I could not even tell you what a noun, verb, etc. is.
eddiethomas: @iaindale It's quite extraordinary, isn't it? It's frighteningly common amongst university graduates, too.
AdamGrayTweets: @iaindale Thay ain't got no edukashon; dat.s wy! Butt it aint know beter wiv Thatcher's childrens jeneration, innit?
I do think that people in this country suffer from an appalling lack of competence in basic English grammar. In other European countries grammar is still taught. But our education system frowns on anything so regimented. It's "unprogressive", apparently.
I'm not saying my grammar is perfect - and no doubt people in the comments will find fault with something I have written in this blogpost - but I do know what a noun or a verb is. I ought to. I studied linguistics for my degree (something I would not recommend to anyone). However, the main reason I have more than a basic understanding of English grammar is that I learnt German at school. That may sound odd, but if you don't learn or understand German grammar it is incredibly difficult to speak the language properly, and if you understand German grammar it then gives you a good understanding of English grammar. The same goes for French.
The fact that the teaching of foreign languages has declined by about 50% over the last ten years has undoubtedly had a knock on effect. If kids aren't learning languages, they're not learning grammar.
The fact that language learning in this country has declined in such a way ought to be seen as a national disgrace and a national embarrassment. Just because most other people now speak English is no excuse to ignore the need to learn other people's languages.
There is one way in which politicians of both parties are to blame for the fact that kids leave school without a basic grasp of written English. They have allowed the so-called "progressive" educationalists to retain their vice like grip on how English is taught in schools. These "progressives" have overseen a decline in standards in many subjects, not just English, but it's in the written word where it becomes apparent. Students are given 'A' grades even when their work contains large numbers of basic grammatical errors. It's as if basic sentence construction doesn't matter anymore. Or that putting an apostrophe in the wrong place is OK.
Everyone can be forgiven the odd error. I'm sure Dickens and Shakespeare didn't get it right all the time, but when high grades are awarded for work which contains errors in every paragraph, surely we should question that.
I'd love to see a politician really get to grips with this issue and take on the educationalists who believe that it is fine to write grammatically incoherent sentences.
So to Michael Gove, Nick Gibb and Sarah Teather, I ask this. Are you up for the challenge?
NB: The errors in the title are deliberate, before anyone asks...