Language of Despair; Letters

Daily Mail (London), November 18, 2010 | Go to article overview

Language of Despair; Letters


Language of despair iT'S noT the spelling and grammar used by candidates sitting higher english which should be our only cause for concern (Mail). Proof readers must encounter copy every day which fails to make the proper distinction between, for example, the noun 'practice' and the verb 'practise' or the adjective 'dependent' and the noun 'dependant' -- the mistakes spellcheckers are sometimes unable to detect.

My loathing is the widespread misuse of the words 'disinterested' and 'uninterested' and the ubiquitous 'you done', which i heard Alesha Dixon on Strictly Come Dancing say.

it pains me to say that, this year, i have received two letters from the principal of my alma mater, the University of Glasgow, which sought a financial contribution from me as such contributions have 'benefitted' (not benefited) the university in the past.

in 1978, when i embarked on my MA degree course, one of the first lectures on orthography i attended (delivered by the then head of the english language department) stressed how important it was to spell words such as 'benefited', 'fulfil' and 'accommodation' correctly.

When Professor Samuels returned a marked essay on the Scandinavian influence on the english language to me shortly after my 17th birthday, he momentarily sapped the small amount of confidence i had (as i had attended a state school in a deprived area of Glasgow and, unlike other students, was not surrounded with numerous former school friends at university).

he had circled my misspelling 'Scandanavian' at least a dozen times with red ink and i resolved there and then never to make another spelling mistake as long as i lived. …

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