Invest wisely, beat the grammar snobs

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As I read the Daily Mail article referred to in my previous post, my eye drifted down into the comments, and I saw that a commenter in London signing himself as JustSomeBloke had said this:

Time and time again, it has been shown that the school's league tables are routinely fiddled in order to benefit this or that school. At the same time, our so-called education system — ruined by lefty, progressive teaching methods — can barely teach our children to write English properly. If your a younger reader, you probably didn't even notice the two deliberate mistakes in this comment.

Well, I am not a younger reader; I have 40 years of involvement in academic work on the English language. But I have to confess to you that it took a couple of readings before I spotted both errors. The second was immediately noticeable, but I had to go back and look again to identify the first, which I had casually read past.

Once you have identified both, you will notice how trivial the relevant features are (they do have something in common). It is hard to imagine anything quite as trivial about any language as what JustSomeBloke uses to highlight the failure of the "lefty, progressive teaching methods" that he despises.

If you want to impress small-minded educational snobs, then putting some time into the most intellectually trivial details of standard written English, the familiar grammatical and orthographic shibboleths, is a good investment.

[Comments? What, and have the very first one give away the errors that you are supposed to be trying to spot? No way.]

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