WHAT is happening to our language? Poor English, bad grammar and a flagrant disregard for correct use of the apostrophe seem to be part of 21st Century life.
And, the worst of it is that no-one seems to care. Well, few of us do.
The misuse of apostrophes – last week I passed a nice-looking shop offering ‘Ceramic’s for sale’ – seems to have morphed into its complete removal.
Mothers Day missed out recently, with many a sign omitting the apostrophe, as did literature I was handed at the station advertising ‘International Women’s Day’.
Disturbingly, in the south-west, Mid-Devon district council considered banning apostrophes on street signs to avoid possible confusion. Officials in the town of Tiverton were about to remove them from street names, until the news hit the headlines and they hastily revised their plans. At least in this case, people cared enough to spark an outcry.
My children, and others I know of, learned to read using, among other means, road signs. It adds punctuation adds to their learning.
But many youngsters haven’t the first idea how to use it. They don't appear to cover it at school, and, of course, they never use it to text.
On mobile phones, children and adult use commas, semi-colons and other punctuation marks to draw smiley faces, Easter bunnies and other funny little greetings.
There also seems to be major adaptations to grammar. I keep hearing people say ‘she was sat,’ or ‘they were sat’. Shouldn’t that be sitting?
I had brilliant English teachers and I'm absolutely sure that in my day the past tense was SITTING. You don’t say: ‘She was eat’ or. ‘She was sleep’. Although if you’re under 25 you probably do.
I’ve grown increasingly confused since coming across this in a reputable newspaper. Maybe I’m wrong.
Then there are adaptations to language itself. Like ‘very fun’. To me that phrase doesn’t make sense. My daughters use it all the time. “It was very fun”, they will say after going out with friends. “That should be ‘great fun’ I will say, “or it was so much fun”. They miss out words that render sentences weird and, I hate to say, text-like.
I’m not saying that my command of the language is perfect. Even after more than 25 years in journalism I still turn to colleagues to ask: “Is it ‘its’ or ‘it’s’, or ‘who or whom’, but at least I try. And, crucially, I know that there is a right.
It’s all too depressing for words. So instead I’ll join the semi-literate masses and put :(