Date: Tue, 8 Nov 1994 15:28:02 -0600

From: "Timothy C. Frazer" mftcf[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]UXA.ECN.BGU.EDU

Subject: Re: Them singulars

On Tue, 8 Nov 1994, Bob Lancaster wrote:

Uncertain or

impenetrable syntactic structures are familiar to all of us who have read

student writing in the last two or three decades at least. I would agree that

"grammatical" structure has not suffered a general breakdownQ(and of course

that good usage in general reflects only the usage of careful speakers

I know what you mean, of course, Bob. And lot of what we see in student

writing might represent real linguistic events like inflectional loss,

consonant cluster reduction, homophony (weather/whether; where/were/wear).

But a lot of it, too, isn't so much structural as a result of trial and

error atempts to create stuctures they think they know but don't, or

attempts to sound formal. Much of this is a literacy issue; contemporary

students don't come from backgrounds which value literacy. (I polled a

class of juniors a few years ago -- these were mostly computer science

and ag majors--and asked them to list the books they'd read in the past

five years, excluding college texts. About half answered 0; one replied

"I hate to read.")

I react to student writing as you do. I am getting tired of assigning it.

It makes me think of early retirement.