ABC language researcher Tiger Webb encourages the relaxation of language standards:

For a certain kind of language critic, highlighting errors of punctuation is a sport unto itself.

It is rare for a week to go by without some kind of punc-mark complaint gracing my inbox.

“What has gone wrong with the ABC? Your reporters do not have even basic knowledge of the use of apostrophes,” reads one of the latest.

Like most who engage in such jeremiads, this complainant was certain that the inability to adhere to English punctuation conventions was not only newfound, but increasing each passing year.

“You are quite literally contributing to the rising rates of illiteracy within Australia,” they concluded.

A heady charge, and one tinged with presentism — people have been making it since at least the 1930s.

Given the ABC’s cavalier approach to factual reporting, it’s hardly surprising the national broadcaster favours the abolition of the apostrophe.

One thought on “DUMBING DOWN

  1. This really got my goat too. I’m not a stickler or a snob and I’m not an example of good style and following the rules, but I instinctively dislike the desire to give in and dumb down. If apostrophes are abolished, the people who struggle with them will simply struggle with something else (they certainly already do). He is also quite mistaken about the German spelling reforms, which are not at all (to my mind) analogous to what he proposes for the apostrophe and which were also not so uncontroversial as he claims. Moreover, there are still a massive rump of people in this country who have simply ignored some of the reforms (e.g. the standardisation of “ss” and “ß”: many if not most middle-aged and older people still write daß instead of dass). I realise that I am overreacting to a poorly written feature article that likely barely even anyone read, but something about it is just so damn irritating.


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