Standards? What Standards?

There are those who delight in telling us that standards of written English are falling, and that it’s all the fault of the wicked internet and texting. What they don’t tell us is in what past golden age standards were supposed to have been at their zenith. Do they, perhaps, have in mind examples such as this, a letter which Charles Dickens commented on in ‘Household Words’ in the issue of 24 August, 1850?

Deer mother and father ad sisters i root thes few lines hooping to find you All well for I arr in gudd halth my self and I wood root befor onley i wos very un setled and now i have root I houp you will rite back as soon as you can and send how you all arr and likewise our frends and I am hired my self for a sheeprd 12 munts for 19 pound and my keep too for it was to soun for our work when I arrive in the country it is a plesent and helthay cuntry and most peple dows well in it as liks onley it is a grait country for durnkerds . . .

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6 Comments

Filed under English Language

6 responses to “Standards? What Standards?

  1. As I read this to myself I became painfully aware that I was doing so in the voice of Officer Crabtree from ‘ ‘Ello ‘Ello’.

    What ever did Mr Dickens make of it?

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  2. He said it was:

    ‘a lesson and a censure on that want of national means of education from which at least one-third of the adult population of England suffer, and of which the writer is an especial victim and example.’

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  3. Dw

    Standarda were at their zenith when the speaker was in the first flush of young adulthood.

    Applies to everything, not just language.

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