Is it just me? Lately many of the things I read contain glaring errors. It first hit me while reading Tim Tyler's Memetics.
"If memetics explains only explains the imitation of observed behavior, ..." (p 96)
"Perhaps biological an cultural differ..." (p 173)
"Genetic engineers can now take information form wherever they like..."
"However, not everyone seems agree that ..." (both on p 184)
"The upright gait hypothesis hypothesis is interesting for several reasons." (p 206)
I thought, "Didn't the editor even read this? Who was this?" But, lo, no editor was credited. There was no editor! Is this a new cost-cutting trend in publishing?
But the news lately has been just as bad.
It is original from the Andean area of South Africa and widely grown in both the north of Chile and Argentina and the south Mexico, especially Ecuador.
That sample was from today's Science Daily. Yesterday I noticed four or five glaring errors. This is disorienting, even a little scary. Has literacy decline has crossed a tipping point?
In the 6th grade, when my teacher, Miss Rousseau and principal, Mr. Wildey had their debate about commas, I don't remember the correct options, I only remember they debated. Well, I will have to turn to resources suggested by my friends here and mentally return to 6th grade English class; Miss Rousseau will have her hand on my hair and give me a tug when I make mistakes! My one and only interest was science.
Everyone here has already made wonderful and valid points. I want to add onto this. There are now more non-native speakers of English than native. Due to English's adaptability and integration into multiple cultures, we now live in a world with multiple Englishes, not just British, Standard American, or Aussie. Take, for instance, where I live: Japan. There are times when I have to take a step back and realize that if I teach the "proper" way of a grammar point, the student may end up missing a point on her entrance exam, when it comes to going to university.
Other blatant errors are sometimes taught, because it's a carry-over from how Japanese sentence structure is framed.
Students learn in middle school, the following:
I like ____.
Because it's very _____.
Oh, the fragments! I try very hard to teach my girls to work around this error they've been taught. The easiest way is:
I like ____.
It's because it's very _____.
From there, I can sometimes get them to go to:
I like ____ because it's very _____.
But, the reason it's taught like that in the first place is because 'because' in Japanese does not work the same as it does in English. It doesn't cause a fragment, in Japanese. That it does in English can be a difficult concept to get across.
Another science writing example.
Our work can is also applicable to...
It almost sounds like LOLspeak, as in "I can haz cheezburger?"
Today's science writing gem:
"Ruthenium is costly are rare,...
Professor Brian Huntley says mammoths and wooly rhinos were charismatic.
Without trees to contend with, smaller plants and shrubs would have thrived, providing an ideal diet for large, charismatic mammals.
'There would have been many productive herbaceous and fruiting plants,' says Huntley. 'These would have been able to support large numbers of big mammals like mammoths and woolly rhinos.' [emphasis mine]
Too bad we won't have a charismatic wooly mammoth around in time for the next election. It would sweep the Republicans off their feet! :-P
Yet another example from a science article, demonstrating that spelling checkers are no substitute for actual proofreading:
"As for how the world's roundest objects were made [...] computer-guided lasers measured each for slight derivations that were corrected individually."
From "'World's Roundest Object' May Provide New Definition Of Standard Kil...", The Huffington Post, describing efforts to update the standard to not depend on a physical object in a vault in Paris. "[R]esearchers [...] are crafting nearly perfect spheres made of a highly pure and very stable form of silicon. By calculating the sphere's volume and weight, scientists should be able to determine the exact number of silicon atoms in the object itself, thereby providing an unchanging definition for the mass of a kilogram."
That is so clever! I never think of things like that!
Cat, that's because they hire minimally educated employees at minimum wage! Well, in reality, learning to spell and punctuate English requires the memorization of many irregular words, PLUS the knowledge of phonics that many elementary teachers don't know themselves, so they ONLY rely on memorization. Which is foolish, because a person just can't remember all those words, and their permutations. I have met a few teachers who did know phonic rules (drives me crazy when people refer to this as phonetics!), and were able to instill those rules into their pupils. More time ought to be spent on learning how the written language works, and less time on rote spelling tests. But you're still going to see mistakes, because English is HARD! :-)