Alienating the young with absurd language

It is gratifying to read how West Dunbartonshire has achieved "astonishing success" with its literacy initiative (ScotlandPlus last week).

I wonder whether it should not be equally acclaimed for striving to ensure that children from the second most socially disadvantaged authority in Scotland are able to acquit themselves competently in more refined circles.

Once they have completed the word reading test (Burt 1974 revision - part of the baseline assessment), these aspiring four, five and six-year-olds will no doubt be keen to make use of their learning. After "perambulating" the dinner hall, they may make vain attempts to order "champagne" with their "luncheon". Those who are "constitutionally" "phlegma-tic" will be able to conceal their "palpable" "melancholy" without resorting to "melodrama", although the "poignancy" may yet remain.

They will also be well equipped to deal with all those coughs and sneezes so frequently suffered by those new to a school environment. By enquiring if the "contagion" causing their "fatigue" could possibly be "phthisis", we can see them "ingratiating" themselves with their "physician" by the "subtlety" of their "terminology". Alternatively, they may simply "alienate" him or her through the "eccentricity" of their "fallacious" "theory" and provoke a "contemptuous" response.

I am curious to know which reading scheme would be considered appropriate to support this vocabulary in context. The complete works of Jane Austen, perhaps?

Christine Rice

Riverview Crescent



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