Lost in illiteracy

6th July 2001 at 01:00
ANN Slater (Letters, June 15: "Put full stop to this apostrophe misuse") suggested that advertisers should have to take the Teacher Training Agency literacy test. I'm an English teacher and do my share of speculating about the effect of the mass media on children's literacy. I'd always thought I was letting off steam but recent correspondence with Anglian Home Improvements suggests that we actually have a point.

I invited an Anglian representative to quote for new windows. He was punctual, pleasant and courteous but the glossy Anglian brochure he left contained more than 50 stylistic solecisms and punctuation errors. Sensing the chance to write myself a free window or two, I wrote to Larry Condon, the MD, suggesting that I put the offending text to rights.

The national marketing manager replied: "As you are an experienced English teacher, I understand your comments regarding the use of punctuation and grammar within our printed marketing material. However, I am sure you appreciate that within the advertising world, creative writing is not required to conform with conventional written English."

So what can one do?

Let the illiterati have their way. Let's sink into a pre-Johnsonian stew of individual spelling and frantic punctuation so that meaning can become even more elusive. Let's abandon surnames, as so many businesses do, so that we can all return to a state of Anglo-Saxon peasantry, but in comfort, with double-glazing.

Nigel Grant 47 Beechwood Avenue Chatham, Kent

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