New meaning

24th April 2009 at 01:00

When English is one of the core subjects of the national curriculum, it is frustrating to discover that Sir Alan Steer wants to change the meaning of established words in our language ("Satisfactory is no longer good enough", April 17). Satisfactory apparently is now its own opposite - unsatisfactory.

By implication, he requires a change of meaning in other words: good becomes satisfactory, and very good is now good. Presumably excellent is almost unattainable, much to the chagrin of high-flying schools. But joy comes to the less successful schools, for their unsatisfactory is now satisfactory and therefore what my Compact Oxford English Dictionary defines as "fulfilling expectations or needs - acceptable".

Dr Tony Wenman, Claygate, Surrey.

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