Monday, December 08, 2008

The Bride of Anguished English by Richard Lederer

This was the wrong book to read after grading about 80 research papers from four sections of Freshman Composition.

Students these days do not read. The first day of every class i have them fill out an index card as a sort of ice breaker. One of the questions is "What was the last book you have read for fun?"

The last semester or two, more than half have said they do not read or hate to read. Another third reads car, hunting, or fashion/gossip magazines. A precious few read a real novel, and it shows in their writing. They simply have no feel for the language. The humor in this book would be completely lost on them.

Here is an example from a late paper I graded today. "The war in Iraq has caused more warfare than any war we have ever fought in or not." Going over the paper, I read her that sentence and asked her if it sounded okay. She shrugged her shoulders and said, "Yes."

So I was not in any mood to laugh at these sorts of things.

That aside, many, many of the slips he lists I have heard on the Internet or from colleagues down the hall. Some had the feel of written jokes. For example, a student explains his report card as being "under water" -- "below 'C' level."

Maybe next semester will be better. Probably not.

--Chiron, 12/8/08

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