What to do to be ac­cepted

The Morning Bulletin - - YOUR SAY - — Al Byr­nand, Wan­dal

I STUM­BLED upon an in­ter­net gem when brush­ing up on some gram­mat­i­cal skills – which at my age get, un­der­stand­ably, rusty.

A com­puter sci­ence stu­dent in Is­rael de­vel­oped a com­put­erised learn­ing sys­tem, part of which was an app that de­tected sar­casm, irony etc in mes­sages.

It is some­thing of a shame that elec­tronic de­vices are now filling the gaps left by a re­treat­ing, com­pre­hen­sive ed­u­ca­tion.

I have first-hand ex­pe­ri­ence of well-mean­ing edi­tors re­plac­ing a pithy irony in the ti­tle of an ar­ti­cle with the some­what plod­ding lan­guage of a Grade 3 reader.

From my po­si­tion as a con­trib­u­tor, it is not my place to dic­tate to any­one – es­pe­cially as that at­ti­tude might pre­vent my ar­ti­cles from mak­ing it to the printed page! But I do won­der if I should do as a friend re­cently ad­vised: “write down to the low­est com­mon de­nom­i­na­tor and you will be more ac­cept­able”.

In think­ing about what he said, I recog­nised a cer­tain un­com­fort­able truth that we might not re­ally care to con­sider.

Maybe we have been ‘dumbed down’ over time but it might be in­cum­bent upon those who write to try to lift the un­der­stand­ing and use of our lan­guage be­fore more of it dis­ap­pears into the ‘e-ther’!


SHAR­ING THE MES­SAGE: Let­ter writer Al Byr­nand (in­set) fears he may have to “write down to the low­est com­mon de­nom­i­na­tor”.

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