Well, that's not so horrible, is it? You'd expect vocabs to increase with time as individuals are exposed to more words. (Mine, on the other hand, is decreasing as I'm exposed to more first year essays.) But McEnery found that a third of teenage conversation was composed of only twenty words, including yeah, no and but. Hmmm ... Sounds familiar.
McEnery argues that whereas schools are partly to blame, technology is the main source of the problem. Use of iPods, PCs and other personal devices discourages teenagers from verbal communication.
- "This trend, known as technology isolation syndrome, could lead to problems in the classroom and then later in life.
Technophile sites, such as Ars Technica, defend the iPods and identify the curriculum as faulty.
- The debate is really one about the place of rhetoric in education and public life. Though a core part of the Renaissance curriculum, debate and public speaking have gradually faded from prominence at most schools, replaced with an approach better suited to stuffing large amounts of information into large numbers of students as though they are Christmas turkeys. McEnery's report suggests bringing speech, rhetoric, and debate back into schoolrooms, but having all the students talk takes time, and time is money, and money is scarce.
(I deal with older teenagers, of course, and I like the idea of stuffing large amounts of information into them. But I'm afraid we're dribbling smaller and smaller amounts into them. I digress.)
British hypermarket chain Tesco funded the research.
According to a BBC article:
- Tesco, which commissioned the report, said it was responding by launching a scheme which allows all UK comprehensive schools to interact and communicate with other schools around the country using its internet phone technology.
Jolly decent of them too. But Wikipedia tells us that Tesco has a bit of a history ...
- The stores' signage displays non-standard grammar. Each store advertises (among other items) "mens magazines", "girls toys", "kids books", "womens shoes" and "Chart DVD's". The author Bill Bryson lambasts Tesco for apostrophe misuse in his book Troublesome Words, stating, "The mistake is inexcusable and those who make it are linguistic Neanderthals." In August 2006 Tesco released a television advertising campaign to persuade people to use fewer non-recyclable plastic carrier bags, which included the non-standard grammar "use less bags".
But that's another story ...
Thanks to Duncan for the link.