Too harsh a sentence

June 5, 1998

DIANE McGuinness writes that half the country's adults remain poor readers and that children's writing is way behind their reading (Perspective, THES, May 29).

It would seem that some at least of those 50 per cent poor readers are not excluded from the university population. I have compiled the following sentence from a choice selection of misspellings offered by first-year students of English in an examination this summer, they were writing on Chaucer's Canterbury Tales.

"On this pilgrammage to Canturbury just after the numonic Great Plauge, the cleaver student trys not to preech so he tells a tail which is not interlectual or full of learning. It is an explaination of the affect of obediance and loyality in maraige. This is his oppurtunity to exsentuate good speach, instead of a boardy fablio about a lecturous old man."

My guess is that this is typical of very many undergraduates these days. The old and lecturous, desperately trying to maintain an overstretched higher education system, had better keep a sharp eye out for the cleaver students.

Rosamund Allen School of English and Drama Queen Mary and Westfield College

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