Language Arts….the Lost Art?

23 Feb

I teach courses at a university.  At the university level, I’ve been surprised at times at the writing level of some of my students.  To be sure, many are quite competent, however, there is an alarming number of those who seem to make very elementary mistakes that should probably not be happening in a college course.  (Indeed, my first semester evaluating papers for a 200-level course was absolutely apalling.)

Here are some that I’ve extracted from various papers/assignments.  These are a little interesting because they are not simply grammatical mistakes such as comma use (see above comic for that) or funny misspellings.

These are mistakes in actual understanding of language in terms of words and phrasing (and lack of knowledge).  To me, this indicates that there are a great deal of people who are hearing, using, and understanding entire words and phrases incorrectly.  It’s not simply the difference between “your” and “you’re” or poor editing habits.  Read on, you’ll see what I mean…

“To put this in laments terms…”    Ohhhh, you must mean “to put this in layman’s terms…”  Almost the same thing.

“…she knew that thin legs and waste equaled the ideal ballerina…”  Gee, I hope that you just made an “oops” and weren’t making some sort of sick pun…

“When it comes to expanding further the depth of players in the NBA the concrete examples are lacked.”  Your guess is as good as mine…

“The best way to achieve abstinence among young adults is to have a critical amount of meaning, not too many and not too less.”  *Nails on chalkboard*

“…truth be told that African Americans continue to dominant when it comes to the NBA.”  I believe that’s dominATE (or BE dominant).

“inadamant objects”  Those objects that aren’t alive or moving are called inanimate objects…

“He had a lot of great imput.”  Benefit of the doubt would be a misspelling, but based on the rest of the evidence presented in the paper, I’m not so sure…

“I believe that this film portrays some aspects of impersonal impact. ‘It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.'”  – Ahhh, interpersonal impact.  Got it.

“…expemplified his desire to be a legacy like his inspiration Babe Ruth…”  “…steal home base in the World Series game to win the game and live forever as a legacy.”  I’m not so sure if this person understands legacy vs. legend

Benjamin Franklin Rodgriguez.  “I feel with Benny’s full name being mentioned and his last name being Rodriguez, this quote shows how America is built on a nation of immigrants and diversity. Benny embodies this through his name representing both an American president and of being of Spanish origin.”  Wait a second – was Ben Franklin a president… 

Are we not underlining or italicizing movie or book titles anymore??


This is a hodge podge of random (and somewhat strange) mistakes that I have happened to catch and remember when I’m around my computer.  There have been many, many more that were simply not convenient for me to write down at the time. It’s not meant to be a “gotcha” post from a pretentious instructor tearing apart papers.  Instead, it’s an illustration of some of the oddities that I’ve seen as I’ve read through many papers.  This also isn’t necessarily a reflection of students’ poor editing skills or lack of attention to detail/proofreading.  Again, I think it shows a somewhat bizarre lack of word and phrase usage.

I’m sure that I’ll post more as I move forward.  Until then, remember that good grammar and language skills are sexy:

Help save the lost art of language arts (you know, proper English)!

1 Comment

Posted by on February 23, 2012 in Advice, sociology, Uncategorized


Tags: , , , , , ,

One response to “Language Arts….the Lost Art?

  1. thatwritinglady

    March 4, 2012 at 2:43 PM

    Eep! These are hilarious and sad, and I love that Oxford comma cartoon (I’ve been defending the Oxford comma for years to no avail–this might help me make my case). Thanks for sharing!



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