Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The sky is falling! The sky is falling!

I recently read IT'S LIKE, YEAH, WHAT, YOU KNOW ..AND THAT. The article claims teens in the UK are becoming more illiterate. I thought, yes another sign of the decline of education.

The article started with:

"TEENAGERS use just 20 words for a third of everything they say, research reveals."

and goes on to say that Tony McEnery, a Linguistics professor at Lancaster University, reported that teenagers use fewer words for everyday speech. Here are the top twenty words: "You, I, The, And, It, A, To, Yeah, That, What, No, In, Know, He, Of, It's, Oh, Is, Like, On."

I did a little search on the internet and came across a rebuttal. Mark Liberman of Language Log claims Britain's scientists risk becoming hypocritical laughing-stocks, research suggests. The basic point is even highly educated people use the same words about 30% of the time.

I dug around the internet a bit and found this Word Frequency Counter. I copied in our posts for the month of December, 2007. Janine and I wrote just under 10,000 words, with 2017 different words. Here are our top twenty:

"the, to, a, of, and, is, in, this, for, education, i, by, home, children, homeschooling, school, post, carnival, that, are"

These words make up 28% of our posts.

One lesson here is that the news can be wrong, or at least misleading.

But then you already knew that, right?

Technorati tags: media, language

1 comment:

CK Rock said...

Kudos to you for not jumping on the bandwagon with this one, especially because the article (if true) would have matched your views on education.

I think we need to be more questioning when scare stories like that are thrown about.