[Just a lil stream of consciousness rant. . . ]
One thing the Internet is really good for: revealing the extent of subliteracy1 in society. Small example: folks who misuse as nouns compound words that are adjectives, instead of using the separate adjective/noun phrase that applies, or who misuse adverbs that have been formed as compound words instead of using the adverb/verb phrase that is appropriate. FarceBook yields a good example. It offers “Log in” to, urm, log in but offers the noun, “logout,” for the action of logging out, instead of “log out,” as it ought. Other examples are almost endless, it seems.
“War monger” when the word is “warmonger.”
“Backseat” (adjective) when referring to a “back seat.”
“Nevermind” (*gagamaggot*–an almost sure sign of a 20-something nearly illiterate grup; still useful when writing archaic dialog, though meaning not at all what the aforementioned grups might intend) instead of “never mind.”
“Alot” (which is a “word” only in the nearly non-existant minds of self-made morons) instead of “a lot.”
Misuse of “altogether” (a perfectly useful word meaning “entirely” in place of “all together” (something like “as a group”).
Misuse of “everyday” (adjective: commonplace, quotidian) for “every day” (a regular, daily occurrence).
And, of course, the plethora of examples of verb phrases versus compound nouns that poorly-read people get wrong with fair consistency, because they have never (or have not often enough) read examples used correctly.
When I read things like this in someone’s text, I can be fairly certain that they are lazy thinkers who have not bothered to do their basic homework (that is, bother to become literate) before committing their slop to text.
Of course, these little indicators are just part of the package, and more subliteracy indicators await the conscious reader. Still, these canaries can give a quick tip to careful readers that the oxygen’s being replaced with toxic fumes in whatever text they contain.
Thank you, Internet, for showing the true value of a hyper-democratic society: a rush to the bottom of an ever lower common denominator.
A slightly different problem, of course, is dumbass illiterates misusing words they think they know the meanings of, and we’ve probably all seen a bellyfull of this. From the mother country of the English language, published recently in a “professionally edited,” internationally read newsrag, this:
“Each date was captured on camera, with the ‘big reveal’ illiciting [sic] wildly different reactions from the women. While some find it funny, at least two of the women struggle to hide their disappointment at Joe’s conceit [sic].”
THAT got published?!? *gagamaggot* No wonder illiteracy in English is rampant. . . and not just in the US.
1subliteracy: a neologism I have not seen elsewhere, though someone else must certainly use it, intended to convey just what it appears to convey: a condition of poor literacy that does not approach a standard that could be reasonably called “literacy” by any honest person. Subliterates can generally puzzle out the words formed by letters, though they often have only vague ideas–if any at all–what the words they have puzzled out actually mean. And in those cases where subliterates do know words’ meanings, their reading vocabulary is vastly overshadowed by their oral vocabulary, rendering their own attempts to reproduce what they have heard (quite often from those who, like them, are not at all well-read) incorrect.
Gross examples of this are simple misused words such as using “then” for “than” (or vice versa) or any of the plethora of sadly laughable misuses regularly promulgated in social media, blogs, discussion lists and even Mass MEdia Podpeople Hivemind “professionally” written and edited subliterate crap.
But a sure sign of subliteracy–chiefly of being exceedingly poorly read–is this problem of either misuse of compound words or the failure to use a common compound word where it is appropriate. This is a common failing of poorly-read writers.
Remember: Literacy of College Graduates Is on Decline
Cluebat: Things are no better in 2015 than they were in 2005 when that WaPo article was written about the 2003 NAAL. In fact, the 2003 NAAL data (not the Ed Department spin on the data) showed the situation to be worse than the article states, because the “complex text” that “recent college graduates” couldn’t read and comprehend included bus schedules, want ads and med instructions as found on prescription med bottles.
Do note: I do not consider myself as well read as either of my grandfathers, for example. Just saying.