Letter: Standard English is common sense

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The Independent Online
SIR Randolph Quirk ('More than just talking proper', 18 April) expresses a common-sense view of the meaning and value of Standard English. Lynn Barber, with no lack of command herself of Standard English, expresses a quite silly view of the same subject in her column (18 April).

I spent my entire working life in the manufacturing industry. In that time I came into contact with the gamut of industrial literature: letters and memoranda, technical reports, feasibility studies, strategic appraisals, marketing agreements, sales contracts, joint venture agreements, annual reports and many, many more papers of all kinds. The written word is still the prime medium of communication in industry.

How can Lynn Barber suggest that teaching a common language basis is unimportant, or even that dyslexia is not a handicap?

But I would caution anyone who yearns for a return to the 'good old days'. My School Certificate English literature and English language of 1944 did not serve me well in my career. What literacy I have, I owe to American books on technical writing that I read 35 years ago. There is scope in technical and business writing for some style, but reading Macbeth at school, as I did, is not helpful training.

G F Steele

Ipswich, Suffolk

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