It’s time to defend basic language standards

The author believes written English is hurtling toward linguistic chaos, ambiguity and confusion.

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Careful observers will note pervasive examples of the relaxation and shirking of standards for written English across an array of media. Following are several categories in which even professional writers seem unaware of basic precepts of good writing.

The velocity of change in what is considered acceptable written English has hastened, owing to the proliferation of resources available to the average person and the dynamics of the publishing industry. Due to the explosive increase in content produced by poorly trained writers (amateurs and professionals alike), as well as the decrease in rigorous editing, substandard writing spreads unchecked—with the following results.

Writers often, out of ignorance or apathy, close compound words that are treated as open and hyphenated in dictionaries and other linguistic resources. For instance, we increasingly see “life span” styled as lifespan and “time frame” written as timeframe, and, when mind-set and light-year appear, they’re rendered as mindset and lightyear. This rule bending has occurred for hundreds of years as a natural progression, but we appear to be experiencing multiple evolutions occurring simultaneously.

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