The extract below appeared in The Telegraph today. The Telegraph is a daily British newspaper of supposedly high reputation. The inability of its writers and editors to write English, demonstrated below, will cast doubt on that reputation.
The author of the above article is Dr David G Green, who is described as “director of the think tank Civitas”. I have always held think tanks in the lowest regard, and the outrageous and woolly thinking displayed in this article would seem to give weight to my feelings.
“The inability to speak a host country’s language reinforces dangerous divisions in society – and it is a very reasonable requirement of any immigrant.”
In this sentence the pronoun “it” refers back to “The inability to speak a host country’s language”. The writer is therefore saying that “the inability to speak a host country’s language is a very reasonable requirement of any immigrant.” What he means to say (however absurdly) is that ”the ability to speak a host country’s language is a very reasonable requirement of any immigrant.”
This would be comic if this display of bad writing were not at the start of so arrogant and racist an article preaching the necessity for immigrants to Britain to speak English.
Learners of English may take heart from the fact that some quarters of the British and American press, radio and television are full of examples of poor English. This is particularly true of the BBC and CNN, but it appears that the shortcoming is spreading to media of hitherto higher repute.