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April 1, 1974

Television Language: Foster of Illiteracy

JAMA. 1974;228(1):77. doi:10.1001/jama.1974.03230260051030

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Although pen once splashed ink against the grammatical perfidies of television commercials as they influence the youth of the United States (JAMA 217:69, 1971), the shows themselves were not brought to shame or blame. Consider "All in the Family," viewing of which is said to have high ratings. There, grammatical argot is rife, as it probably should be, if to be realistic, in the language of typical New York blue-collar parents, Archie Bunker and his persevering wife, who forgot or never learned language at its best in high school.

Yet, protection of our youthful ones, those who will speak and write now and in the future, merits attention. Let their parents play a game with the youngsters, taxing them to identify the grammatical aberrations and malapropisms of Archie Bunker and, so doing, learn language, spoken or written, as it should be spoken or written, lest they be victims of wrongly