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Misty Adoniou

2-1-2017

Associate professor, University of Canberra
5 misty.adoniou@canberra.edu.au
Misty,
I came across your article "Things you were taught at school that are wrong" and with
my self-professed crummy English was looking forwards to learn something from it. Just that
10 you seem to assume that whomever read your article knows what verbs, noun's, adjectives, etc,
are and it seems you totally overlooked to give examples in a manner that people could see what
you actually were meaning.
For example; you could say 'It is very sunny day' or 'It is a sunny day'. The word "very" is a word
15 to say more about the word ‘sunny’.
Anyone who doesn't know what an adverb or whatever is then understand what you are referring
to and better understand what you are stating.
20 The worst thing a person can do is to write in a manner he/she understand what is written but
fails to write it for the very people it is targeted for to understand it..
In fact this is the very problem writings of legislative provisions have that they then tell you
that you need a lawyer to explain it, where the lawyers themselves often get it wrong and their
25 clients loses a case having relied upon the legal advice that is given to them.
In fact not uncommon if not generally judicial officers are in dispute to the meaning of legislative
provisions and so an appeal can be dismissed or upheld pending the majority of the judges for
and against a certain view.
30

35

40

Hansard 19-4-1897 Constitution Convention Debates
QUOTE
Mr. CARRUTHERS:
This is a Constitution which the unlettered people of the community ought to be able to understand.
END QUOTE
.
Hansard 21-9-1897 Constitution Convention Debates (Official Record of the Debates of the National
Australasian Convention)
QUOTE
The Right Hon. C.C. KINGSTON (South Australia)[9.21]: I trust the Drafting Committee will not fail to
exercise a liberal discretion in striking out words which they do not understand, and that they will put
in words which can be understood by persons commonly acquainted with the English language.
END QUOTE
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5

Hansard 8-3-1898 Constitution Convention Debates (Official Record of the Debates of the National Australasian
Convention)
QUOTE Mr. ISAACS.We want a people's Constitution, not a lawyers' Constitution.
END QUOTE

t
Then are by-laws (as any legislation within the framework of the constitution technically, in my
view, is a by-law, not then expressed in plain language that can be understood by the unlettered
10 persons?
I recall a court case (some decades ago) where opponent lawyers argued that my written
documentation was in violation of the rules of the Court as they failed to have 6 mm between the
lines and so should be struck out. In the end the judge found I was right and I succeeded in the
15 case but it is a tactic lawyers like to use to seek to prevent a defeat. Still the issue is that lawyers
continue to space 6mm between the lines, well so they claim, but are really ripping of their
client’s big time.
Let me explain.
20
the lawyers argument was that the 6 mm between the lines were to be measured between the
lowest point of the line and the highest point of the line directly underneath of it.
My submission was that 6 mm between the lines as to be from baseline to baseline upon which
25 the words were written as like a 6 mm lined paper disregarding the type of letters being used.
Again I succeeded but lawyers continue to use their incorrect interpretation.
.
When you have to consider this in real terms let use examples, albeit kept the sentences short as
the intent is all that is needed to be shown. (As I indicated you seemed to fail to do so clearly.)
30
Example 1:
Mary is today going to the
market.
35 .
Example 2:
Manfred is at the
market
40 Example 3
The market is full of
cars
.

It is clear that if one were to measure the lines in example 3 it would come to 6 mm between the
45 lines of the words but if you were to refer to example 1and 2 then the distances would be
floating. Computes and type writers ordinary apply a constant distance and do not float their
spaces pending the structure of words.
My wife a linguistic constantly criticises me for using the wrong grammar and also incorrect
50 pronunciation but to me it is correct, regardless if it may not be according to the English claimed
pronunciations and grammar spelling.
.
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After all if lawyers up to today still continue to use double spacing purportedly to have 6 mm
between the lines then who are they to know better? If you ever were involved in reading any
legal documentation did you ever raise the issue that it was not written 6 mm between the lines? I
doubt you ever concerned yourself with this as it simply never may have come to your attention.
5 .

I recall and event where a judicial officer made clear to me I was in CONTEMPT OF COURT
(when I was representing Mr Francis Colosimo) in regard of appeal to overturn administration
orders. 2 medical experts had certified for Mr Colosimo to be placed under administration, and
so he had been while then represented by a barrister who also was university lecturer in legal
10 matters.
The judiciary officer then commenced to read out the relevant legislation as to why she held I
was in CONTEMPT OF COURT.

UPON HER INVITING ME TO WHAT I HAD TO SAY I COMMENCED TO READ OUT THE PRECISE

15 SAME PART OF THE LEGISLATION BUT WITH ACCENTUATING CVERTAIN PARTS OF IT. UPON
THIS MAKING CLEAR THAT THERE WAS NO CONTEMPT OF COURT AS I REPRESENTED MR
COLOSIMO AND WAS ENTITLED TO SPEAK OUT ON HIS BEHALFTO WHAT I HELD I WAS
REQUIRED TO AS HIS PROFESSION ADVOCATE. THE JUDICIAKL OFFICER THAN MADE KNOWN
NOT TO PROCEED WITH THE CONTEMPT OF COURT ISSUE AGAINST ME.

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Worst was yet to come because as I exposed the 2 expert medical witnesses had their reports
based upon what they had been advised by the Office of the Public Advocate, where in fact I had
transcript of a judge (Her Honour Harbison J) when I confronted Her Honour about Mr Colosimo
having been convicted Her Honour category denied she had done so, even so the expert medical
25 witnesses based their reports upon that he (Mr Colosimo) refused to accept that he was
convicted and so needed to be placed under administration.
.
Again, in the end I succeed in the appeal.
.
30 What therefore became clear is that despite my self-professed Crummy-English (and proud upon
it never having had any former education in the English language and neither it being my native
language) that nevertheless I can succeed upon the meaning and usage of English language
against those who are supposed to be highly educated in using it.
35 In 1985 a judge commented to me that I had used an s which inferred it was plural while the
sentence referred to singular. My response was; I know now that you read it.
Never again did judges attack me for my spelling/grammar errors because I would rather
challenge them on legal issues!
40 Obviously, I recognise that it would be best if all people uses a format that makes sense to all in
using the English language but then wouldn’t it be better to modernise the English language?
.
My wife pointed out I make an utter mess of the words ‘of’ and ‘off’. Well just drop the second
‘f’ and it makes no different in pronunciation and so neither should be then in it usage.
45
The same with other double usage of say ’l’ in ‘small’. Why not ‘smal’ and the meaning really is
constant. While the word ‘off’ versus ‘of’ can have a difference in falling ‘off’ the table or being
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of a country in the end stop the DOUBLE DUTCH talk (I am Dutch born) and just simplify the
English lessons.

The same with the usage of ‘African American’ and ‘Asian Australian’ while you may claim
5 they are say adjective (is that is the right word for it) telling something about the persons
race/heritage why not use American-Afric an and Australian-Asian, so you know who you are
dealing with. The term ‘African-American’ now is more to identify the person different from
other Americans.
I never referred to myself as ‘Dutch-Australian’ but as ‘Australian’ as there is too much division
10 by using an additive that is intended to not just highlight a word such as
very cold’, very sunny’, ’lot of rain’, ‘pouring rain’, but is rather intended to set apart people
based on race to divide them rather than to embrace all alike regardless of race/heritage.
If you have by now some major headache because of reading my version of self-professed
15 Crummy-English I will at least have had that you made it worthwhile to read my writings,
regardless that you may not agree with some or all of the content.
And you may use this writings if you desire for whatever publication provided you do not distort
my version of self-professed Crummy-English into what you may deem more appropriate format
20 of English, and identify me as the author of my Crummy-English statement. 
For completion of my statement to you I will below quote your article.

25 http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-01-02/things-you-were-taught-at-school-that-arewrong/8157294

Things you were taught at school that are wrong
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35

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OPINION
The Conversation
By Misty Adoniou, University of Canberra
Updated 34 minutes agoMon 2 Jan 2017, 12:12pm
Photo: Grammar is how we organise our sentences in order to communicate meaning to others. (612 ABC Brisbane: Jessica
Hinchliffe)
Related Story: Understanding the rules of apostrophes
Related Story: No buts about it: You shouldn't use word 'however' you want
Related Story: Linguists discover humans have 'universal language'
Map: Australia
Do you remember being taught you should never start your sentences with "And" or "But"?
What if I told you that your teachers were wrong and there are lots of other so-called grammar rules that we've probably been
getting wrong in our English classrooms for years?

How did grammar rules come about?
To understand why we've been getting it wrong, we need to know a little about the history of grammar teaching.
Grammar is how we organise our sentences in order to communicate meaning to others.

45

Those who say there is one correct way to organise a sentence are called prescriptivists. Prescriptivist grammarians prescribe how
sentences must be structured.
Prescriptivists had their day in the sun in the 18th century. As books became more accessible to the everyday person,
prescriptivists wrote the first grammar books to tell everyone how they must write.

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These self-appointed guardians of the language just made up grammar rules for English, and put them in books that they sold.
It was a way of ensuring that literacy stayed out of reach of the working classes.
They took their newly concocted rules from Latin. This was, presumably, to keep literate English out of reach of anyone who
wasn't rich or posh enough to attend a grammar school, which was a school where you were taught Latin.

5

And yes, that is the origin of today's grammar schools.
The other camp of grammarians are the descriptivists. They write grammar guides that describe how English is used by different
people, and for different purposes.
They recognise that language isn't static, and it isn't one-size-fits-all.

1. You can't start a sentence with a conjunction
10

Let's start with the grammatical sin I have already committed in this article. You can't start a sentence with a conjunction.
Obviously you can, because I did. And I expect I will do it again before the end of this article. There, I knew I would!
Those who say it is always incorrect to start a sentence with a conjunction, like "and" or "but", sit in the prescriptivist camp.
However, according to the descriptivists, at this point in our linguistic history, it is fine to start a sentence with a conjunction in an
op-ed article like this, or in a novel or a poem.

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It is less acceptable to start a sentence with a conjunction in an academic journal article, or in an essay for my son's high school
economics teacher, as it turns out.
But times are changing.

2. You can't end a sentence with a preposition
Well, in Latin you can't. In English you can, and we do all the time.

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Admittedly a lot of the younger generation don't even know what a preposition is, so this rule is already obsolete. But let's have a
look at it anyway, for old time's sake.
According to this rule, it is wrong to say "Who did you go to the movies with?"
Instead, the prescriptivists would have me say "With whom did you go to the movies?"
I'm saving that structure for when I'm making polite chat with the Queen on my next visit to the palace.

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That's not a sarcastic comment, just a fanciful one. I'm glad I know how to structure my sentences for different audiences. It is a
powerful tool. It means I usually feel comfortable in whatever social circumstances I find myself in, and I can change my writing
style according to purpose and audience.
That is why we should teach grammar in schools. We need to give our children a full repertoire of language so that they can make
grammatical choices that will allow them to speak and write for a wide range of audiences.

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3. Put a comma when you need to take a breath
It's a novel idea, synchronising your writing with your breathing, but the two have nothing to do with one another and if this is the
instruction we give our children, it is little wonder commas are so poorly used.
Punctuation is a minefield and I don't want to risk blowing up the internet. So here is a basic description of what commas do, and
read this for a more comprehensive guide.

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Commas provide demarcation between like grammatical structures. When adjectives, nouns, phrases or clauses are butting up
against each other in a sentence, we separate them with a comma. That's why I put commas between the three nouns and the two
clauses in that last sentence.

5

Commas also provide demarcation for words, phrases or clauses that are embedded in a sentence for effect. The sentence would
still be a sentence even if we took those words away. See, for example, the use of commas in this sentence.

4. To make your writing more descriptive, use more adjectives
American writer Mark Twain had it right.
"When you catch an adjective, kill it. No, I don't mean utterly, but kill most of them — then the rest will be valuable."
If you want your writing to be more descriptive, play with your sentence structure.

10

Consider this sentence from Liz Lofthouse's beautiful children's book Ziba came on a boat. It comes at a key turning point in the
book, the story of a refugee's escape.
"Clutching her mother's hand, Ziba ran on and on, through the night, far away from the madness until there was only darkness
and quiet."
A beautifully descriptive sentence, and not an adjective in sight.

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5. Adverbs are the words that end in 'ly'
Lots of adverbs end in "ly", but lots don't.
Adverbs give more information about verbs. They tell us when, where, how and why the verb happened. So that means words
like "tomorrow", "there" and "deep" can be adverbs.

20

I say they can be adverbs because, actually, a word is just a word. It becomes an adverb, or a noun, or an adjective, or a verb
when it is doing that job in a sentence.
Deep into the night, and the word deep is an adverb. Down a deep, dark hole and it is an adjective. When I dive into the deep, it is
doing the work of a noun.
Time to take those word lists of adjectives, verbs and nouns off the classroom walls.
Time, also, to ditch those old Englishmen who wrote a grammar for their times, not ours.

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If you want to understand what our language can do and how to use it well, read widely, think deeply and listen carefully. And
remember, neither time nor language stands still — for any of us.
Misty Adoniou is an Associate Professor in language, literacy and TESL at the University of Canberra.
Originally published in The Conversation.

From other news sites:

30

The Conversation: Things you were taught at school that are wrong

Washington Post: Proposal would require Virginia schools to notify parents of 'sexually explicit' literature
Find out more about these links

1. Misty Adoniou
Associate Professor in Language, Literacy and TESL, University of Canberra

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Disclosure statement
Misty Adoniou works for the University of Canberra. She has received funding from government
agencies to investigate curriculum, teacher standards and spelling. She is on the Board of
Directors of TESOL International.
5
Academic rigour, journalistic flair
Misty Adoniou
10
44

Articles
56

Comments
15 Associate Professor in Language, Literacy and TESL, University of Canberra
ProfileArticlesActivity
Misty Adoniou was a primary school teacher for 10 years before moving to Greece and teaching
and consulting in the area of English Language Teaching for 7 years. She now lectures at the
University of Canberra. She has received numerous Teaching Awards including the Vice20 Chancellor's Award for Teaching Excellence, and was the Lead Writer of the Federal
Government's Teachers' Resource for English Additional Language/Dialect (EAL/D) learners.
She sits on a number of national and international advisory boards, including:
Board of Directors, TESOL International
TEQSA expert in Teacher Education: Primary and Secondary, Curriculum Studies, Literacy and
25 Numeracy;
Member of the English Language Proficiency Working Group – a national advisory board to the
Australian Curriculum and Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA);
Member of the Equity and Diversity Advisory Group – a national advisory board on Gifted and
Talented, Disability and English as an Additional Language;
30 Member of the Onshore Consultative Committee – a national advisory board providing advice on
the needs of onshore asylum seekers to the Department of Immigration and Citizenship.

Experience

–present
Associate professor, University of Canberra

35

Education

2013
University of Canberra, PhD

2010
University of Canberra, MEd (Hons)

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1987
University of Canberra, BEd

Publications

2016
Don’t let me forget the teacher I wanted to become, Teacher Development

5

2016
Spelling it out: how words work and how to teach them, Cambridge University Press

2016
Beginning teachers' responses to education reform agendas, School Leadership and
Management

10

2015
It’s very much taken as an insult if I say anything’ - do new educators have a right to
speak their mind? , Cambridge Journal of Education

15

2015
EAL learners, multimodality, multilingualism and writing. , Looking back to look
forward: Teaching writing in today's classrooms.

2014
‘Teacher knowledge: a complex tapestry’ , Asia-Pacific Journal of Teacher Education

20

2014
Teachers' awareness and use of scales to map the progress of children who speak English
as an additional language or dialect, TESOL in Context

2014
Language, Mathematics and English Language learners, Australian Mathematics Teacher

2014
Drawing conclusions: What purpose do children’s drawings serve?, Australian Art
Education

25

2013
'Autonomy in teaching: going, going, gone' , English in Australia

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INSPECTOR-RIKATI® about the BLACK HOLE in the CONSTITUTION-DVD
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2013
"Preparing Teachers – The Importance of Connecting Contexts in Teacher Education" ,
Australian Journal of Teacher Education

5

2013
'Spelling knowledge all teachers should have', Literacy

2013
"Drawing to support writing development in English language learners" , Language and
Education

Grants and Contracts
10

2016
An Evaluation of the Human Settlement Services Orientation for newly arrived refugees
Role:
Chief Investigator
Funding Source:
Department of Social Services, Australian Government

15

2015
An Evaluation of the Australian Culture Orientation (AUSCO) Programme
Role:
Chief Investigator
Funding Source:
International Organisation for Migration

20

2015
The Potentials of K-12 Literacy Development in the International Baccalaureate PYP and
MYP Programmes

25

Role:
Chief investigator
Funding Source:
International Baccalaureate

30

2014
Moving from ‘Graduate’ to ‘Proficient’ – Phase 2 a quantitative study
Role:
Co-investigator

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INSPECTOR-RIKATI® about the BLACK HOLE in the CONSTITUTION-DVD
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Funding Source:
ACT Teacher Quality Institute

2013
Supporting school-university pathways for refugee student access and participation in
tertiary education

5

Role:
Co-investigator
Funding Source:
Office of Teaching and Learning
10

2013
Moving from 'Graduate' to 'Proficient' - an exploration of the process and impact of the
National Professional Standards for Teachers for newly qualified teachers.
Role:
Chief Investigator
Funding Source:
ACT Education and Training Directorate

15

2012
The Refugee Action Support Project in two ACT schools - research and evaluation
Role:
Chief Investigator
Funding Source:
ACT Education and Training Directorate

20

Professional Memberships
25


Board of Directors TESOL International
Inaugural Life Member ACT TESOL Association

Awaiting your response,

G. H. Schorel-Hlavka O.W.B. (Friends call me Gerrit)

MAY JUSTICE ALWAYS PREVAIL
30

®

(Our name is our motto!)

35

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