Tuesday, 9 September 2014

When I Was Inorate

A new word swam into my ken last night. It will probably be swimming out of it again fairly soon, as it has little to commend it. The word is 'oracy', and according to Wikipedia it has been current among educationists since the Sixties. I heard it on the Radio 4 programme Word of Mouth, where someone - presumably an educationist - was saying what a fine thing it is. It represents the 'speaking and listening' element in education - the element that used to be quite a substantial component of the GCSE English exam. Since it was dropped, GCSE English grades have fallen markedly, suggesting that, as was suspected, it was not being 'robustly marked'.
 It was different in my day, when it was actually possible to fail Spoken English (which counted for 20 percent of an English Language GCE) - I know, because I managed to do so. I'm not quite sure how I did it; it probably happened because I didn't have a clue what was going on (as was often the case, and indeed still is). I certainly took against the examiner, couldn't understand why he was asking me such fatuous questions, and firmly dead-batted all his attempts to get the conversational ball rolling. That was probably what did for me - a fundamental lack of oracy. I was, indeed, inorate.


  1. Surely illorate, no? Which, if correct, would leave you open to the charge that you are illiterate about illorate.

  2. Yes I wondered about that - but I think it's got to be 'in' - no L involved...

  3. Hmm, good point. But why not "un"? I'm getting very confused, Nige. I wish we could meet in person so I could explain myself oracially.