Allow me space to share my reservations with the readers and stakeholders regarding Zimsec’s removal of appropriate register from the O’Level English Language Paper: Code 4005/2, formerly 1122/2.
Patrick Katsaura (linguist)Prince Edward School,Harare
Language supporting skills, which largely test competence in the application of parts of speech replaced Appropriate Register, namely: nouns, pronouns, verbs, adverbs, adjectives, prepositions, conjunctions and interjections. Hence, my concern is that parts of speech usage, which emphasise on competence in orthography or the system of writing do not take much account of sociolingustics and a host of other cultural and psychological concerns. Language concerns go beyond the subject, verb and object paradigm. A consideration of the youth of today in the social milieu has witnessed people countrywide publicly bemoaning increased moral decadence. As I see it, this mind-boggling challenge can be largely mitigated by a repaired curriculum, which overlaps into the aftermath of school life.
The cocktail of perverted behaviour that characterises the escalating immoral conduct mainly borders on unbridled register or inappropriate diction. This scenario includes wild parties, licentious lyrics like the trending songs that extirpate private space and parade obscenity. Skimpy dressing, dirty postures, violence, hate speech, deception, indecent exposure, trickery, loose utterances, among many other vices that have gripped the youth, are commonplace in the social discourse. It is the scope of register or appropriate diction to analyse and criticise reasons, and causes, and effects of utterances, postures, mannerisms, attitudes and behaviour through empathy and simulation of reality as a corrective measure.
At this juncture where some youths are running crazy, such didactic tools as register if restored, would play a critical role in stemming the frenzy that is creating a yawning language and social gap. Qualitative grooming in communicative competence is a duty that the school cannot be allowed to relegate to oblivion if language is to be privileged to continue to assume its central role in moulding a healthy society.