Time Essay: The State of the Language, 1978

In the right hands, English is a precision instrument. And, like all such devices, it is alternately blunted and sharpened by its users. In 1978, many nicks and abrasions came from Washington. Ernest Boyer, U.S. Commissioner of Education, admitted that he had been faking it: he actually pretended to understand memos. The confession was prompted by logorrhea in his own department: "This office's activities during the year were primarily continuing their primary functions of education of the people to acquaint them of their needs, problems and alternate problem solutions, in order that they can make wise decisions in planning and implementing...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!