Treating vocab survey with the contempt it deserves

Welcome to 2015 – and a happy new year to all readers.

Saturday, 10th January 2015, 10:32 am

Mr Pendle ended last year with a question and starts off the New Year with another one.

Do you think your vocabulary is better or worse than someone who does not read a newspaper?

For, if the University of London’s Institute of Education is to be believed, it is worse.

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A recent survey of 9,400 people carried out by the institute apparently showed that while readers of broadsheet newspapers made more progress in vocabulary than people who did not read newspapers, the reverse was the case in readers of the tabloid press.

On reading this, Mr Pendle immediately thought - what exactly does the institute mean by a tabloid newspaper?

Does it mean a publication such as your Nelson Leader, for example?

Does it mean one of the red tops such as the Sun and the Star?

Does it mean papers such as the Daily Express or Daily Mail or the Daily Mirror?

Or does it mean a higher quality tabloid such as the Times or the i?

The tabloid range is far too great to make any survey of this kind worth taking any notice of - and therefore Mr Pendle will, as so often when reading the results of research by so-called experts, consider that these findings are not worth the paper they are written on and treat them with the contempt they deserve.