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H.L. Mencken (1880–1956). The American Language. 1921.

Page 266

upon it to that end. But even so, the departures from standard usage that were unearthed were numerous and striking, and their tendency to accumulate in definite groups showed plainly the working of general laws. 18
  Thus, no less than 57 per cent of the oral errors reported by the teachers of grades III and VII involved the use of the verb, and nearly half of these, or 24 per cent of the total, involved a confusion of the past tense form and the perfect participle. Again, double negatives constituted 11 per cent of the errors, and the misuse of adjectives or of adjectival forms for adverbs ran to 4 per cent. Finally, the difficulties of the objective case among the pronouns, the last stronghold of that case in English, were responsible for 7 per cent, thus demonstrating a clear tendency to get rid of it altogether. Now compare the errors of these children, half of whom, as I have just said, were in grade III, and hence wholly uninstructed in formal grammar, with the errors made by children of the second oral group—that is, children of grades VI and VII, in both of which grammar is studied. Dr. Charters’ tabulations show scarcely any difference in the character and relative rank of the errors discovered. Those in the use of the verb drop from 57 per cent of the total to 52 per cent, but the double negatives remain at 7 per cent and the errors in the cases of pronouns at 11 per cent.
  In the written work of grades VI and VII, however, certain changes appear, no doubt because of the special pedagogical effort against the more salient oral errors. The child, pen in hand, has in mind the cautions oftenest heard, and so reveals something of that greater exactness which all of us show when we do any writing that must bear critical inspection. Thus, the relative frequency of confusion between the past tense forms of verbs and the perfect participles drops from 24 per cent to 5 per cent, and errors based on double negatives drop to 1 per cent. But this improvement in one direction merely serves to unearth new barbarisms in other directions, concealed in the oral tables by the flood of errors now remedied. It is among the verbs that they are still most numerous;