The Use of Punctuation and Mechanics by Forms Four and Five Students of Some Selected schools in the Buea Municipality
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The aim of this investigation was to examine and ascertain the use of punctuation and mechanics by forms four and five students of the above-selected schools in the Buea Municipality. Data was collected through a test and questionnaire, administered to some 90 forms four and five students of St Theresa International Bilingual Secondary school, Salvation Bilingual High school, and Government Bilingual High School Muea.
They showed difficulties pertaining to the use of punctuation and mechanics, which stem from the poor mastery of punctuation marks. It was analyzed using frequency table sand bar charts of which every punctuation mark was analyzed.
It was found out that students neglect punctuation coupled with the tolerant attitude of the non-language teachers.
It was therefore recommended that punctuation and mechanics be included in the English language curriculum, and the teachers improve their attitude towards punctuation errors when correcting students’ scripts, even in other disciplines outside English.
Background of the Study
When we write, we use graphic symbols but writing is more than the production of graphic symbols. Writing involves encoding a message of some kind, and reading involves decoding or interpretation of this message (Bryne, 1979). This is the reason why we must be careful when writing, that is, ensure that our writing falls within the confines of writing conventions.
The English language uses some sort of punctuation marks which were not standardized until the invention of the printing press in the 15th century. At first, punctuation and mechanics were used to introduce a break-up in the way sentences were spoken.
After this invention, grammarians began to develop a theory that should be formed depending on the structure of the sentences, not sounds. The use of punctuation and mechanics can be traced as far back as the 19th century, when the Romans started using inscriptions on their monument with dots.
A Librarian, Alexandra, became the first to coin the term “comma” and “period”: though it was different from what we have today Ernest Hemingway, in his letter to Horace Liveright (May 22, 1925) says that “it should be as convenient as possible; you should be able to show that you can do a good deal of improvements”. These marks are designed to help us be able to picture and develop the various kinds of essays, articles, and reports.
One of the greatest problems writers and speakers of the English language encounter is that of punctuation and mechanics. The inappropriate use of these marks can mar your writing because most learners of English do not have a mastery of these marks, there is bound to be wrong usage, confusion as to which of the marks to be used and when.
Since the beginning of writing in 600 BC, writing has become a daily activity in the lives of students and people seeking greater goals in life through education. It is very important to master the mechanics of composition writing, as the beauty of writing can be ensured by a good command of the basic mechanics of writing.
Though students think that good punctuation, capitalization and handwriting are not necessary, they are indispensable tools for a good piece of writing. This paper will focus on some of the following marks: Full stop, comma, semicolon, colon, quotation mark, a hyphen, dash, exclamation mark, brackets, capitalization, and handwriting.
Problem Statement and Justification
The wrong use of punctuation and mechanics by writers, especially students is undeniable. Over the years, there has been an increase in the wrong use of punctuation, which results from the inappropriate use of these marks. Such inappropriateness changes the meaning of what is intended and makes it much more difficult.
Bearing in mind that human beings are liable to mistakes, teachers are employed to help students get acquainted with the use of punctuation and mechanics in writing especially in their early years of secondary schools.
The justification of this study is to aid students to identify the role played by punctuation and mechanics in writing. This is by recognizing which, when and where these marks can be used, thus, limiting the rate of inappropriate forms produced by students
Objectives of the Study
The main objective of this study is to examine the use of punctuation and mechanics by forms four and five students. The following specific objectives will be necessary in the realization of this paper.
To analyze how punctuation and mechanics guide forms four and five students’ writing.
To identify the problems forms four and five students encounter using punctuation and mechanics.
To describe the frequency of the misuse of some particular punctuation marks
To assess how punctuation and mechanics can help reduce the wrong use and meaning of words, phrases, clauses, and sentences by the forms four and five students