English and 'the radiator test'
by Samuel Jones
In relation to national identity, the author makes the point that authors like Chinua Achebe in Africa and Jamaican authors have been able to use the English language to tell African and Jamaican stories to wider audiences, giving them a glimpse of African heritage and life.
The author also uses what he calls a 'radiator test' to illustrate that being able to use English in the workign cotext doesn't necessarily combine with wider skills in English:
'...next time you go to the mechanic, conduct what I call 'the radiator test'. Carry pen and paper and, after your car is serviced, ask a young mechanic if he would write out a sentence for you. Present the mechanic with a short sentence such as 'The radiator needs to be fixed.' Ask him to write this out as neatly as possible. Some may do it well. But here are some of the most likely errors. The sentence is begun with a common 't'. The full stop is omitted. The 's' is left off 'needs' and the 'ed' is left off 'fixed'. The 'be' may be left out entirely - and why not? - it is indeed somewhat redundant. There are major problems in spelling 'radiator' correctly'.