Sunday, 3 October 2010

ET hits home

Just like to congratulate Emma Thompson on her accurate and admirably measured comments on the language kids use, and its affect on peoples' perception of them. Anybody who knows me knows that the mangling of our language is a bugbear of mine - I fully recognise my girlfriend's standard response that language evolves and changes, but evolution is a slow and measurable process in which the strongest elements in that process are supposed to be those which get to multiply and flourish. It's not supposed to be crow-barred into place in under a generation by an agent such as the media or social networking sites which create and reinforce the changes among a certain group, and then mangle the form out of shape and launch it on an unsuspecting and ignorant world.

Again, I recognise that kids create a vernacular expressly to exclude those from outside their peer group from understanding them. We've all, willingly or unwillingly and knowingly or unknowingly, used and encouraged shibboleths in our lives to reinforce our own membership of a particular group or subscription to a way of thinking. But most of us are capable of distinguishing between those linguistic forms and the more standardised, formal English which remains essential for, for example, job interviews or employment itself and which remains a resource capable of great beauty, flexibility, force and clarity of expression.

These kids' vernaculars, whether text speak, phonetic spelling or the bastard verb children of what should be nouns and vice-versa, cannot be allowed to become the dominant and accepted form of English because, as Emma Thompson pointed out so accurately, they make intelligent people look stupid and inarticulate. They are, for me, incapable of the virtues I've listed above, and that's one of the reasons I've got a problem with them. There are plenty of others but I simply don't have the space here to get into all of them without getting ranty and extremely boring. (Too late! I hear you cry).

So I'll try to make this the first and last expression of frustration on this subject within these pages, given that all of you who know me have already heard this a thousand times. I fully expect at least one response to this post containing references to medalling, s'k'edules, tuxedos and the like, damn you in advance.


  1. I really like your currant post;)

    Does that still annoy you?

  2. Not disagreeing with you m8 (sorry, mate), but any new development to a language is always initially considered vulgar and without merit (imagine if Latin had never evolved into Vulgar Latin and then into Spanish, French, Italian etc).

    The progressive passive in English is relatively new, for example. Back in the 1800s, you couldn't say "My house is being painted". It was the worse type of gutter-mouth imaginable, like coming from a Victorian-era Vicky Pollard. Instead the only possible way was to say "my house is painting". Which sounds rather unique, doesn't it?

    Sorry, couldn't resist.