It’s Just Wrong!

27 04 2008

Mr President is a language snob. He makes no secret of this. In fact it’s something he’s immensely proud of. Those of you who’ve read Textual Relations for some time now will have seen this sort of thing before. Should he follow through with his goal of emigrating to the US he will no doubt be immensely popular. They’re sure to love when he corrects their English.

For him it’s a matter of national honour. Yes, honour, with a “u”. That’s the correct spelling, any other spelling is wrong. Don’t forget, we Brits invented the language, we gave it to the world, so kindly use it properly! Some of the differences between proper English and the bastardised version that the Americans use are quite interesting though.

Sidewalk is a simplified version of pavement because Americans might need it spelt out for them; it’s the thing on the side of the road that you walk on. Calling it a pavement might confuse them; where is this paved thing? What do they do with it? Yet they call a lift an “elevator”, which far from being a simplification is actually pretentiously verbose.

The irony there is that the Americans seem to think we’re the pretentious ones yet they use words like “elevator” for a simple lift. One could understand “lifter”, since lift refers to the action the lift does, and their feeble minds might struggle to wrap their heads around a verb being used as a noun. Yet “elevator” just seems like they’re showing off.

A large proportion of his readership is American so he’s probably offended a lot of them but quite frankly he couldn’t care less. He’s right, which is all that matters, and he knows at least one American who uses the mother tongue the right way. How, you may ask, did he even begin down this road? What inspired him to rant about linguistics?

It was this. To do that is a complete joke, and it differs greatly from other offerings. The latter was clearly a parody, it was funny and actually very well researched. Not only is this current book not funny, poorly researched (the slang is totally out-dated and over-used, nobody speaks like that) but its author has been on record as saying he thinks it’s a way to make the Bard’s work more accessible to today’s kids. Dear lord.

Granted Shakespearean English is no longer the language we use, and can be quite difficult to master, but these kids can’t even use proper English as it is! We’re allowing them to use textspeak in exams and now we’re teaching them that if they’re having difficulty learning something, rather than making them work harder to master it, we’re going to make it easier. What next, we going to reinvent maths so they don’t fail that?

Not only that but it’s immensely patronising to kids who do realise they have to work hard, and those who are intelligent enough to learn things. We’re suggesting that they’re too thick to understand the original text. Worse yet, we’re depriving them of the joy of the sheer beauty that is Shakespeare in its natural state. It’s hard work to grasp at first, but once you do it’s so worthwhile. Why would we not let them enjoy it in all its glory?

And so ends today’s sermon on the virtues of good English. Tomorrow, cleanliness.


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