English as she is spoke


Let’s talk proper…

If you speak with a cockney accent people will think you are an ignoramus but if you speak with a Scottish accent, providing it’s not broad Glaswegian, they will think you are intelligent.

That’s what my English teacher said to my grammar-school class nearly 70 years ago. It was a good school, in Plymouth, and he was decrying the local accent, which most agree is pretty awful, with its flat ‘a’s, prolonged ‘ers’ and ‘h’s which litter the floor. Today that teacher would be, at least, reprimanded for political incorrectness. I took note of what he said; listened to the BBC wireless, no tellie in those days, and without much effort became a speaker of RP, Received Pronounciation.  I was lucky, I managed to get to University and read medicine. I am now in my dotage and spend some time enjoying the tellie; but with increasing irritation at the slack use of our Mother Tongue, grammatical errors and the inability of many to speak without waving  their arms and hands.

For instance, this morning a TV journalist decried the ‘amount’ of selfies being posted and yesterday another journalist spoke of the ‘quantity’ of immigrants. They don’t know the difference between countable and uncountable nouns. It’s not difficult; it’s the ‘number’ of selfies and the ‘number’ of immigrants. And another thing, why raise both hands and flex their first and second fingers as if making aerial italics? Why not use words for emphasis? That’s not difficult either.

While I’m enjoying a rant – is it really necessary for the ‘F’ word to be used so frequently in drama? I suppose it is regarded as smart and emphatic, but to me it indicates an inability to use the beautiful English language without recourse to the speech habits of the ignorant. And it is a mistake to think that it adds emphasis, it doesn’t. For example, I maintain that, “He was f******g awful,” is less emphatic than, “He was awful.” Before we know it, the ugly ‘c’ word will creep in and soon be acceptable. Yet another irritant… saying ‘A’ as if presenting a list and then not proceeding to B, C, or D. Then there are people who say “you know” two or three times in every sentence, and even worse, those who finish my sentences for me.

Ranting away from language, why don’t people in the public eye wear ties anymore? I think a tie completes a man’s wardrobe. I’m thinking of starting a BBT (Bring Back the Tie) Society. I have loads, including bow ties which I used, for obvious reasons, when I practised my speciality, gastroenterology.

A final rant, what’s all this unshaven appearance about? A well- trimmed generous beard is a joy to behold but permanently looking as though you couldn't be bothered to shave for a couple of days looks scruffy.

That’s it; do you have a rant about today’s English as she is spoke?

Latest comments

08.05 | 22:44

Mike, I am Maria, widowof Bill. I have been out of touch with your mum Plse can i have news if you get this. I had fun with your Dad and pray for him.

16.08 | 10:56

Thank you, and how are you now?

16.08 | 10:00

You were a beacon in my gloomy journey with UC! I loved coming to see you!

16.08 | 09:58

Yes I was!!! I was 7 and a half when I started seeing you for post hospital Ulcerative Colitis and stayed under your care for years till late 90s! Mom says hi!