// you’re reading...

Behind the Scenes

English as she is Spoke

Evolving English - One Language Many Voices

…This report will be of more practical interest if you are in London, or planning a trip before the end of April.

We are not often there ourselves, but when we do go try to make the most of any spare time available to visit art exhibitions, the theatre or other interesting things that are on, and even perhaps indulge in a little bit of window shopping (there’s nearly always a birthday or Christmas coming up, or we are on the look out for some new little treat for the barns…).

We went down to London last weekend a day early for a family wedding on Saturday 11th. On the Friday before son Nick and I went to ‘Evolving English’ at the British Library (very conveniently near St Pancras for those of us whose main station that is).

Pardon me for not having the pleasure of knowing your mindset before making you this offer and it is utterly confidential and genuine by virtue of its nature.

If you are at all interested in English, this is fascinating. It is so easy to assume that although the English language has continually been influenced over time (if nothing else think of the time after the Norman Conquest when for several centuries anybody posh or official spoke French) that the English we speak and have been taught now – and some of us have even taught – is how English should remain forever more.

But of course that is simply not true. Even a short spell at the British Library shows one that the language is alive, permanently developing and changing fast. From audio headphones dangling everywhere one can listen to examples of English spoken by people from earlier times, different walks of life and other countries; rap music, slang, texting, official business jargon, the accents and idioms of the millions who visit our country… These are all ‘English’ and all influence our language whether we like it or not.

I can’t resist adding a quote (see the bit in bold on the right) taken from some kind bank manager from Ghana who was  writing ‘to solicit my assistance in a funds transfer deal’ involving US$3.5M profits made by his bank during the last two years).

If the majority started writing like this so-called bank manager or pronouncing a word ‘incorrectly’ or writing ‘you are’ as UR does that make it correct?  Who is to decide which of these changes is good or simply not acceptable?

You can record your own voice, which will be used as part of their research into the various influences which affect the language and what the majority are now doing. You can even  record your voice online although Nick and I did ours while we were there.

Discussion

2 comments for “English as she is Spoke”

  1. I concur with all the above. In other business – sorry about the snow shovel, will try and remember to pop it in the car next week.

    Posted by Nick Sessions | December 19, 2010, 1:28 pm
    • Thanks, Nick. Don’t worry too much about the shovel – we’ve bought another so are no longer desperate! Having said that, you’ll need it in the car when you come up – hope the snow will be OK by the time you come up on Friday.

      Posted by Marion F-S | December 19, 2010, 1:38 pm

Post a comment