No! This is NOT a rant from an Irish man against the English. Nor indeed against anyone bearing that surname. It’s not even by me.
It’s a guest post from eminent Blackwatertown reader Nigel Morgan, who’s English himself.
It’s his heartfelt cry to the heavens about the corruption of the English language. But is he right?
A DIATRIBE ON THE DIRE AND DREADFUL!
“How are you?” I innocently asked my acquaintance recently. I know, I know, this most innocent of questions can leave you open to a life history of ills real or imaginary, but to receive the reply of “Good” seems not only boastful but also inaccurate. Surely the response must be well or unwell; “good” is an adjective, and is thus irrelevant to the enquiry.
In the same conversation I was astonished to be told that “I literally died of shock”- an assertion that is as self-evidently untrue as “We don’t need no education”- unless the double negative concedes that “we” do need just this.
Warming to my theme, how about the extraordinary “window of opportunity” or plain “window” when the speaker simply means an opportunity- what has fenestration to do with opportunity?
Ah, but “at the end of the day” does it matter? Probably not, if it really does mean in the evening with a glass of red wine already inside one- but it certainly does if all the speaker means is “ultimately”. It is as extraordinary as “at this point in time”, which is a prolix, clumsy, and absurd way of saying “now” or “currently”.
When in 1962 the Vernons Girls sang “Boys are Natural Twisters” they added the phrase (and song title) “You know what I mean?”- I think there was a question mark at the end. However- this is now used frequently as a coda to sentences where one clearly cannot possibly know what the speaker means as its message was opaque or even unintelligible.
“I mean” there are plenty more- so let’s have them, “Bring them on”! Meanwhile, I shall take my car out of the “garidge” – how in heaven’s name did “garage” end up thus? I’m driven to drink.
Here are the Vernon Girls singing. They’re funny. Go on. Give it a go.
And if you want proof that the girls really did like the Beatles, here’s the evidence.
But getting back to what Nigel says. Is he right? Or is it time he dismounted from his high horse and acknowledged that it’s well past time that the term the English language was superceded by American? (Though of course we all know where the best English is spoken and written. Here’s a clue. It’s somewhere in between.)
Do you mourn the passing of old standards? Or welcome the evolution of the language as common usage creeps into even such august institution as (gasp) the BBC. Is English what people should say? Or what they do say?