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Społeczeństwa Angielskiego for the Defence of Greengrocer's Apostrophe's from Sad Pants Pedants

Wednesday, June 9th, 2010

I’ve been thinking of founding the Społeczeństwa Angielskiego for the Defence of Greengrocer’s Apostrophe’s from Sad Pants Pedants. Here is an explanation why…

News of the self appointment of a Queen’s English Society at once annoyed and amused me. I’m sure the founders are eminently qualified to talk about our language or at least think they are. Their stated aim (at least as far as the media reports go) that it needs protecting does bother me. Maybe they should go back in time and protect it from other bad influences – all the nautical phrases, bits of French and every other impurity that has crept in over hundreds of years.

Speaking of the French, who I quite like really, we can no longer enjoy a little frisson of delight that we didn’t feel the need for someone to protect our language. All because someone thought they had a good idea while the rest of us were trying not to laugh.

They object to text speak. Text speak isn’t what we utter it’s like a telegraph code. Those were popular in the last 19th Century to save money and stop other people reading your telegrams; a way of shortening communication in some situations. There was even a spate of, now long forgotten, novels written in it that were best sellers at the time. Some of it may slip into general usage. That is how our shared language has grown over hundreds of years. The rest will be a fleeting visitor to our language that will vanish like other fashions as quickly as it came.

The very fact that they are the Queen’s society in this day and age bothers me too. First they’re giving themselves a bit of royal status without having to go through the hoops that professional bodies do. Second, I’m no republican, but really is it the Queen’s English? It’s a naff phrase (sorry to them for using naff which I’m sure if they went back to naff’s suggested Polari origin would upset them) that assigns ownership of the language to someone who doesn’t own it. Third most people don’t speak the dialect of English known as Queen’s English – we have a broad church of versions. As a Glasweigan Scottish Regimental Sergeant Major told me on a long train journey everyone speaks English wrong except his mates from Glasgow. He also insisted that drinking wine with food rather than ale was a bad case of aping the French, who he also liked but felt no pressing need to steal ideas from.

This isn’t about education. I want children to be taught how to write and spell properly. I don’t want someone cleaning up our language in the guise of protecting it. That’s why I’m dissolving the Społeczeństwa Angielskiego for the Defence of Greengrocers Apostrophe’s from Sad Pants Pedants before I found it. My only plea is to allow the self appointed guardians to carry on in their own way with no official status and no official funding. Should they get a penny of public money in these times when we are being told that public funds must be squeezed then I really would think it was time for a large collective SAD GASPP.

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