Am I Speakin’ Good Enough For You?

Well known Sky News Political Correspondent, Beth Rigby, has had many negative comments on the way she speaks, not like they’d get away without abuse over their spelling ‘electrocution’ instead of ‘elocution’. The fellow friend of the one in question, Oliver Kamm, has joined her clique by arguing that the media should have more regional accents due to them being more inclusive, diverse and relatable?

As the media, in this technological age, is always in our faces, the debate on whether it should include private school Londoners or everyday working class accents from good old Bradford, is growing almost as fast as kids are getting IPhones. Shouldn’t it represent us? We are the ones who are payin’ for it. Why should people have to follow English Language theorist – Labov’s research and ‘converge’ their accent when it is a normal and ordinary thing that everyone has?

The time of BBC English is gone so why shouldn’t it be replaced with the wide spread of accents available in the UK. The TV personalities we have all grown to love such as Christine Bleakly and Cheryl Cole, represent people from all over Britain as all people watch TV (even if you deny it) and should feel ‘included’ and not ‘excluded’ shown in theorist – Ives Bradford and South London study. Only pedants care whether someone pronounces the ‘-ng’ the ‘correct’ way. Even the BBC’s governing body admitted that “The media is too London Centric” but why do people have such a big problem with it?

Maybe these accents are ‘unfashionable’ or ‘unattractive’ but these are part of everyday culture! Being surrounded by them is normal and these accents would not be any different if they were on TV. Beth Rigby’s Estuary English is not to be questioned as she does not choose to code switch but instead talks in the way that she always has. It is easy to understand, inviting and friendly, isn’t that what people want to hear when they wake up? Why don’t people spend more time correcting people who use the wrong ‘you’re/your’ which is an actual problem for the English Language, instead of an everyday accent?

Analyse how language is used in these three texts to present views about the nature of language change.

Text A is an online sports blog from BBC that is aimed to inform and entertain others who take an interest in language change and sport enthusiasts. The perscriptivist view is portrayed from the start with the noun “plea” which has connotations of the adjectives strong and begging. This implies that there is a strong feeling against language change as people are almost begging to preserve the word ‘medal’ as a noun, not a verb. The personification of English language and the opinion that people are “inflicting cruelty” towards it further suggests that changing it is violent and even ‘ugly’ (Mackinnon 1996). The theory of the crumbling castle by Aitchinson (2013) is supported by the idea presented that we should “maintain standards” as if we let language change towards this one word, then language will crumble.

Also Aitchinson’s theory of infectious diseases is shown through the opinion that it came from “Americanisms” as the English language take words from countries like the spreading of a disease which hurts the English language and is seen as a bad habit. However some descriptivists may say that people are seen to choose to take words from other countries as they are seen as more prestigious and would rather speak similar to them. . The perscriptivist view is shown through negative adjectives such as “rude” “ugly” and “unpleasant” when describing the verbing of ‘medal’. A sense of bathos is created throughout as it is seen to be presented as an important issue but then humour is created at the end “we’ll try to make sure the offenders don’t podium.”

Text B is an online Guardian newspaper article by David Marsh which also sets forward a persciptivist view as it portraysthe descriptivistswho accept language change as “linguistic barbarians.” The hyperbole “undermining our very way of life” shows the extreme views that people have against language change and the extremes they go to so English language is preserved.Text A and B both display a prescriptivist view due to the fact that they are very important news establishments and would like to convey their thoughts on the ‘correct’ English language. Passive voice is used as they do not exactly say who the perscriptivists are “to the outrage provoked” which creates the effect that there is a mass amount of people on the side of the Guardian, who have a well educated older audience. Sarcasm is used to create humour as they would expect their audience to know how to ‘correctly’ use language and to prove the point that they agree that language needs to be kept the way it always has been. This is similar to text A where they create humour to exclude those who do not agree which strengthens their perscriptivist view.

Text C displays a different view to Text A and B due to the fact that they would be enhanced by language change and are only commenting on this topic due to the mass amount of people who have strong feelings about it. Text C is a blog post from Oxford Dictionaries which sets up a descriptivist view as they understand that language changes and therefore want words to change so that they can sell new dictionaries. The title uses the homophones “meddling with nouns: who’s medalling now?” which add a sense of humour and gives examples of the ways that ‘medal’ can be used. Aitchinson’s theory of infectious diseases relates to their views as all “citations here are all from the US” as we have taken words from America which are harmful to the English language, however others could see taking words from America as a good thing as they have a higher status in society.Perscriptivism is shown through Mackinnon’s theory as the verbing is seen to be “awkward and abominable” and is ‘useless and ugly’. All these texts create a sense of bathos as the audiences would be well educated and want to conserve the English language.

World Englishes?

English is not the most widely spoken language in the world, despite what you once thought. Mandarin comes in first with over 800 million speakers, Spanish in second with 400 million speakers and a close third of English with 300 million speakers.

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In England, only speaking one language (monolingual) is the norm. Therefore it is easy to forget that throughout the rest of the world the norm is speaking multiple languages (bilingual).  English is also seen as a lingua franca (ELF) which means that it is a common language amongst speakers who come from different linguistic backgrounds.

Streven’s world map of English (1980) illustrates the dominance of English and the difference between British English and American English. Therefore the use of the noun “Englishes” can be used as it has been transformed into many different ways by technology and coining.

 

One of the most influential models for considering this term is Braj Kachru’s (1992) three circles model. Examples:

Inner circle varieties (Canadian English – Has two national languages which are English and French and is a mixture of both such as the distinctive vowel pronunciation and the lexis of ‘washroom’ ‘grade one’. )

Outer circle varieties (Indian English – After the British empire, English was seen to be well embedded in India such as syllable timed, not stress timed and the grammatical use of Wh- questions.)

Should apostrophes stay or go?

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The controversial issue of apostrophes is travelling from small conversations to council discussions. On social media there have been thousands of complaints about road signs and everyday comments about the misplaced punctuation. Or the lack of it!

This was first brought to my attention by Birmingham Council who has banned apostrophes in street signs because they spend too much time dealing with complaints about grammar.  Now Bradford Council has to choose whether they should keep or get rid of the dreaded punctuation marks.

Although there is a lot of effort taken to put every sign in top grammatical standards, the signs should be correct.  The coincidental spelling mistake may cause confusion over whether place names should have apostrophes and may cost lots of money to replace them but it is worth it to have the Standard English spelling.

This brings about the question whether if we don’t have apostrophes then…

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