Wednesday, February 21, 2007

It Takes Blood and Guts To Be This Cool But I'm Still Just A Cliché

Eats shoots and leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation
Being the internet whore that I am, and having far too many online profiles, I'm appalled at the usage of English I see everywhere.

Actually, it's not just online...

OK, so maybe I'm becoming one of those annoying punctuation zealots, (Lynn Truss anyone?) but bad spelling and usage of English pisses me off.

What really gets to me is the bastardisation of the language for the 'street'.

Now I teach in a public school. It's a good school. It does well for the boys there, and I'm proud of what they achieve.

But it's full of pupils who wish/ think they are from 'da ghetto'.

I've had conversations with a few, and said things like:
No you are a nice middle-class white boy from Banstead
or
New Malden is not 'the ghetto'

Now I'm not totally unrealistic. I understand that younger people will want to communicate so their parents can't follow a word they're saying.

But the spilling over of this way of speaking into writing and the use of 'txtspk' in writing and email just gets to me.

Someone I know even said to me that posh-boys go and look at the Urban Dictionary and then start using the words so they are 'gangsta'.

safe
neek
seen
skeen
blud
bro
bruv
innit
wicked
truss
man
keepin it reel
ya get me
fo sho
chillin
relaxin
wot
hangin wiv m8s

What a load of shit.

For fuck's sake - learn to spell and type English properly.

Oh yes - people using these words are from the 'street' and they have grown up in deprived circumstances - that's why they can't write and speak properly...yet they have an internet connection and can post on bebomyspacehi5ringofriendster...

I even had a related discussion with some people I went to secondary school with. I'm able to understand the parts of speech: subject, object, verb, adverb etc. But my contemporaries didn't really know them, and we're considered to be the intellectual elite of the country as grammar-school-educated old-boys.

Even more ironically, my roots are quite clearly (to those who know me) not English.

I learned my English from my grandfather. This is a man who didn't even pass his GCSE equivalent. A man who arrived in Uganda from India barely able to speak English - and went on to be a Hansard reporter and work for the U.N.

He taught my sister and I, about the parts of speech, about spelling, and introduced us to the wonders of the English language.

I think language is what differentiates us from the rest of the animal kingdom.

Language allows us to communicate and create. Humanity can conceive things that don't even exist in reality.

And how it has been abused, diluted, damaged, re-appropriated and mangled. Perhaps there's a link to the state of the world, and our (ab)use of language. (Hang on, someone famous said something like this...)

What is almost frightening to me, is the way language is used in the media. It could be likened to Newspeak.

And yet, some say our language has the power to create our world.
All I have in this world is my word and my balls. And I don't break them for nobody.
J.

PS Post a comment if you know who said that last quote!

This post was brought to you by the group Skunk Anansie (who no longer exist)

Oh and where would I be without wikipedia?