27 April 2020


(1) The ritual preamble of meaningless 'fillers' used by so many of those who chatter "to Camera" before they feel adequately fuelled up to make substantive utterance gets ever more excruciatingly long. I heard, a few evenings ago, the following. I am not making this up.

"Yeah-I-mean-look-you-know ...".

Six words before intelligible communication was even attempted! Is this a record?

[The Apostate Bishop in C S Lewis's The Great Divorce began one of his replies with"Well, really, you know"; the book is dated 1946. In 1932, Peter Wimsey said "Well, really, don't you know", but he was masquerading as a Silly Ass.]

(2) A singular noun with a dependent genitive plural seems nowadays invariably to attract a plural verb:

"The presence of antibodies don't guarantee immunity ...".

"The number of deaths are low ..."

(3) The glottal stop seems to have migrated from 'Estuary English' and to be spreading, virus-like, in every patois. I can't remember when I last heard the word Communi:y pronounced with an audible t. Except by North Americans, God bless them, who say (what strikes an English ear as) Communiddy!

(4) Has "Universal Education" achieved anything other than irritating logorrhea among the intellectually challenged?


Zephyrinus said...

"Has "Universal Education" achieved anything other than irritating logorrhea among the intellectually challenged?"

Nah. Innit ?

Mick Jagger Gathers No Mosque said...

Dear Father, Americans have become infected with the disease of beginning every repose to a question with So

Thus, Governor Desantis (holy) why are you risking the lives of your constituents by letting Church services continue

So, I am doing that because ....

frjustin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Scribe said...

Overheard in Rhyl: 'I'm goin' into Presta:n with Na:alie to ge: a ta::oo.' Clever Radio 4 'personalities' also insert the occasional glottal stop for 'woke' credibility into their endless stream of banalities. While on the subject of grammar, I notice that the awkward expression 'his or her', created as a sop to wimmin, has now been universally replaced by 'they' 'their' or 'them'. I read the following somewhere: 'An Anglican priest will have to give their consent to this measure in order to be licensed.' Father, this is bad grammar, bad and wrong, and will remain so until the end of the age and beyond. And another thing...

PDLeck said...

Wotcha, Favver.

Standards are most definitely falling and with the full knowledge and approval of those who should be protecting those standards. When I mark examination scripts and encounter a novel spelling I am not to reject it. I am expected to say out loud the word the pupil has offered and if its sounds phonetically correct I am to accept it.

There are no examinations to mark this summer. This unanticipated hiatus has helped me finally make up my mind. I shall mark examination scripts no more. I cannot be complicit in allowing standards to drop.

If I were a pupil today I would be most highly insulted. The implication is the current generation are too stupid to be taught to high standards. However, that is simply not true. It is the system they have no option but to go through that is making them stupid.

See ya la'er.

Anonymous said...

Fr. you missed the new european country idaly

WGS said...

Well, you never know. You know.
and then there's "now ... at the hour of our death". I doubt that you'll hear the missing "and".

Ceile De said...

Loose vowel syndrome has also spread out from the Estuary. Not quite a pandemic but....

Stephen said...

It could also be a natural evolution to more distinctive dialects of English; but that still leaves open what might trigger one of the more pervasive dialects around the globe to be established as "High English", even as Dante triggered his regional use of Italian to achieve "High Italian" status (and that it was also the native tongue of St. Francis of Assisi helped as well - bit of a nice solid one-two punch to take out any would be competitors from north or south). And, High German was still in use in the courts of northern Europe up to at least when Charles XII was crowned in Sweden 1697 (what with all that Bavarian blood in him, it must have been quite a compromise for all.)

As a precaution, then, dear Fr. Hunwicke, I recommend, on the off-chance that Brooklynese might win out, for you to devote a few hours to watching a old American TV show "the Honeymooners" to brush up your Shakespeare, or, your Gleason, in this case.

Atticus said...

"None of us are perfect."

daldred said...

"The presence of antibodies don't guarantee immunity ...".

Mishearing, perhaps. Clearly the antibodies are bearing gifts.

GOR said...

@Atticus – I agree wholeheartedly! When tempted – as one inevitably is – I mentally note: ‘none’ = ‘no one’, which reinforces correctness.

Josephus Muris Saliensis said...

I think the American 'So...' has a different origin. I believe it comes through German influence, and is the equivalent of the German 'Also', nearly, but more than, the Latin 'ergo'. 'Therefore' doesn't really do it justice, whatever the dictionary may say. It is not a filler, but means precisely: "I have listed to your question carefully, and understand what you are asking, I confirm that am qualified to answer, and shall therefore attempt to to give a full and honest reply. In exchange, it is incumbent upon you to take note of what I have said."

Not bad for two small letters!

frjustin said...

Professor Higgins has an epic rant in "My Fair Lady":

'This is what the British population / Calls an elementary education?!
'Hear a Yorkshireman, or worse / Hear a Cornishman converse -
'l'd rather hear a choir singing flat.'

'An Englishman's way of speaking absolutely classifies him.
'The moment he talks he makes some other Englishman despise him.

'Oh, why can't the English learn to...

'...set a good example to people whose English is painful to your ears.
'The Scotch and the lrish leave you close to tears.
'There even are places where English completely disappears.
'Why, in America they haven't used it for years!'

Luke said...

I'm not used to reading praise for the diction of North Americans! Maybe you had only Canadians in mind? (I'm in the U.S.A.) I'm wondering what you think of the theory that the Scots/Irish Appalachians spake, and still speak, an authentic form of Elizabethan English that is no longer spoken in Britain.

Terry said...

I applaud your commitment to precision, Father Hunwicke, as I too am easily irritated by incorrect use of language. So you will understand why I was puzzled by the fact that on two recent occasions (your blog posts of 17 and 25 April) you referred to BBC Radio 4 as the “Home Service”. Why the inexactitude? The BBC Home Service was a relatively short-lived phenomenon that only lasted for 28 years and was abolished nearly 53 years ago, while Radio 4 has been with us ever since. So Radio 4 has lasted almost twice as long as the Home Service (so far), and only someone with an inaccurate grasp of British radio history could suggest that what happened back in 1967 was that the Home Service was simply renamed Radio 4. No, the changes in the BBC networks in September 1967 were more complicated and far-reaching than that.

As I say, I was puzzled. But then then an acquaintance of mine came up with a possible explanation. His hypothesis is that those who regard themselves (and are regarded by others) as ‘traditional’ Catholics are driven by a psychological need to reject any change that has taken place in the world since about 1960. They may claim that their objections to the changes that have taken place in the Church since Vatican 2 are driven by theological considerations, but my friend suggests that it’s all part of a yearning to go back to the 1950s, to a culture in which they felt empowered. Thus they not only reject liturgical change, but they tend to reject changes in the role of women in society, they tend to dislike stylistic changes in popular music, they tend to object to the removal of dead languages from the school curriculum – and they seek to ignore what they see as new-fangled names for radio networks. All these things, according to my acquaintance, are too much of a challenge to the psychological schema of the traditionalist.

An interesting hypothesis, I thought.

Very best wishes to all

Terry Loane

Chris said...

Singular they is first cited by the OED from 1375, making it older than singular you. Therefore, if thou objectest to it as a novelty, thou must for consistency revive the second person singular.