I was a patient some years ago in a West Country hospital; a nurse with a strong Scottish accent addressed me. I couldn't make out what she was saying, so I smiled broadly and nodded.
But this was not good enough.
She repeated her message. It had some of these sounds in it: "w'nid so' o' y'wi". I smiled even more affirmatively. What else could I do?
She went off, looking miffed. A couple of minutes later, another nurse, manifestly armed for combat, came up to my bed. "My colleague tells me that you are refusing to supply a urine sample", she said.
Going back over the Scottish syllables I had been offered, I was able to reconstruct them in my mind as "We need some of your Wee."
What I had been grappling with was two tough linguistic barriers. (1): A propensity to elide consonants;and (2): In medical English, I now understand, 'urine' is a non-term; 'wee' has supplanted it. (I now also know that another piece of modern professional technical medicalese is 'poo'. Had I then been aware of this, I could have replied to the nurse with a warm and inviting "Poo too?")
I suspect that a reason for this all-important 'wee' and 'poo' is an underlying convention whereby medical functionaries believe it is important to infantilise patients. The smart way of doing this is perceived to be the imposition of baby-talk as the lingua franca of the ward. When I was again hospitalised during this past twelve-month, one officiant kept addressing me as 'My lovely'. I put up with this for three days; then something snapped within me and I snarled "I am not your lovely and, for that matter, you are not my lovely".
Dialects, dialects. During the Beeb's Thought for the Day not long ago, an 'academic' twice confused the verbs lie and lay.
There is a remedy for this.
If every little boy and girl passing through the English educational system were again to be taught the Attic Greek of the 'Classical' period, before s/he embarked upon Modern English, they would all be well primed in the verb Histemi, which, as you will recall, has some parts transitive and other parts intransitive.
Then, when these delighful tinies approached the more advanced stumbling-blocks of our current chilly Northern dialect, they would be fore-armed. As well as properly formed in the dialogues of Plato.
Should I patent this as 'Hunwicke's New Elementary Linguistics'?