Queen’s English Society says ‘Enuf is Enough, innit’

January 2, 2013 5:38 pm

I read an article recently about the Queen’s English Society having closed. (Hands up, I co-opted the clever title from that article for this blog post, and therefore the copyright remains with the author; however, as no one actually cared enough to read the source material, I should be fine.)

Whoa-whoa-WHOAClosed?  Now just hold up one darn cotton-pickin’ minute here!  Did you read that right? Did I write that right?  Closed … ? Yup. Just reread it. Shuttered.  Kaput.  Defunct.  Pushing up the proverbial daisies. In other words: snuffed it … innit.

QES1

The Queen’s English Society

This society has been railing against incorrect English usage for years, and now they’ve closed, apparently due to a lack of interest. ‘A lack of interest … ?’ you may well splutter, as I did when I read it. (Well, I chuckled. Near enough?) Surely that’s the same as closing the language due to a lack of interest. Calling time on it, dotting your last ‘i’ and crossing your last ‘t’, bolting the doors and going home. Shutting up shop. Forever. Tragic.

I jest, of course. You can’t close a language (can you?). You can close a shop or any other kind of business, put it into receivership and get what you can for it. But a language? I mean, what are you going to do with all your stock? A language. No … ! Ludicrous … ! Patently! You can’t simply give a mental shrug of the shoulders and loftily decide:

‘Well, this particular export isn’t working out at home or abroad because nobody can be bothered to follow the instructions included with the basic kit we send out anymore, so we’re recalling it.

‘Why? Because we’ll decide if and whether you are allowed to like our product – it doesn’t matter that you, the customer, are satisfied – not good enough. Oh no! Not by a long shot.

‘The fact is, you’re using it in-im-dis-un-non-contra-anti-sans-abcorrectingly (who’s to say anymore?) so we’re cancelling it.’

Weird attitude to cop in the first place. I mean, who’s to stop me buying an Armani jacket and cutting off the sleeves to make a fetching leather vest? Who’d want to? No one, least of all Armani. He’d applaud the creativity. Same thing with this English Society nonsense.

Imagine if IKEA or Lego took the same stance. Ruined childhoods and many a shattered Sunday DIY dream would ensue.

Exactly.

Well, duh.

TwitterPhone

Is the age of technology to blame for the demise of the Queen’s English Society?

Of course it closed. Who needs the thing, redundant and obsolete. And their idea to set up an ‘Academy of Contemporary English’ was a frankly weird (and mercifully unsuccessful) attempt at self-imposed cultural policing that’s about 900 years too late to do any good anyway.

Oh, by the way, the use of the word ‘innit’ (which I frequently use in my own books) in the title of the article and this blog post as a good-natured pejorative is indicative of the real nature of the English language – the very nature these English society people tried to police and promptly found themselves sweeping the streets.

‘Innit’ is a contracted form of an English tail question and is therefore a brilliant use of an economy of words in its written form, and, more to the point (as one of my more eagle-eyed respondents pointed out), syllable reduction when spoken.

‘It is cold, isn’t it?’ is five words. ‘Cold, innit’ is two (and, as the same canny respondent noted, in its contracted form, when spoken the phrase loses three – count ‘em – syllables). Anyone who doesn’t like it, doesn’t have to use it in speech or in writing, but can hardly accuse anyone who chooses to do so of doing any more than perpetuating the only consistently ‘correct’ usage of the English language anyway, and that is that it changes as per needs. Period.

Even the MLA and the CMoS are style guides: useful, authorative, essential tools for any writer, or anyone interested in publishing; tools I wholeheartedly endorse, use, and recommend – but they are still precisely that: guides to accepted styles and conventions: written in ink, not stone.

And that’s something these English society people never really understood while they sat round debating whether Subway posters contained the correct usage of the Oxford comma.

Who cares? Get over it: English is dead, long live English!

And anyone who doesn’t like that might as well take up French or Spanish – I hear they have academies there to tell you what to do.

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