Language is the most beautiful God given gift that we have had bestowed upon us. Apparently, the level of sophistication of our language and our ability to use it for reasoning, is one of the factors that separates us from other animals. You just have to listen to a football crowd chanting to appreciate what I'm saying!
The frustrating thing for a writer is the misuse and dumbing down of our vehicle. An example that irritated me last week was intended to be educational. Children all over the UK were given the chance to be newscasters and reporters, one of the adverts had a girl who was speaking into a microphone and said,
'What kind of a story are we talking?'
Forgive me for being picky but if we are trying to educate our youngsters surely we need to have them use the language in an acceptable manner. As it stands the above is incomplete and therefore just wrong.
I'm not talking about returning to 1950s BBC speak. As I have often been heard to say there is only one all-pervading factor in life and that is change. Language is dynamic and forever changing but within that we should maintain a framework of what is acceptable. The rapidity of changes in language is increasing but it is my contention that those changes driven by Twitter speak and the like are actually driving a linguistic wedge between the generations. In the development of that process some of the beauty of our language will disappear in a sea of acronyms.
I received an email the other day that was purely for amusement and lists some real remarks between lawyers and witnesses. The fun is inescapable but it is fundamentally the language in a courtroom context that causes that amusement. Here are some extracts.
ATTORNEY: What gear were you in at the moment of the impact?
WITNESS: Gucci, sweats and Reeboks.
ATTORNEY: Are you sexually active?
WITNESS: No, I just lie there.
ATTORNEY: This Myasthenia Gravis, does it affect your memory at all?
ATTORNEY: And in what ways does it affect your memory?
WITNESS: I forget..
ATTORNEY: You forget? Can you give us an example of something you forgot?
ATTORNEY: The youngest son, the 20-year-old, how old is he?
WITNESS: He's 20, much like your IQ.
ATTORNEY: Doctor , how many of your autopsies have you performed on dead people?
WITNESS: All of them. The live ones put up too much of a fight.
ATTORNEY: Doctor, before you performed the autopsy, did you check for a pulse?
ATTORNEY: Did you check for blood pressure?
ATTORNEY: Did you check for breathing?
ATTORNEY: So, then it is possible that the patient was alive when you began the autopsy?
ATTORNEY: How can you be so sure, Doctor?
WITNESS: Because his brain was sitting on my desk in a jar.
ATTORNEY: I see, but could the patient have still been alive, nevertheless?
WITNESS: Yes, it is possible that he could have been alive and practising Law.
By continuing to write stories, blogs and the like we are disseminating the language and should continue to do so. That action will maintain our own view of the language and hopefully standards.