Friday, May 17, 2013

English: A mongrel mouthful

Stephen Fry schools Jonathan Ross on the provenance of English and why RP die-hards, grammar Nazis and advocates of the U and Non-U distinction are talking a load of arse-gravy.

English is the most cross-bred hybrid language on earth and is constantly evolving. Because it evolves and changes with time, there can be no way of fixing some historical state of being for the language and casting it in stone as the definitive version of English.

Likewise the applications of English are equally varied and diverse and the language adjusts to meet these various uses. Fry asserts that true lovers of language would appreciate this fluidity of use, which sets English apart from French, for instance. French has a language board which legislates against improper use, specifically the infiltration of English, that virus of a patois that infects cultures at will.

We couldn't agree more. Clinging to some perceived idyllic form of English – like what you were taught at school, for instance – which itself supplanted an earlier form is prescriptivist bullshit. It's like saying popular music is not correct unless it sounds like 1990s pop music.

Mr Fry, over to you...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I could listen to Mr Fry wax lyrical all day long...