Today I am heartened to see the media have grasped the opportunity to have another go at teenagers! The net and newspapers are teeming with items castigating teenagers for poor use of the English language. Great init?
To be accurate, they were actually reporting on some comments and observations made by the respected and famous British actress Emma Thompson.
Discussing the teenage usage of slang, Emma observes that it’s not always a poor command of English that is at the root of the problem. She believes it probably relates more realistically to a craving for social acceptance amongst peers, as opposed not being able to speak properly…
BBC: “There is the necessity to have two languages – one that you use with your mates and the other that you need in any official capacity. Or you’re going to sound like a knob.” (Emma Thompson)
I must say I have to agree with Emma; the language you use and the way you speak is probably the most powerful tool of social interaction available to us. Language is used for both inclusive and exclusive reasons, a methodology by which we creat insiders and outsiders of a group. It is immaterial if that is a group of kids at school, the technical team at work, our county, our region or indeed our country. To be fully included you have to be able to speak and understand ‘the language’, if you don’t you are in effect, an ‘outsider’.
Understanding that factor, wouldn’t you think that when the British are abroad they would endeavour to try to speak the language of their host nation? Unfortunately this doesn’t often happen, probably because of some throwback from the days of the Imperialistic Empire.
Another example of the language thing is the group of teenage boys who live next door to me. They converse in an almost unidentifiable alien tongue. They drop letters from words, they attenuate or annunciate in strange places, they have their own constructed street words and continuously drone in a monotone drawl of laziness. It’s a good thing they probably don’t actually talk about anything I would be remotely interested in, if they did I wouldn’t be able to understand any way.
I’ll just settle for the begrudgingly offered grunt which usually comes in reply to my daily “good morning” greeting, always assuming they have managed to haul their lazy arse out of bed before noon that is!
I also find it extremely amusing when I pass a group of kids in the street from the local well healed private school. You would naturally expect them to be battling with their conversations, fighting to get their words passed the large quantity of plums obstructing their mouth. Not a bit of it, they shuffle along uttering the words and sentences you would only expect to burst forth from some Yardie drug Barron! This pseudo West Indian street speak may appear cool to the group however, everyone else looks upon it with merriment or disdain… Does Jemima Puddleduck-Smythe 8xGCSE A* and bar really expect society to take her seriously with her “wicked init ok ya”?
Back to Emma’s reasoning behind the slang usage, she also commented on that other great example of our craving for social acceptance and perfection, the now common place surgical enhancement…
“It really does seem to me to be quite psychologically dysfunctional and part of this ridiculous culture of perfection.” (Emma Thompson)
Isn’t it time that people in our society found the ability and confidence to be an individual?
Nuff respec Nanny you is well cool
- Actress Emma Thompson attacks poor language (telegraph.co.uk)
- Thompson’s war on sloppy speech (mirror.co.uk)
- Thompson attacks sloppy speaking (bbc.co.uk)