Saturday, 21 January 2012

# 21 The Queen's English

I came upon this little gem the other week courtesy of It was called 'Can You Pronounce All These Words Correctly?'. I only stumbled on a few of the words which I had genuinely never heard of. What is a Melpomene or a Feoffer anyway?

Using, or more specifically, writing good English is one of my OCDs. Proper use of the language is something that sadly appears to have been lost with so many other useful trades we once had in this country - plumbers, builders and factory machinists (there is a logic to that last one).

There is nothing more guaranteed to make me close down another blogger's page or Facebook newsfeed than sloppy use of our native tongue. For some reason it gets people's backs up when I criticise bad spelling or punctuation or a lack of grammar. They say there are more important things in life. Well yes, and there are more important things in life than beer, Primark and fish and chips on a Friday night but you don't give those up do you? We have a fantastic language. You can convey anything you want to say through it and to master it well and coherently is a beautiful thing.

To be able to write in such a way that keeps your reader coming back for more is a talent. Your subject may not be that interesting, but if the way you write it is, they will read. Likewise, an interesting subject can be ruined by poor writing because you may find yourself stumbling at every sentence.

I don't think I was particularly skilled as a school child. My interests were sewing, history and English. I read and wrote feverishly on many subjects including history and I was a self taught seamstress for many years. Once upon a time, had I not been a clothing designer, I would have been a scriptwriter and author. As it is, the latter has now become an achievement of mine.

Being able to write well is a beautiful skill. I don't understand why it has been lost, but I am sure it stems from the way it is taught in schools because the number of school leavers with a poor grasp of written English seems very poor to me.

What has happened to the system? I was taught well, but I also had the enthusiasm of my parents to keep me moving along and keep me interested. As a result I enjoyed it and still do. Perhaps it's a combination. Perhaps it's because in this era of quick and easy technology writing in full sentences that are grammatically and punctually correct slows us down. Perhaps some of us just don't care anymore.

I'm not a one for text speak and I generally write my text messages in real sentences. I just can't help it. And I'm not apologising for it either.

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