Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Things about Modern Life that drive me clean around the bend.

Today I was a reluctant witness to the death of the English Language. It
came in the shape of a phone call, and it so thoroughly unnerved me I
nearly moved to another carriage in the train.

Now there are university professors who proclaim that spelling, grammar
and language really don't matter that much. Honestly? Well I beg to

The unwitting murderer of English was a young woman. Late teens, or
possibly early twenties. Admittedly this slaughter was a social call, so
this young woman was clearly far from being alone in her inability to
articulate a complete sentence which made any kind of sense.

First of all, I will take us back in time. For all of you out there who
remember the days of vinyl... ever put a 7 inch 45 on at the wrong
speed? Say 78? This young woman spoke rather like a 45 played at 78.
Words tumbled out of her mouth like a barrel going over Niagra Falls.

Like was used a lot, like every other sentence. Incomplete sentences,
like every other statement. She said "I don't know" rather a lot too. I
was trying to decide whether this was intended as a form of apology for
her incredibly limited like vocabulary.

I started to count the "likes" there were 97 of them between Wimbledon
and Clapham Junction... at one point they were coming along at a rate of
one every three seconds.

Apparently, the modern teenager now leaves school with a vocabulary
which barely contains a thousand words.

I'm sorry, but that is incredibly poor. It would appear that our
children are being deprived of the ability to express themselves with
anything approaching coherence. Presumably as our youngsters regress,
the English will return to dwelling in caves.

I left the train feeling confused. Sad (yes), annoyed (most certainly),
and very depressed.

I decided between appointments to have a drink and a sandwich.

Can someone tell me why, if I order a nice cold bottle of mineral water,
that the accompanying glass must always arrive with a slice of lemon? If
I want lemonade, I will order lemonade. I didn't... I wanted water. A
slice of lemon always makes your nice glass of cold water taste of
toothpaste. And no. I have no idea why. So no extraneous floating fruit
or vegetables, please.

Why, oh why, must the more upmarket restaurants do chef-y things with
classic dishes? These chef-y things don't always work. And they always
double the price of the dish.

Since most of the rest of the day went brilliantly, I suppose I really
shouldn't complain, but there you have it. Modern life... not
necessarily an improvement.

Posted via email from mock-ing-bird's posterous


Anonymous said...

Thank you for articulating something that makes me want to strangle people on a daily basis. On the news this morning there was a man suggesting that there is no 'proper' way to pronounce words and we've just been conditioned into doing it in a particular way because of convention. Well, that may be so but it is the convention and people should learn it!

Also, I was once sat in a hospital waiting room watching some rubbish talk show on television. This woman's favourite word was 'yeah'. Every ten seconds at the maximum. It's lucky I didn't put my fist through the screen.

ladaisi said...

Dear Mockingbird -

Thank you for your helpful comment on my blog. This was exactly the sort of advice I needed, especially because of your personal story about setting up your own publishing company. I visited your website and fell in love with the concept of a "farmer's market" publishing company that picks up the creativity that mainstream companies so often overlook.

I'll admit, the main reason I have been considering this degree is because of their writing workshops. At these workshops, the students will meet publishers and agents, making excellent contacts for when their manuscripts are complete. I agree, though, going to school will not necessarily enhance my writing abilities. I write every day because I love it, and my stories are from the heart. That being said, I've had my fair share of rejection letters over the first manuscript I wrote - a full-length novel about a girl who is abandoned by her father and must learn to survive on her own. So I've been feeling a bit discouraged as of late about the possibility of getting myself published without contacts.

You have given me hope. Thank you.

I am now following your blog. I am also at a loss concerning the downfall of the English language, and lemons in water do taste like toothpaste. I appreciate your sense of humor.

- Lauren

Anonymous said...

Wonderfully written and also a pleasure to read of another lover of English grammar.
Thank you.