November 2021

We had our first guest speaker in this post-Covid era. Trish came to talk with us about gender and language. Backed by sound research, she showed us how words had changed and were still changing according to the demands of society. It was stimulating and made us question many of our assumptions on language.

The follow-up task was to write a piece in the form of a letter to the BBC or a newspaper about an issue regarding language.

CHANGING LANGUAGE

Dear Sir or Madam,

I am writing to raise my concerns about the denigration and bastardisation of our beautiful English language. Our language is the envy of the world and it is no coincidence that it is spoken all over the world. Whatever your situation there is always the perfect and precise word to meet your needs and a few choice adjectives can brighten up the dullest of subjects or conversely tone down an evocative eventuality. Some people might say powerful use of our language helped us win the war; even today who cannot help but be stimulated by listening to Winston Churchill in full flow with “We will fight them on the beaches”. Sadly, today I feel that people do not appreciate or respect our language and this is a mixture of laziness and ignorance. Either, not knowing what word to use in a particular situation or being too lazy to find the correct word has led to a deterioration in the beauty, impact and eloquence of our treasured words and works. Too often the “F” word is used as an easy substitute for the correct choice of word or alternatively words abbreviated owing to laziness e.g C’mon, Yer Jokin, In’it or even blasphemy e.g., Oh my God. In conclusion a little phrase which achieved notoriety a couple of years ago where the subtle use of grammar completely changes the meaning of a group of words: EATS SHOOTS AND LEAVES or EATS, SHOOTS, AND LEAVES.

God bless our language!

Pete D