Re: [NTLK] OT Do you speak BBC English?

From: Lord Groundhog <>
Date: Mon Sep 03 2007 - 12:08:21 EDT

~~~ On 2007/09/03 16:48, at wrote ~~~

> Hmm... I think I just got "grammar served"...? :O)
> Just to briefly clarify a point, I never maintained that the English should
> adapt our language practices.
> I believe that 'human perceptions' play a role in this as well. We judge
> others based upon the manner in which they use language. If one tends to speak
> and write like a British aristocrat from before the First World War (to
> paraphrase Kurt Vonnegut), we tend to 'disregard' the message. I say, "Write
> not from the gutter, nor from the parapet, but from a respectable vantage".


Sorry I misunderstood. I guess I fixated on your rather scathing remarks
about the English used in BBC broadcasts you've heard.

You're right about the rôle of human perceptions. Obviously language and
communication are psychological processes first and last. As for your
comment about writing (and for our purpose here, speaking), I think I'd say
that the BBC has been doing just that for the most part, as I indicated when
I talked about the gradual modifications made in so-called "BBC English"
over the decades I've been here. Perhaps the difficulty is that the parapet
and gutter are both in different places here in the UK from where they are
in the USA. It would follow that the respectable vantage might be in a
different place as well. But of course the primary audience of the BBC's
English language broadcasts will be the British public, not the American

As an experiment, try listening to BBC broadcasts and think of it as
listening to a programme in your "second language" -- as if you were
listening to a programme in Spanish or Chinese or Danish. Since I started
thinking of British English as another language and not my mother tongue,
I've found it's easy for me to make the mental adjustment I need to listen
comfortably, not only to the radio but to everything around me. (After 3
decades, I'm told I've become fluent.)

Before I go, I've never heard the expression "grammar served". What does it
mean, and is it based on some more general pattern of formation that appears
in other expressions?


~~~ ~~~ ~~~

³Any sufficiently advanced magic is indistinguishable from a Newton.²
            -- What Arthur C. Clarke meant to say
(With thanks to Chod Lang)

~~~ ~~~ ~~~
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Received on Mon Sep 3 12:08:36 2007

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