My dismay over the collapse of the Queen’s English Society was brief.
The laptop and Internet have made it an individualistic world these days, so it seems apt that we should now fight our battles individually, coming together with like-minded souls only in a looser sense than in times gone by.
But rest assured, the fight will go on: in this case the fight to save the English language from the abysmal ‘anything goes’ mentality – bone idleness dressed up as liberalism – so treacherously endorsed by Professor of English Margaret Reynolds last week.
I don’t know how many right-on boxes you have to tick to get a comment piece in the Guardian these days but Prof. Reynolds clearly wasn’t taking any chances.
“English ain’t what it was, but we should celebrate its cultural diversity”
“But variety in speech and dialect is one of the delights of English”
Celebrate ‘difference’. Check.
“I care more that my students think for themselves, that they develop a critical understanding, so they can set up their own argument.”
Self-expression. So much more progressive than beastly rules and that ‘learning off by heart’ nonsense, as modern comprehensives so wonderfully illustrate. Check.
“The other thing that I value is a respect for the interests and feelings of others. Mispronounced or miss-spelt words worry me a bit. But stumbling over names, or failing to remember them, bothers me more.”
‘Feelings’ trump everything. Check.
“But cultural policing (even of this kind) is always dangerous, because it says that I am right and you are wrong”
And we can’t have judgmentalism, can we? Not at any price. Check.
And now, the counter-revolutionary agenda. From this small corner of the universe, Notepad on Life shall continue to fight for a language that reasonably evolves within parameters made known to all, for two reasons:
First, I happen to think that any Society that allows the small rules to slip will find the big ones crashing around its ears before you can say “split infinitive”.
Second, were I a plumber and found someone crapping in my toolbox, you wouldn’t expect me to let it ride. Well, I am a writer, the English language is my toolbox and when people like Prof. Margaret Reynolds…
I’ll let you complete the analogy.