Counterpoint by Scott Freeman It’s goodbye to the Queen’s English


Amid all the hullabaloo of the Diamond Jubilee one piece of news all but passed me by this week: The Queen’s English Society has decided to call it a day.

Apparently the group, which was set up 40 years ago to protect our language from misuse, has announced its closure because too few of us care any more.

Poor spelling and grammar are now so commonplace in Britain in 2012 that the good men and women of the society have thrown in the towel. The rise and rise of email, texts and tweets means there is, it would seem, no room for ‘proper’ English.

It’s true, every day we are bombarded with words, both spoken and written which break the rules of language as laid down in textbooks.

Mrs F has long-since got used to me verbally ‘correcting’ BBC broadcasters. My current bêtes noire are ‘unchartered’ when they mean ‘uncharted’ as in uncharted waters, and ‘might of’ in place of ‘might have’.

It’s a living language, she says; and she is right, but at times I think we may be killing it rather than letting it breathe. Apostrophes must surely now be entitled to some sort of protected status, so abused and neglected are they.

Of course, there will be pedants out there who will be able to point to my less-than-perfect rendering of my mother tongue each week in this column.

But I maintain that language should be about clarity, enabling us to convey meaning from one to another. Without rules we can believe we are saying one thing when, in fact, the recipient understands something else.

David Cameron’s toe-curling “lol” lots-of-love text messages to Rebekah Brooks made us all laugh out loud.

The English language is a beautifully diverse language, melding as it does ancient dialects, Anglo-Saxon, Germanic and Norman French. Of course it must continue to evolve, but please spare us the malapropisms and mangled bureaucratic mumbo jumbo which spout forth from all too many of our politicians and broadcasters.