In the wake of the response to the EDL last week, I read this article, which told me and the sane parts of society to stop laughing at their terrible destruction of the English language. The reason: because it doesn’t stop them, and it just looks like elitist, middle-class left-wingers mocking northern, working class white people for their lack of education.
Now, I have some problems with this analysis. Firstly, if you can’t laugh at a sign that says ‘RESPECT ARE COUNTRY – SPEAK ENGLISH’ or ‘NEVER SUBMIT TO ASLAN’ I don’t think you have a particularly well formed sense of humour. Secondly why is defending the English language from idiotic spelling and grammar errors only the realm of the elitist middle-class?
Personally I think every single person, whether from a country estate or a council estate, should defend the English language from the horrors of the misplaced apostrophe or the ‘there, their, they’re’ debacle. I don’t criticise poor spelling because of some deeply held disregard I have for northerners or the ‘white working-class’ (which is a bollocks construct anyway). This argument also suggests that only working-class people are uneducated and stupid, and only middle-class people are educated and intelligent. Which is just dumb.
I know plenty of people you might describe as working class who are incredibly intelligent, and who pay a lot of attention to their use of the English language. I also know a lot of people who you might deem middle class who are utterly stupid and ignorant. They couldn’t care less about their butchering of language – I went to school with a lot of them.
You’re probably going to hate me shortly, but I’m one of those people that will tell you if your apostrophe is in the wrong place. I’ve even been known to tell people making signs, in pubs usually, to get their grammar right. You want to send me a text message? Use proper spelling and grammar. You want to message me on Grindr? I won’t respond to ‘wuu2’ or ‘Hi m8, how r u, wanna sck’. No. No, no, no. I’m browsing the profiles on well-known dating websites, I see a pretty face, I read on. You say this: ‘if u wanna no more, msg me.’ I move swiftly on.
The EDL wants us to take them seriously as a peaceful protest movement. Their spelling means that I can’t. Nor can I take seriously any ‘organisation’ that doesn’t put enough effort into their public profile to make sure that simple spelling and grammar errors are corrected. Poor use of the English language doesn’t show a lack of education, differences in class, or place of birth. It shows complete laziness and ignorance. Everyone makes the occasional mistake, but this can be countered by taking the time to check what you’ve written.
When I receive a letter, an email or a text message with glaring spelling or grammar mistakes I feel that the person sending it to me has no respect for me. They don’t have the respect to spend a little time putting the effort in and check what they’re doing. So people. Write me a text in full sentences. Make sure your public twitter feed is spelt correctly, and if not, delete the tweets. If you’re writing a sign, put the apostrophe in the right place.
I want to start a new English Defence League – defending the English language from morons who could not care less. We’ll march through the streets with chalk and markers, correcting glaring spelling mistakes as we go. Our chants on good grammar will drown out those who would do our language harm. We’ll burn copies of Webster’s Dictionary in defiance of its bastardisation of the English language. We will boycott the businesses of well-known language destroyers. We will use our twitter feed to decry the people who were born in this country and can’t even speak our language.
Join me to save the English language.