In memory of intelligible language

This week’s Friday Reflection author preferred to stay anonymous. But the writer undoubtedly speaks for a lot of people in this condemnation of the direction of our language skills.

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I am glad to see on TV that the schools are going back to basics by again teaching readin’, ritin’ and rithmetic instead of some of the other non-essentials they are now teaching.

Having taught business studies for 35 years in TAFE, including computing from the beginning, starting with electronic typewriters and progressing to PCs, as well as Pitman shorthand, this included teaching English (Australian style). In 1981, when the Australian Macquarie Dictionary was first printed, we were instructed to make that our prescribed dictionary. I still have a copy of the first printing.

Apparently it is a bit too late for some of our younger adults who text all the time. They abbreviate so much (to save money) that we older citizens can’t understand what they are ‘talking’ about.

This slaughter of the English language has now gone into TV ads and commercials. One young lady starts her ad by saying “OMG” and then stops before she finishes the swear word she was going to say. It took me a while to work out what she meant by OMG – “Oh My God” (I think).

Another one that had me wondering was when the ad was saying when some program was going to be on – “Mon Wed and Tom”. I asked myself who Tom was. Then I realised it was “tomorrow” but with a capital letter?

Then, when using Word on the computer, many people rely on the Spellcheck program to fix their spelling. Yes, that’s good if you know how the word is supposed to be spelled (not spelt), which in a lot of cases it is not, because the program gives you American spelling – not Australian.

Instead of Pitman shorthand, we now have Texting Shorthand. Who’s going to compile a dictionary of that?

I have even seen spelling errors on ads printed on the back of buses.

Then there’s the most disrespectful error in the name of a main road. It is not Princess Highway (after Diana) but Princes Highway (one ‘s’) after a time when Prince Albert (actually he was known as Prince Edward, who abdicated) visited Australia when he was about 19 years old. I actually saw a road sign put up by the RMS with it spelled “Princess”. I wrote to them and they painted over the last ‘s’.

My recommendation is that the training of journalists and sales and advertising people should include a subject called Australian English.

Do you have examples of how our language is being ‘slaughtered’?

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