YP Letters: Lamenting the abuse of our language

Parish priest Neil McNicholas took BBC presenters to task in a recent column.
Parish priest Neil McNicholas took BBC presenters to task in a recent column.
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From: John Howe, Ascough Wynd, Bedale.

FULL marks to Neil McNicholas for his article (The Yorkshire Post, June 2) on the abuse of English and pronunciation. Like him, I may be called pedantic by some people although not, I am sure, by my English master from the 1960s.

In addition to the examples Neil gives, my pet hate is the common response to the question ‘How are you?’, which theses days brings the reply ‘I’m good’. My standard response is ‘I didn’t ask if you were behaving yourself I asked how you were!’

From: ME Wright, Harrogate.

THANKS to Neil McNicholas for questioning arbitrary changes to the English language, which are mindless fads, rather than enrichments. This is not about “talking posh,” just a plea for speaking clearly that which is not only our national language, but the world’s.

To Fr Neil’s list of irritants, may I add the use of ‘like’ as weird form of punctuation: “We were like talking and he said like ...”

‘Stood’ and ‘standing’ were memorably resolved by Lancashire comic Hylda Baker with “I was stood standing...” I can’t quarrel with that one!

From: Canon Michael Storey, Healey Wood Road, Brighouse.

NEIL McNicholas has set out many recent examples of the misuse of words. I’ll add another one to his list – the use of lay and lie. Too often is “lay used when “lie” should be used. One can only “lay down”, perhaps, if one is a duck – though ducks usually lay eggs!

From: Karl Sheridan, Selby Road, Holme on Spalding Moor.

POOR enunciation appears to be becoming acceptable even on the radio and TV – the excuse being that it is regional dialects. Sorry, but that is wrong: it’s because people have been poorly educated by slovenly teachers who apparently cannot be bothered to enunciate the words properly themselves. I dread the future for the true spoken English!

From: Geoffrey North, Silverdale Avenue, Guiseley.

I HAVE read, with interest, the article by Neil McNicholas and it reminds me of a letter of mine which was published in The Yorkshire Post a few years ago. In that I was lamenting, amongst other things, the use of plural verbs with singular subjects e.g. “Leeds United are…” How right he is to complain and some journalists themselves, who should be experts in the use of their language, often make basic mistakes.

From: Brian Sheridan, Redmires Road, Sheffield.

I READ with interest Neil McNicholas’s piece on abuse of the English language by announcers and newsreaders. I would also include some journalists.

February has become Febewary or Febry. The habit of raising the pitch of the voice at the end of a sentence, regardless of the context, is an Australian trait and its prevalence among young English women has been ascribed to the hugely popular soap Neighbours.

“Cook” and “book” are now pronounced “kerk” and “berk”, “too” is pronounced the same as “tea” and footballers are “ferblers”. “I was sat” and “I was stood” are now endemic. “Sitting” and “standing” could become as archaic as “gotten” which, interestingly, survives in American English.

Such solecisms may irritate pedants like Neil and me but they don’t diminish the English language as a precise instrument. Unlike the bête noire I share with him – the abuse of that invaluable word “unique” by people who should know better.

From: Karen Tiller, Richmond.

THIS article really touched a chord. Why the BBC dropped the pronunciation of the x in sixth is a mystery and I could not agree more regarding the lax use of grammar by presenters who reach out to millions of people. To add to list is the incorrect pronunciation of ‘roofs’ as ‘rooves’ which would have incurred the wrath of my English teacher!

From: Peter Horton, Sandy Lane, Ripon.

NEIL McNicholas makes some very valid points about the sloppy use of English by those who really should know better and who should set an example to the rest of us. Even more irritating is the habit of all and sundry from news readers and reporters to sports enthusiasts constantly and incorrectly using the word “fantastic”, often repeated in almost every sentence. To compound this error is the frequent and annoying use of the cliche “absolutely fantastic”. In my school days we were given a blacklist of words and phrases not to be used, and these examples undoubtedly would have been included today.

Test all drivers every 10 years

From: H Marjorie Gill, Clarence Drive, Menston.

RE the tragic case of the 80-year-old lady driver whose foot slipped off the brake to the accelerator and unfortunately caused injury to eight young people (The Yorkshire Post, June 2)

Naturally there is a call for older drivers to be banned. Last year – after having driven since 1942 and having taken an Advanced Driving Test in 1995 – I thought that I would try to discover how and where I might be able to take another Advanced Driving Test.

I became ill with pneumonia just after Christmas, and when I came back home, my doctor listened to concerns about my driving from my sister and asked the DVLA to consider banning me from driving. Until June 16, when I shall have a driving assessment, I am still banned.

During that time, I have had to beg friends and neighbours for lifts. A variety of different drivers have taken me about and the standard of driving has varied.

All drivers should have either a driving test, or a driving assessment, every 10 years.