Tuesday, September 11, 2007

English as She is Spoke

The suggestion that prospective immigrants to Britain in search of a job should be able to demonstrate their command of the English language is a bit rich coming from a nation whose attitude towards those speaking other languages is, to say the least, cavalier.
Clearly, it is of value to the immigrant to be able to do so but it would be more equitable perhaps to apply the same test to the British candidates. I reckon, from what I hear on my visits and read in the comment columns on the internet (where grammar, spelling and punctuation are gleefully ignored), many would fail miserably.
And most Europeans (and even some Americans!) pick up the language quickly and there is no better way to learn a language than by living and working in the country.
Currently I am working on a book for a Romanian. I do the writing since his written English is admittedly poor. But his grasp of spoken English is far superior to many of the natives - and, in addition, he can manage fluent French and Italian plus a smattering of Spanish. Much of this facility he attributes to his schooling in Communist Romania where great emphasis was placed upon languages and their basic construction.
Since even spelling seems to have been removed from the curriculum in the schools in the UK and now that the BBC, once an arbiter of the well spoken word, has gone overboard to address the yoof of the nation in their own argot, it seems that the fate of the English language may well lie with the immigrants.
With an ear now un-tuned to the prevailing English patois, I find that it is easier to communicate with those from elsewhere than with many of the native Brits.
Which is a bit sad.


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