There are always going to be words of our language (in my case, obviously English), which we don’t like. When I hear people saying American words when there are perfectly good British ones and whenever a red squiggly line appears when I write ‘colour’, for example, my inner tea-drinking repressed British-self howls in despair. Similarly in a grammatical sense, I HATE misuse of the apostrophe. To me it is so simple, I find it difficult to understand that other people don’t get it. Will it get to a stage where, like the Dutch, we use apostrophes for plurals, or cease using apostrophes because of many people’s tendency to hyper-correct themselves? (That’s to say, not being sure, so adding an apostrophe in the hope that it’s right, when you didn’t actually need it in the first place).
The problem is is that most people don’t realise that every generation speaks a new type of English. When you’re a teenager you are so desperate, whether subconsciously or consciously, to create your own identity that new words come in all the time. ‘Like’, for example, started in California in the late 80s/90s and yet the people who used it then are continuing to use it today, and more and more generations are using it as it filled a need to express quotations and thoughts. (“So he was like, really angry, and I was like, ‘What’s your problem?'”) On an episode of the Graham Norton show Miriam Margolyes chastised Will.I.Am because of his obsession with the word “like”, which peppers most of the generation between 0-40’s speech. My grandma agreed with Miriam Margolyes and said that it wasn’t proper English and how much she disliked it. This idea of ‘proper English’ seriously annoys me. Yes, I can understand when you’re talking about published essays and formal writing environments that you have to maintain a certain type of style, but in terms of speaking I believe this snobbery and hierarchy is simply due to a fear of change.
Everyone, to an extent, hates change. The pound coin will change in 2017 and although the decision is perfectly logical because it’s been in circulation for too long now, it is all that I have ever known. There will now be a next generation who look at the old pound coins and don’t have the sense of familiarity that I have had my whole life. i realised there are 50 year olds who have only ever sung God Save the Queen, and for the rest of our lives (unless Prince George has a first daughter and Charles, William and George all die very early) we will be singing God Save the King. It’s like the post I wrote about getting older – change, no matter how much you embrace it, will sometimes make you uneasy. To criticise how people speak is fighting against language change. The dictionary has new words every year – unfriend, to tweet, selfie and payday loans, for example, are new words filling new concepts. ‘Cassette player‘, which I’m sure all of us used if we’re over 18, is now a source of contention in the dictionary as we don’t necessarily need it anymore (unless, I suppose, you’re writing a book about the 90s).
There will be a time in which color may preside over ‘colour’, as when there are two words meaning the same thing one will always win in the end. While I myself try and remain open and neutral when people use words that I hate as I know it says a lot more about myself and my attitude, I still like to say I watched a film about a dustbin lorry which stopped at a pavement to pick up a man obsessed with maths outside his flat wearing blue trousers eating chips. Just because.