Thursday, 30 September 2021

Language and language learning.

Simon Jenkins wrote in the Guardian recently about dialect and accent and accurate grammar and how they affect progress up the ladder of promotion. Listening to presenters and broadcasters on radio and television, I hear a range of accents and nobody seems to object to them. My mother always used to say that her sister, who had a strong Yorkshire accent (Now, why did my mother not have the same accent? Did it get rubbed off when she moved away from home during the war? Like the graduates who move from the North to the South nowadays? ) always sounded rather dopey and was sometimes not taken seriously as a result, despite her being an intelligent woman. It’s to be hoped that would no longer be the case today. But I’m not entirely convinced.

Incorrect grammar, on the other hand, really annoys me. I’ve just about learnt to live with “me and my friend are doing this” but I can’t abide “will you do this for my friend and I”. Just one of those things. Accents may not bother me but there are some intonations that turn me off. There are a number of presenters/commentators/announcers on the radio who have a certain tone of voice that makes it sound as though they are explaining stuff to rather dim five year olds. It’s a rather soppy, sing-song intonation which I think even five year olds would find condescending. It drives me crazy. Another one of those things.

Yesterday at the market I got into conversation with the man who has the shoes and slippers stall. He has a side-line in secondhand books, books he sells for £1 apiece. So I checked if he will to be there next week so that I can load my bike panniers with books we never plan to read again and can offload them on him. Yes, he’ll be there, he told me, he’s had his holiday already, been to Spain. So we had a chat about where he goes in Spain - mostly around Malaga - and he went on to tell me he’s been learning Spanish for 25 years and can get by all right. In fact, he thinks he could could give lessons but he’s not sure where to start - maybe with “ser” and “estar”, the two verbs “to be”, he suggested. Hmmm! i think back to my days of teaching adult classes and coming across people who had begun their Spanish learning that way. They could sing out rules for the uses of the two verbs but had difficulty telling me what their name was or where they lived. Grammar is good but it’s not the be all and end all of language learning!

Life goes on. Stay safe and well, everyone! 

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