S y d n e y T r a d s

Weblog of the Sydney Traditionalist Forum

Elegant English: How to Communicate like a Gentleman or a Lady

Whenever I have lamented the poor use of English grammar, lexicon or semantics in the present age, people have told me that I was over-reacting, and that English, like all other languages, evolves, so I just had to accept that. At first, I just seethed inside, as if that facile explanation justified any vulgarity and barbarism that passed from the mouths of young people today. Then I realised something: in saying that language “evolved”, they were unconsciously using a metaphor- a metaphor which compared language with living organisms. And then this metaphor led me (to use another metaphor) to an interesting development which would justify my point of view: if language evolves without preservation or conservation of any kind, it will decay and decompose. If a food product containing bacteria is left out of a refrigerator for more than an hour, it will “evolve”, certainly, but not in a pleasant way. Likewise, language without the preservatives of grammar and sound syntax and semantics will certainly decay, and the evidence of this is all around us. Anyone who does not believe me need only peruse two or three pages of the Internet, (especially social media), turn on the television for ten minutes, or ride a bus or train after school hours.

If, as I do, your soul languishes over the lamentable lacerations to the lexicon, or if your heart grieves over the grave gashes to grammar, or if the politically correct pollutions pain you, then you have come to the right place. In this article, I intend to indicate to you how you can render your English more poetic and polished, mellifluous and marvellous.

I take as my model the style and graceful lines of eighteenth and nineteenth century literature. As this literature was inspired by the literature preceding it, as well as the words of the Bible and Shakespeare, all the glories of Western civilisation can be found in it. This literature does not only include poetry and the florid prose of romantic novels, but also documents and journal entries and all manner of writing. In the nineteenth century and prior to that, people seemed to speak and write because they enjoyed using language, and they were in no hurry to finish their sentences, nor did they consider long sentences and literary or Biblical references to be too much trouble. All this I have observed after reading the countless works of fiction and non-fiction of great writers and ordinary people who communicated before the mid-twentieth century.

In the 18th century, Jonathon Swift proposed a language academy for English, akin to that of France, Italy and Spain, for the “refinement” of the English tongue. He too was grieved at the way in which the language was being degraded in his era, because there was no organisation to preserve it and to check its natural evolution towards barbarism. This is what I explained in the first paragraph, taking Swift as my inspiration.

I do not pretend to be an authority on the best English, or even competent enough to speak the best English: but one thing I do, and that is to continue to communicate in the style of the great men and women of yesteryear, taking inspiration from their works, and from the Work that inspired them all, namely the King James Bible.

So here, without any further ado, is my brief proposal for the refinement of the English tongue in the twenty-first century. If we cannot go back in time to the nineteenth or eighteenth century, then we can certainly bring the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries to our time.

The Snake-pit of Slang

Let me start by clarifying an important distinction: slang is not colloquial or idiomatic expression. The latter is lively, metaphorical, friendly and pleasant, and adds salt and spice to conversation. Colloquial language is the standard language “at ease”; it is the standard language as it has come home from work (formal register), taken off its tie and dressed in more comfortable clothes at home. There is nothing at all wrong with that, as long as it remains in its correct domain. There is a time and a place for formal language and a time and a place for colloquial language, in the same way that one would never dress in casual clothes to attend a wedding, or dress in a wedding suit to go to a family picnic in the park.

Slang on the other hand, does not fit anywhere. It is a vulgar form of speech, unwelcome everywhere. It is like language going around half-naked on purpose, not for the sake of comfort or affability, but for the purpose to shock or to display one’s laziness indifferently and inconsiderately. Slang is never pleasant, especially taboo slang – the words that refer to private body parts or functions, or blasphemy.

A gentleman or a lady must therefore avoid slang –words and expressions that draw attention to private body parts and bodily functions and which offend the dignity of human beings, and those that are blasphemous, which offend the dignity of God and of spiritual entities.

Here are some of the slang words and expressions to avoid (obvious taboo and blasphemous words are not included here):

Kid

The primary meaning of this word is “young goat”, so when it is used to mean “child”, it is slang and should be avoided. It clearly offends against the dignity of human persons when they are compared to the young of a barnyard animal. Sadly, in Australia and America, this meaning of “kid” is so prevalent these days that it is making the standard word, “child” appear almost obsolete.

Gay

This word is now slang because its primary meaning, i.e. “cheerful and merry”, has now been practically ousted and replaced by its politically correct sexual meaning. In other words, until about the 1970s within living memory, the primary meaning was still in use, side by side with its slang meaning of “homosexual”. Proof of this was that dictionaries printed in that period still had the meaning of “merry” as number 1, and the meaning of “homosexual” came later, with the label “slang”. Songs, commercials and films still used the primary meaning. Then suddenly, it disappeared, sometime in the 1990s. I believe that the semantic shift was artificial, politically motivated and deliberate. It is up to the gentlemen and ladies of tomorrow to ransom this word and reclaim its pristine meaning.

Sleep with

As Jerry Seinfeld once said, “Sleep is separate from that and I don’t know why sleep got all tied up and connected with that!”  (Seinfeld: Season 2, Episode 9). By “that” he was referring to the sexual act. “To sleep with someone” is such a stupid and useless slang expression for sexual intercourse, and it should be avoided completely. It offends against human dignity to refer to private or intimate acts. And as Jerry Seinfeld implied, if the act is performed properly anyway, sleeping is not really involved!

Mate/Buddy/Pal

These words are not bad in themselves, and at face level can be classed as colloquial. They become slang when they offend against human dignity by using them as egalitarian forms of address with strangers, public servants or people of higher social rank who deserve more respect. It is extremely irritating when complete strangers, some of them younger than I, accost me in the street with this title. Firstly, I am not their friend, secondly, the initial encounter requires a bit of social distance and respect until intimacy is achieved. “Mate” (or its equivalents) offend by equalising everyone and ignoring social status and the situation.

Another habit that gentlemen and ladies avoid is the obsession with truncating familiar words either to appear more friendly or down-to-earth, or just out of sheer laziness. Australians are especially prone to this habit, but the Americans and even the English do it at times. Examples are plentiful and include: Aussie (Australian), brekkie (breakfast), Chrissie (Christmas), arvo (afternoon), bike (bicycle), pressie (present), barbie (barbecue), beaut (beautiful), rego (registration), compo (compensation), TV (television), cell phone (cellular telephone), fridge (refrigerator) and the list goes on.

The Pit-falls of Pronouns (and the Pollutions of the Politically Correct)

Pronouns must be used correctly if one is to speak elegantly. Naturally, non-standard uses of pronouns are to be eliminated completely, e.g. I like them apples. Me and my friends went to the park. I am friends with him (which should be “I am his friend”- I cannot be more than one friend).

There are three major issues with the modern abuse of pronouns that I should like to address here:

Who/whom

I know that using “whom” in casual conversation sounds stuffy and artificial, but why should it? It is more accurate and less confusing than “who” which also serves as the subject relative pronoun. “That is the man whom I saw” makes the syntactical relationships clearer, in my opinion. Omitting the object relative pronoun altogether (i.e. “That is the man I saw”) is imprecise, lazy and clumsy, in my opinion. Likewise, when the pronoun is omitted and a preposition is cast at the end of the clause, it is far less elegant. “This is the person I was talking to” sounds less elegant than “This is the person to whom I was talking”. I leave it up to the reader to decide what is comfortable for him.

He/she, the generic use of the masculine

Until recently (the 1960s and 1970s), it was normal and acceptable in English, as in other European, Semitic, African and other languages, to use the masculine gender generically, i.e. when referring to indeterminate persons, or those whose sex is for some reason unknown. For example, we would say, “Everyone brought his book”, or “I am looking for someone who knows his multiplication tables well” or “The child should do it by himself”. Naturally, of course, we would use the feminine as the generic gender if all the people in a certain group were female. But because of feminism, some people started to object to this very convenient usage and imposed on us “inclusive language”, which included the substitution of the generic masculine with unwieldy and ugly paraphrases because they felt that women and girls were somehow excluded. So now we have to use “s/he” or “his or her” or even “they” (e.g. “Everyone brought their book”, “Every child should do it by hemself/themselves”).

Using “they” for a singular antecedent is just plain wrong, and should not be justified because of a misguided political correctness. I have actually seen a spate of lazy and ignorant misuses of generic “they” when the biological context was absolutely clear: “Every girl for themselves”, “A gentleman should have their own handkerchief”, “A mother should breastfeed their baby for a least a year.” The most brazen attack on this traditional generic use of the masculine was the use of the feminine as generic, e.g. “Every teacher should be patient with her students”. “If someone needs a hand, help her”. I suspect that this is just a spiteful or vengeful reaction to the age-old, traditional usage. Honestly, the generic masculine does not exclude women at all. If anything, it makes the masculine common or general, so as a result, the feminine is special and unique. And what is wrong with being special and unique, distinct from the common crowd?

Youse

The reason for this ugly slang pronoun is obvious: since the disappearance of the thou/you distinction in English around the seventeenth century, there has been a gap in the pronominal system. How do we distinguish between singular and plural you, as they do in many other Romance and Semitic languages? Out of all the attempts in English at bridging the gap, “y’all” or “you all” in the American south is the least repulsive. “You guys” is colloquial and common in America, but can never hope to be a standard pronoun. Either we rely on “you” alone, depending on the context to make the distinction clear, or we should return to using “thou”, but youse is just too revolting.

The Fitting Use of the Future

I refer the reader to Fowler’s Modern English Usage and The King’s English for a more detailed analysis of the usage of shall and will to express the future tense. In a nutshell, the normal or default future tense is conjugated thus: I shall, you will, he/she/it will, we shall, they will. “Shall” is used in the first person singular and plural because something will happen independent of the speaker’s (or speakers’) will. We say “I will” or “We will” when we intend or will something. We say “you shall”, “he/she/it shall” or “they shall” when we promise that it will definitely happen, or emphasise that we desire that it happen. When we ask a question such as “Shall I do it?” or “Shall we dance”, we are asking if it will happen independent of our will. It makes no sense to ask “Will I…?” because a person should know if he wills it or not.

This useful distinction is not observed in American, Irish or Scottish English, and is dying out even in England and Australia, where it is still used by some of the more conservative, formal or elderly speakers.

The Traps of Technology

We live in a very different world from that in which our ancestors lived, and we have so many devices and machines that they could not even imagine. This is a positive thing, and by these very modern tools, we can research more into the lives of people in history.

The problem is not in the technological advances themselves, but in the manner in which we utilise them. If we depend upon them for everything and turn our brains off when we turn on the computer, then we cannot hope to learn anything or communicate in an intelligent or elegant way.

Let me give you some examples: the language of electronic mail and text messages has degenerated to a point where simple notes between friends have become almost incomprehensible to outsiders. “C U L8R”, “BRB”, “WOTCHA DOIN?” “WHERE U @?”, “R U OK?” “LOL” etc. have become common ways of communicating among young people today. Anyone raised to appreciate Shakespeare, the King James Bible and the great poets and writers of the past would despair in seeing this gibberish that passes for English. The sad thing is that some people do not limit themselves to electronic media, and write this way all the time. Other shortcuts exist in the spoken language, such as “I will text you”, “I will message you”, or “I’ll SMS you.” Blends such as “blog” (from “weblog”) have been invented, and i have to say, it sounds like a combination of “blob” and “bog”; “Blogging” sounds like a person labouring with a serious intestinal problem.

Accidents of accent

In this section, I do not mean to discriminate against or favour any particular accent. Everyone has an accent, as a result of being raised and educated in a certain social environment, in a certain family background, or as a result of extensive travels or even as an act of will. An accent is a mark of linguistic and cultural identity and is to be respected.

However, having said that, there are certain “accidents of accent”, errors or habits which can be irritating to others because they breach certain lexical or grammatical rules, whether by intention or otherwise. These should be avoided if one hopes to speak elegant English, no matter what one’s native accent may be. I shall outline a couple of them here.

The first of these is the intrusive R. What do I mean by this? Well, some dialects of English are rhotic (General American, Canadian, Irish, Scottish) in that the sound /r/ is pronounced everywhere it occurs in the spelling, e.g. car /kar/, heart /hart/, teacher /ti:tʃǝr/ etc. Those who speak these dialects do not usually experience this problem. But other dialects are non-rhotic (Received Pronunciation or “British English” as it is commonly called, Australian, New Zealand, South African, American of the South and the Eastern Seaboard and others). In these dialects, /r/ is not pronounced after vowels (e.g. car /ka:/, heart /ha:t/, teacher /ti:tʃǝ/ except when it is followed by another vowel, as in car_accident, fire engine, further_on etc. Intrusive R is that peculiar phenomenon in non-rhotic dialects when such a “linking R” is pronounced even when there is no R in the spelling, e.g. “law-r-and order”, “the idea-r-of it” and even word internally as in “draw-r-ing”. This intrusive R is painful to the ears of those who cherish the correct spelling and grammar of the language and should be avoided at all costs.

The second accident of accent is a similar phenomenon to the preceding one: in non-rhotic accents, some vowels at the end of words spelled with –er, -or, -ar tend to be pronounced as /a/ rather than the weak central vowel /ǝ/. This results in some grotesque pronunciations, which are facetiously or ignorantly spelled with an A: “supa”, “betta”, “Supacenta” “kindagarten”, “gangsta” etc.

The third issue is not really an “accident” at all, because the speaker sometimes wilfully assumes an accent from a lower social class, with little or no social prestige, in order to identify, for psychological or political reasons, with a socially under-privileged group. As a result, one can hear men and women who were educated in English universities, and who have reached high professional positions, speak like uneducated tradesmen and labourers. Several Australian Labor Party politicians and prime ministers are good examples of this phenomenon, especially Robert (“Bob”) Hawke and Julia Gillard, although these are not the only people who do so.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with having the accent of a tradesman or labourer if one is a tradesman or a labourer; but there is something perverse about denying one’s educational or social level and distorting all of one’s vowels in order to prove a socio-political point, just as much as someone who tries in ignorance to assume the accent and grammatical competence of a higher educational level without extensive study and practice before attempting it. The latter end up sounding as ridiculous and as pretentious as the former sound dishonest and suspicious.

In conclusion, if we do our best to avoid slang, any words or phrases of a vulgar nature which offend against the dignity of humans or God, and if we endeavour never to be lazy and take shortcuts, but instead enjoy our speech, we shall be well on our way to speaking like gentlemen or ladies.

- Emile N Joseph

The author teaches the English language to adult migrants and is passionate about all things linguistic. He is also a serious conservative at heart, who treasures the beauty, the poetry and the gallantry of yesteryear. He is happily married with two young children in Sydney.

Selected Sources

  • Francis George Fowler and Henry Watson Fowler, The King’s English (Oxford University Press, 1906)
  • Henry Watson Fowler, Fowler’s Modern English Usage (Oxford University Press, 1926)
  • Simon Heffer,  Strictly English (Cornerstone, 2010)
  • Jerry Seinfeld in the television broadcast, “Seinfeld”, Season 2, Episode 9 (United States National Broadcasting Corporation, 1991)
SydneyTrads is the internet portal and communication page of the Sydney Traditionalist Forum, an association of individuals who form part of the Australian paleoconservative, “traditionalist conservative” and “independent right”.

emile joseph book advert banner

Update: The banner advertisement for Emile Joseph’s book A Love That Spans the Ages was inserted at the end of this post on 3 May 2014.

9 comments on “Elegant English: How to Communicate like a Gentleman or a Lady

  1. Leon
    22 December 2013

    Dear Mr. Joseph,

    Thank you for the compliment. You should know however, that I do not at all speak the way I write, having learned to separate the two in school. I don’t know exactly what sort of Canadian accent you have heard through the media, or through your Nova Scotian friends, but I imagine that if you heard my variety of the Ottawa Valley Twang, you would cringe after the first ‘r’ sound to come out of my mouth. Even at home, folks from southern Ontario would often call me out on my ‘ar’s, because apparently to them, they sounded strange. I have since modified my speech to sound more cultivated, but I still tend to let the odd raised vowel slip out of my mouth in casual contexts. And casual contexts encompass a much wider variety of settings here in Canada than in most places. If Australians pride themselves on their informality and irreverence, among Canadians, ‘hoser talk’ is almost like a shibboleth for picking out ‘real’ Canadians among the fakes (‘posers’). Even myself, working at the post office, am known to let out the occasional ‘buddy’ and ‘eh’ to customers that I get along with, I find this tends to make people more comfortable, rather than offended. Maybe it all depends on what sort of culture you have grown up in, I personally enjoy the fact that Canadians can often recognize each other by way of their informal, and uniquely ‘Canadian’ way of talking. I like also the fact that we as Canadians have managed to take universally recognized vulgarities, and use them in a distinctly Canadian way (ex. ‘holy f**** guy!’) I would never want Canadians to start using the Received Pronunciation to sound more educated, not because I dislike it, but because it isn’t Canadian (eh?). I believe that if I was an Australian I would feel the same way. I did in fact listen to a bit of Gillard’s speech, and I rather enjoyed it (the accent that is), although admittedly I did not get to the part with the screeching. I have always liked the Australian accent, personally. To me, it is a more musical, less vulgar-sounding version of Cockney, which I admittedly can’t stand, and yet I’ve always liked the way Aussie talk sounded. It has been great fun writing you sir, have a very merry Christmas, eh?

    • Emile Joseph
      23 December 2013

      Dear Leon,

      I suppose that opinions about accents will always be subjective, and there is no accounting for taste. I personally like the Canadian accent, especially because of the R sound (post-vocalic R in linguistic terms). I have always felt that the R sound was missing in the dialect of Australia, and even Received Pronunciation is wanting in this regard. If you think that the Broad Australian accent is pleasant and musical, that is your opinion, which I respect, although I cannot share it. I personally dislike it. When it comes to accents, my favourites are Irish and Scottish, followed by Canadian and American.

      Have a merry Christmas, and thank you for taking the time to respond to my article and to correspond with me.

      Yours truly,
      Emile Joseph

  2. Emile Joseph
    11 December 2013

    Dear Leon,

    I understand your grievance and I apologise if my essay has annoyed you. I made it clear from the outset that I was aiming for elegance and excellence in English, not merely effective communication. After all, we often do not need words at all to communicate effectively, a few grunts, moans and clear body language will suffice. But that is hardly elegance is it?

    I cannot and will not suppress everyone’s individual right to express himself in his unique way; if he chooses to employ slang and coarse language because it is part of his personal style, he is free to do so. But then he cannot turn around and say that his speech is excellent or pleasing to the average interlocutor. He must bear responsibility for his personal choice and accept that many in society will label his speech unpleasant. That is reality.

    My essay is intended to give friendly advice to those who aspire to improve their speech, and I take earlier styles of English as my model. That is my prerogative. Am I not free to prefer the dulcet melodies of Victorian speech to the often harsh and coarse modern parlance of our era? I am not alone in this. Go to the Internet, that modern portal to the world of yesterday, today and tomorrow, and you will see people who would embrace my point of view and those who would flatly reject it.

    I am aware that as a Canadian, you are faced daily with the language question because of linguistic competition with French. I respect the Canadian dialect a lot, and I consider it to be a very pleasant one, a harmonious mix of British and American. I live in Australia, and I hear around me a far more cacophonous, discordant dialect, as more and more young people take pride in speaking either like rough, uneducated, vulgar models of Australian stock, or like ethnic gangsters of New York, with all the foul language to go with it. Can you see why I yearn for something more pleasant?

    If you look carefully, I have not mentioned the split infinitive at all, because it is not such an awful error in my opinion. And if people end their sentences with a preposition in casual speech, I shall not bristle with rage. I am not that much of a pedant. How can I be, I teach migrants for a living, and their English is by nature imperfect. But they are willing to learn. It is they who tell me that the people around them speak incorrect or bad English, because they have a more acute sensitivity to the English that people are supposed to speak.

    I hope that I have answered your criticism satisfactorily.

    Cordially yours,
    Emile Joseph

    • Leon
      14 December 2013

      Dear Mister Joseph,

      Thank you for your quick reply. Of course you are allowed to enjoy whatever form of English you please. My objection was to your suggestion that a language academy be instituted for the English language, as this would only serve to weaken the many unique varieties of English that have risen historically across Britain and the Anglosphere. In the past, such academies were used as political tools, serving to establish an elite form of speech in contrast that of the common people, as well as to attack or destroy regional and national identities. I cannot fathom why you, as an Australian, would disdain the irregularities that make the Australian dialect unique. Making everyone speak the same is a form of cultural hegemony which I believe is at odds with the traditionalist mindset. Are we not proud to be Canadians, Australians or Britons? Why then, should we be ashamed to speak as such? I noticed also that while you stated that the split infinitives, as well as placing prepositions at the ends of sentences, are not egregious errors, you still consider these to be errors, despite the origins of those rules. That just serves to illustrate how arbitrary and useless prescriptive grammars are. I can understand that you don’t want English to devolve into some kind of ebonics-like babble, but considering the changing demographics, that is, the cultural and ethnic origins, of English speakers, I’d say you have already lost that battle. I’m sure that for every foreigner that learns English at a proper language school like yours, dozens more learn to speak the language from the many ethnic communities that have sprouted in all parts of the English-speaking world, bringing more and more of their derived slang into common use. Therefore, if you really want to preserve the old language, your last choice would be to try to standardize English. A linguistic academy established in the modern Anglo world would subsequently begin to standardize a large number of foreign-derived vulgarities as these become more and more common in everyday parlance. The more prudent choice, in my opinion, would be to let the decision on how to use language remain up to the individual, and the society that surrounds him.

      Sincerely,
      Leon

      • Emile Joseph
        18 December 2013

        Dear Leon,

        If everyone spoke or wrote like you, I would not need to write such an article! Honestly, your expression is excellent and you do write like a gentleman.

        As for the Australian dialect, have you heard it? You probably know it from films and the Internet, but that is not the whole picture. I have lived here for forty years, I have done extensive study on all the dialects of English, and I have always read or heard that Australians pride themselves on their informality and irreverence. You can imagine how much that irritates me! This is a generalisation, perhaps, but it is quite pervasive. There are three levels of Australian English: cultivated, standard and broad. The Cultivated variety resembles Received Pronunciation, and is quite elegant and respectable, but it is gradually falling out of favour with the general population. General Australian is pleasant at best, and tolerable at worst. I am more sorely vexed by the Broad variety, because all the vowels are distorted and the general acoustic effect is that of crows cawing (you have to hear it to believe it). Added to this is the proliferation of vulgarity, obscenities and substandard slang and poor grammar. If you have ever heard one of our former prime ministers speak, you would know what I mean. Listen to Julia Gillard’s rant against Tony Abbott (the Opposition leader at the time) about his alleged misogyny (you can find it on YouTube). She is positively screeching. Paul Keating, another former prime minister, is another example of this kind of dialect.

        I have only heard Canadian English in the media and from two former friends of mine from Nova Scotia, and I have always had the most profound respect for that dialect.

        As for Academies, I have always had a romantic view of them, based on my acquaintance with the French and Italian versions. I have always seen them as a committee acting as a reference for the standard. French and Italian (and Spanish) have academies until now, but they also have many flourishing dialects and accents. You should know this, because of the Quebecan dialect of French. Spanish is now the third world language, and it has different dialects and accents all over Spain, Central America and Latin America. They might have intended to suppress non-standard dialects, but they did not. I see them as authorities recommending a standard, but not oppressing anyone.

  3. Leon
    9 December 2013

    I have to say, although I’m usually in favour of cultural preservation, I find linguistic purism to be exceedingly stupid. There is no right way to speak, as long as normal people, the ones you interact with (or should that be ‘the ones with whom you interact’?), can understand you. As stated earlier, all languages evolved this way, the English you cherish would not even exist had the Anglo-Saxons started their own linguistic academy. And Shakespeare? The man was famous for his distortion of the contemporary language, making up completely new words and styles as it suited him. The sort of linguistic purism that you support has only put in danger many of the unique and wonderful dialects and languages of Europe, and the rest of the world. The academies in France and Italy for example, contemptuously mislabeled the various dialects and languages of their respective countries as vulgar bastard languages filled with country ‘slang’. Many of these dialects and languages were in fact older and more conservative (in respect to Latin) than either French or Italian. Here in Canada we would almost never refer to our offspring as ‘children’ outside of a formal context. So what if ‘kid’ used to mean exclusively ‘young goat’? Many words in English, even your King James Bible version, no longer mean what they did in Old English, and I’m willing to bet that even you don’t know the etymology of a lot of words that you use. Prescriptive grammars have only ever served one purpose: to make the upper class feel superior about the way they speak. A lot of the rules, as a result, are just made up nonsense, like the rule that you can’t split an infinitive, or end a sentence with a preposition, because you can’t do that in Latin. So what? English is not Latin. We speak the way we do because it serves us in our environment. If you want change the language, you have to change the environment of the speakers, not tell them they can’t speak in a way that feels natural to them. I’ll agree with you on two points: the he/she/they paradigm is needlessly confusing, and all the abbreviations and misspellings used in online communication just makes things difficult to read. By the way, y’all is used all over North America, not just the American South.

  4. Emile Joseph
    12 July 2013

    Dear Novo,

    I was writing about native speakers of English who show off and pretentiously assume to be superior to their peers (for example Mr. Collins from Pride and Prejudice and many other characters from Austen and Dickens). I am also talking about people from a higher social class who try to pretend solidarity with lower classes by talking like them (see my “All Things Being Equal – The Madness of Egalitarianism in Australia”, 2 February 2013).

    Your case is very different, and I commend you highly. May I ask what your origin is? I am an English teacher for adult migrants and I firmly believe that migrants often speak better English than people who were born here (in Australia). You will never sound ridiculous because you are making a tremendous effort to learn a second language. You are in no way like native speakers who attempt to impress with contrived or artificially acquired accents.

    Keep up the good work.

    Regards,
    Emile

  5. Novo
    12 July 2013

    Dear Mr. Joseph,

    My quest for learning proper English lead me to this web page. I have enjoyed reading it and learning a few things.

    However, on the next to last paragraph you mentioned how wrong it is to assume the grammatical competence of a higher educational level without extensive study and practice.

    I believe that reading and studying is not enough to master a language. One must also practice at every opportunity one can get, thus developing good habits that will substitute the bad ones.

    My native language is not English and only through continuous practice was I able to achieve fluidity. At the beginning my English was so bad that people made fun of me. Now they find me interesting, for I can communicate clearly and with an accent. My point being that one must forget about how ridiculous one might sound at the beginning by trying to sound proper. As long as one is not trying to pretend belonging to a different social status. Practice and habits make us who we are.

    Thank you for the web post. I shall continue with my studies now.

    Best regards,
    Novo

  6. Pingback: Elegant English: How to Communicate like a Gentleman or a Lady « Nomad Forgotten

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

STF Promotion:

Cory Bernardi, "The Conservative Revolution"

Cory Bernardi, "The Conservative Revolution" (Connor Court, 2013)

STF Promotion

The World is Burning (Oak & Arrow, 2013)

The World is Burning (Oak & Arrow, 2013)

STF Promotion

Emile Joseph, "A Love that Spans the Ages" (2014)

The “Think Different” Campaign 2013-14

"Traditionalism is the most revolutionary ideology of our times" - Julius Evola

Coming to a campus near you, also backed by the Sydney Traditionalists.

Supporters & Friends

Radio "Carpe Diem" Monday 8:00pm to 10:00pm EST (Sydney)

Traditionalist reflections by Mark Richardson (Melbourne, Victoria)

Conservative News, Opinion and Commentary (Melbourne, Victoria)

Traditionalist reflections by Mark Moncrieff (Melbourne, Victoria)

Traditionalist Commentary and Analysis (US and UK)

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 102 other followers

%d bloggers like this: