Once upon a time the English tongue,
Used to be like rhythmic music sung.
What has happened to this speech today?
Tortured it has been in every way.
Many ulcers has this tongue we use,
If we have no remedy we lose.
Languages of Europe have control,
Poetry and grammar play a role.
English on the other hand has let,
People speak it with no guidelines set,
Grammar, history, literature as well,
People think they should just go to hell.
Internet and mobiles dominate,
With their jargon cheap and second-rate.
Films and television take prime place,
Books seem almost fallen from the race.
No one writes a letter anymore,
Pen and paper now are ancient lore.
Electronic mail now runs the show,
Letter writing rules have had to go.
Do you say that this is progress made?
English may well be the tool of trade.
Practical, it does its task, no more,
Business is what it’s created for.
Tools, however, that are not maintained,
Cleaned and polished, tools that are disdained,
Soon become defective, blunt and old,
Sometimes they go rusty, gather mould.
Shakespeare, Milton, Dickens, Austen, Donne,
Who speaks English like them? Name me one!
Laziness, neglect and jargon maim,
All for money, easiness and fame.
If you want examples of decay,
Junk food rotting English speech away,
These inane expressions do the trick,
Fairy floss of language, you’ll be sick!
First of all, ubiquitous “OK”
Meaningless, yet what all people say.
“Get” and “got” applied to every sauce,
Lazy, overused and somewhat coarse.
“Boyfriend”, “girlfriend”, “kids” and “crap” and “ain’t”
“Teen” and words like these our language taint.
Then there’s “youse”, an ulcer through and through,
Once we were content with “thou” and “you”.
“Movies”, “job” and “hi” and “bye”, all lame,
“Sell yourself” and “sleep with someone”, same!
“Drink and drive”, repeating vain “You know”
“SMS” and “texting someone”, NO!
Then there’s spelling “judgement” without “e”
Acronyms like “Come a.s.a.p.”
“Let’s do lunch” and business talk like that,
Make our language colourless and flat.
Now it’s time to rise and make a stand,
Save our language, sinking in the sand.
If we do not act to change this fate,
One day, sadly, it may be too late.
– Emile 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.