Monday, 19 October 2015

BBC English

There was a time when BBC English was some kind of standard, and indeed in its laziness, imprecision, inelegance, and lack of respect for grammar and syntax I suppose it does now reflect majority speech, but it has lost all credibility as a standard towards which learners might strive.

I listen to BBC World Service news every morning that the feeble downgraded transmitters allow reception. The usual presenter has adopted the irritating mannerism of putting an ‘Uh’ or ‘Er’ between every three words, and today, among other infelicities of speech, he talked of ‘A wall of razor-wire’ on a Hungarian border. A wall? A fence, perhaps? What am I to say to my young Greek pupils, trying hard to learn English?

The person who reads the actual news summary at the beginning is usually rather better, but today he came out with the following gem:

‘They are accused of crimes in three Australian states, including theft and arson.’

The Australians usually tend to be reticent about the origins of non-native settlers, witness the person — I think it was Noel Coward — who, when asked if he had a criminal record, displeased the immigration officer by replying ‘Oh, is it still a requirement?’ I had not realized that Australian states are in fact named after crimes.

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