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Comment: Re:There might not be Proper English (Score 1) 667

by Andy_R (#49267005) Attached to: Why There Is No Such Thing as 'Proper English'

While English in the British Isles used to have mutually incomprehensible dialects, the influence of received pronunciation has drastically lessened this, so I'd argue that it is coalescing.

Most people I know who have strong regional accents have the ability to switch to a neutral accent and cut out dialect words when they are in formal situations - an ability my father's generation learned from radio, my generation learned from radio and television, and my children's generation will learn from radio, television and internet. If you ask a Hebridean Scot to give a transcript of two Cockneys talking in a pub, or vice versa, they will struggle, but if you arrange a conversation between a Hebridean Scot and a Cockney they will simply both 'talk like the people on the telly' and understand each other perfectly well.

English was able to fragment because in the past, you rarely had to communicate with people from far away (which is how we ended up with prominent Americans who can't even say their own names properly... yes, Jay-ZED, I'm looking at you!) The internet changes all this, we now have regular interactions with people worldwide, so speaking or writing in a mutually incomprehensible way has penalties.

Perhaps we should consider the benefits of formalising 'correct' English, lest we be doomed to forever be re-translating Wikipedia into 'current' English?

Never underestimate the bandwidth of a station wagon full of tapes. -- Dr. Warren Jackson, Director, UTCS