Know Your Enemy: A MAN ON A TRAIN


Dr Bernard Lamb was on a train one day, minding his own business and eavesdropping on a man, when he heard the aforementioned man say
“Me and him gets on great.” [1]
Aaargh!   Kill the man, Bernard!   And, if you get sent to jail, it’ll have all been worthwhile.    It is detailed research like this that best exhibits the strengths of Dr Lamb and his Queen’s English Society Which The Queen Can’t Openly Criticise.   Well-chosen examples, incisive corrections, and surprising predictability.

Lamb could have mentioned in passing that
– “me” and “him” have been commonly, commonly used as objective pronouns for “I” and “he” for at least 100 years (William Strunk proscribed them, which is the best proof one can offer of their validity)
– the Man uses great” as an adverb, something that Americans do more often than Brits as far as I know, but no English-speaker could fail to understand the meaning (except for Dr Lamb, who translates it as “well” when it should be the more intense “very well”)
– and A Man on a Train adds an “s” to a first-person plural verb (“we gets”), a southern English regional variant.

The counter-argument
Normally I would struggle to find a counter-argument by a commentator who measures up to Dr Lamb’s high standards – but, after much searching, here it is!

“The standard form of a language is the one which all people should be able to use and understand, wherever they come from, although [LIKE THE MAN ON THE TRAIN] they may prefer local variants for local communication, such as regional and ethnic [weird] versions.”
– Bernard Lamb, in the same article
(Bold words added boldly by me)

Having hinted that his article would be a hard-hitting exposé of grammatical errors the mass media make, Dr Lamb doesn’t deliver a single example of this.   This unlucky Man on a Train may have been talking into his mobile phone; perhaps Dr Lamb presumed that that meant the Man was broadcasting live on the radio.

In any case, people should be free to talk to friends in any mutually-intelligible dialect without having to worry about eavesdroppers like Dr Lamb.   For shame.

He also targets modern advertising campaigns like “Drinka Pinta Milka Day”, which ought to be shut down.   The average young person on the street doesn’t even know these 1980s ads use incorrect spelling!   How out-of-touch they are.   And why on earth does he condone the phrase
“yummy mummy”
instead of banning it?!    The president of the QES is a rather confused English-user (RCEU).    Furthermore, he has a sloppy writing style: half of his article is taken up by the headline.     He must learn to write more great.    That is all.

 

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