THE PEF ACADÉMIE VON ANGLAIS


by THE WEB-MISTER

Good evening and welcome to our magnificent and well-thought-through new Academy stunt.    Our other articles are written anonymously either by experts or non-experts (one need not be an expert to write about language – after all, it’s common sense, isn’t it?), but upon this page it is I, the Web-Mister, who answers your Frequent Questions, or “FF.qq.”.   This is the correct way of typing “FAQ”, the offensive and obselete internet slang used by millions; I ask those people, what else is one supposed to do with a question if he does not Ask it?    Frequently eat it?   The “A”, therefore, is undesirable.    Actually, the questions haven’t been very frequent either.     You lazy people must send more.

WHAT’S THIS?
Good question!   This is a web-site all about the English language, which, unfortunately, has proved to be an invertebrate and also is on the verge of extinction.    I am sure you will have noticed that nobody speaks proper English any more; arguably it is English, but not proper English, the kind they had in the war.     If we were at war today – which, thank goodness, we aren’t – I imagine we would lose due to the poor use of English in our ranks: soldiers misunderstanding the exclamation “Fire!” out of context, bomb-shelter-building instructions written in Australian, the Prime Minister announcing “We are going to fight them on the beaches”, and other such anarchy.    Does he mean we intend to fight or that we are actually heading to the beach right this instant?
We shall, therefore, construct a backbone for English in order to prevent folly from occurring.     Like Dr Frankenstein before us, we shall help the corpse of English to mutate into a much better language than presently.

WHY THE NAME?
Ah yes, “Académie von anglais”.    A blend of French and German, the two languages that begat English more than 1,000 years ago.    Normally we would have used a good, clear English word, as our language is so beautiful and pure most of the time, but in the past seven years she has suffered to such an extent that she is no longer fit for purpose for the purpose of the naming of an academy!
This shows how dire the situation is: if a sensible, level-headed group of English-speakers choose Modern French and German (languages that do have academies or at least strong spinal columns), INSTEAD of using English or Old French or a language that was actually spoken in Britain at some point, then the situation here must almost be beyond repair!

WHAT YOU DO?
Before we actually decide what the academy will do, the important thing is that we first attain the power that we rightly deserve.   We have spent years correcting the English of others without ever being recognised as the legal authority over that which comes out of people’s mouths (words), which has made us a little bitter, but you in the Government – if he is reading this – can make good this injustice by giving us Power.    If this does not happen soon we shall threaten to go on strike and boycott the English language; see how you survive without us!    But with your appeasement it will not come to this.

Our Foundation will be a Government-sponsored quango; this is a fashionable Spanish word meaning “an organisation that doesn’t cost you a penny because the Government pays for it”.    With our new-found power, we will at first be ignored by the mass of the population – the ignorant mass, naturally, whose English is too bad to even bother talking to them.     This will prove that our language Academy is something the country really needs, so we shall then raise the stakes by requesting extra emergency powers to impose our will upon those upon whom our will needs to be imposèd.
We shall politicise the Oxford English Dictionary by insisting that all new words be approved by us: unlike them, we realise that a word can only justifiably qualify for entry to the dictionary if important people (we) use it.   Words used only by minority groups like gays, wimyn, or the PEF are superfluous.
Naturally we shall improve the school curriculum, by making Robert Lowth’s 1762 tome required reading for all youngsters, and by replacing “harmful” modern books with better books from long ago when people had morals.     We shall insist that newsagents stock the latest issues of The Eagle and Battle Picture Weekly; if any of this be not achieved, we will not rule out military action against no-sayers – in fact some kind of PEF tank division would be a great boost to us! –.

HOW OLD?
We are old; very old indeed.     While it took the Queen’s English Society until 1972 to realise that everybody else’s English was going downhill, we can trace our heritage back to 1837.   In this year, the language attained the highest trough of excellence, and any deviation from The English of that era is an abominable abuse of the language of Her Majesty, Queen Victoria and must be flogged.    The decline of standards in English caused our empire to crumble, and was also to blame for both world wars, incidentally.
So being formed in 1972 is, sad to say, inadequate.

WHY QUESTIONS SHORT?
Technology has, in an unfortunate way, scuppered our attempts to write clearly and concisely, or rather forced us to be too concise:  the questions on this page are restricted to being 3 words long due to a technical omission!    Which almost makes us look like badly-spoken idiots with no attention span!
A most unlucky outcome, but unavoidable, given the limitations of technology, which has evidently been evolving being created too fast and without forethought or restrictions.    How, for example, can a mobile telephone also access the inter-net?   If this question be not answered, we shall ask the Government for the power to confiscate iPhones, Tamagotchis and other maldesigned distractions, which shall not be returned to their owners until after our reforms are complete.

A DESCRIPTIVE OR PRESCRIPTIVE APPROACH?
Our approach to language goes one better than either of those: we are proscriptive!   This means that we enjoy proscribing, telling people what not to say, rather than educating them about useful words or phrases, which would be the weak approach.
We proscriptivists realise that languages do not evolve by themselves.   Before the invention of writing and of books, the human race was in a bad condition, using cave-man language until 1500.    Man was on the road to cannibalism and anarchy.   But, when groups of linguists formed language academies, this fate was avoided and the improvements in quality of life were self-generating!   Now we have modern technology and many diseases which we have cured.
But there are some people who do not want a language academy: they are called descriptivists and they want English to go back to the bad old cannibal days, where people were free to say anything without being properly badgered by pendants about the mortal dangers of to split the infinitive, and free to say, “this one”, or even “these ones”, without punishment!!    Language was formed by social convention and consensus, and evolved accordingly.    This is of course both dangerous and irresponsible.   There must be an Academy to judge and sit on offenders who misuse words, otherwise our entire language should descend into nonsense!
However, we strive to go about this with a positive attitude.

FREEZE THE LANGUAGE?
No, we don’t want to stop new words from being invented.   We shall even say it categorically, we do not want to freeze the language.   We simply feel that the language is currently far too warm and needs to be cooled or even frozen to save it from anarchy.   Thank you.

IN IT JUST FOR THE MONEY?
What?!   Of course we aren’t.    Some people see how little we know about linguistics, and how foolish we make ourselves look on every page of our web-site, and then they JUMP to the conclusion that we must have some ulterior motive.    In a sad way, they are mistaken!    We genuinely do hate minor stylistic trends in language that much, and we have nothing to gain from this endeavour.
Incidentally, if you want to get even more pedantic PEF pernickitiness for posterity, you may join our organisation for the low price of A Wad Of Cash.    Salvation comes relatively cheaply these days.    Also, when you’re on Amazon, buy Dr Bernard Lamb’s book, How to Grasp The Queen’s Tongue, and type the Discount Code PEF-GET-CASH, and, through the wonders of technology, we’ll receive 50 pence from every order!   Fab, eh?

WHAT POLITICAL VIEWS?
We are naturally impartial, and deplore all political views that are at odds with our own, particularly leftie wets (that is, anybody to the left of us), and to a lesser extent, those to the right of us, of whom there are fewer for some reason.    We may agree with one Government policy or another, especially those that favour preserving things as they are, or as they were in 1940, the best year.   Our policy, however, is to lobby whichever Government is in Power and tell them they’re not going far enough, and we do not favour any political movement above any other, as does not the Queen’s English Society.    So, when we (or, more precisely, they) make up this example sentence:
“She is our ‘Margaret Thatcher’. [The strong lady of our group.]” [1],
this is not an attempt to present their political opinions as fact – after all, it was the country that voted for Mrs Thatcher, so her strength is a fact, and therefore highly suitable for a nice apolitical sentence showing real everyday English usage in my house.   And she was a womyn, too: our only prime ministress.   And probably the last!    If anything, the QES’s sentence should read, “She is Margaret Thatcher. [The only strong lady in England.]”. They might want to correct it.

So it is evident that the QES do not take positions on political (or moral) issues; their neutrality is out of the question.    But what about us?   We take the position that anybody who disagrees with us is simply an attention-seeker and bound to be wrong.    After all, if we believe something, it must be true.     We are an large organisation, with a well-planned group structure and backbone, and we’re very close to turning a profit now, and because of this it would be unthinkable for us to admit error or change our views.

WHY GOOGLE CACHE?
Because the QES deleted most of their web pages, we often link to archived versions; in future these will also slip into oblivion as surely as the word “gay”.  If only there were some kind of permanent internet archive, we could eventually preserve the QES’s wisdom forever – but it is not to be.




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