THE QUEEN’S ENGLISH SOCIETY


Everything that needed to be said about the QES Academy was written here. But it wasn’t enough.

The Queen’s English Society began as a small organisation for serial complainers who had realised that other people’s English was worse than theirs, if you applied a very narrow, outdated reading of The Standard Rules.    Even worse, they realised that youth slang had been changing; a great shock, given that “toodle-pip” is such an adaptable phrase whose usefulness rappers have not yet realised!

Unfortunately for the Society, it was invaded by linguistic hard-liners who, in June 2010, unveiled their English Academy to the press; the QES remained small, but had excellent media connections.   With these, the group hoped to gain public backing and a Royal Charter so that the Academy could “sit in judgement” on anybody who used the English language wrongly.    “Wrong”, in their definition, appears to mean “not actually using the voice of QES members such as Martin Estinel or Rhea Williams”, so high were their standards.   Some people criticised the plan.   Nearly everyone.

All good things must come to an end, and the Academy was closed in November 2010.  Having perhaps received threats of legal action from Buckingham Palace, the QES deleted the English Academy from their website and reduced their operation to “blathering on news magazine programmes”, a less stressful pursuit than ruling the entire language.
But they are still able to make ill-informed judgements, and who knows?   Perhaps they will be able to sneak some social, ageist, national or sexist prejudice into the conversation!   Har ha ha.   There’s no “perhaps” about it.  (Luckily for comedy fans, the Academy pages remained online elsewhere.)

The Society’s biggest mistake was that they weren’t prepared for the advent of the internet (and apparently still aren’t).    Footnotes, double-checking, image quality, and the scroll button seem to have evaded them.

But on a less (or rather, more) technical note, their knowledge of words is superb! They know hundreds of them, and justify their hatred of certain new words using a diverse range of arguments.

Logic is a surprisingly rare complaint.   Evidence is rarely one of the QES’s weapons.   They quoted the Oxford English Dictionary to try to persuade everyone to call “gender” “sex”, but didn’t on other occasions.   (They also appear to quote lots of baseless anti-feminist anti-American ranting from the OED, that hotbed of misogyny!)

Mostly they chastise Americanisms, words that might be American, and old shibboleths of “low-class” and “working-class” English. To judge the correct pronunciation of either (of which there can be only one), they invoke modern standard German, which has no bearing on English. They dislike the use of neologisms (“CEO”) instead of a good old word;  they dislike the use of old words (“marketplace”) instead of a neologism;  they dislike the only putting of one space after a full stop in a sentence that, is rather long-winded and places its commas incorrectly!      They are rather obnoxious.

It shouldn’t bother anyone that they mis-spelled “Academy” in a title.   What is quite worrying, however, is the number of words the QES know that relate to class warfare and hatred, though thankfully they never say “toff” or “posh boy” which are the most hurtful!

They claim to want to help low-class children by overhauling
Education In This Country and finally bringing it into the 1950s, but this aim sits rather inconguously with their descriptions of their critics: “the common cur”, “the yob and the guttersnipe”.[1]   One must be more subtle when waging class warfare in future!

As much as the Society want to believe that they make grammatically-sound arguments, terms like “inelegant”, “slovenly”, and “the worst of American slang” are opinions.   Many of their complaints are not about grammar but writing style, a far more subjective area.   Confusion of this type dates back at least to William Strunk’s 1918 book, The Elements of Style, Or Is It Grammar? Oh Never Mind, Just Don’t Do It.; the QES recommended Strunk for his ridiculous rules that 21st-century persons (and 19th-century writers) have consistently failed to follow, which shows just how misguided all persons other than Strunk are!  Yes, he does outlaw “people” as a plural form.

The Queen’s English Society were
debunked successfully by Stan Carey, in that Martin Estinel acknowledged in writing that some of the criticism was valid.    Mr Estinel then graciously invited Mr Carey to join the Society!   That may not have been exactly what Mr Carey had wanted, but it would be something impressive to add to his CV in any case.

Three types of f***ers!
We now know who loves English, but what breed of mongrel would try to kill it?     The QES identified the three sorts of non-humans who could possibly oppose the Academy of English (or our Académie von anglais), in an article as good as any they have written! [1][2]     They used the subtle rhetorical technique of praising our supporters (the silent majority) while comparing our enemies to animals (for this is that which they are no better than).    But they did not go far enough.    We at the PEF know in our hearts that our opponents really are animals, and have divided them into three much more precise groups!

1)    The hyenas:   “persons” who are dazzled by how good our web-site is, and start laughing uncontrollably!    This particular breed of f***er consists of self-interested linguists who are seeking only to gain power and prestige for themselves by hindering our fine and selfless PEF movement.
2)    The rodents:    those who gnaw at the subjunctive rule until it be a skeleton
3)    The whores
(Can animals be whores? Let us presume so.)

These are not insults upon the heads of our critics – in fact, it is an fair analysis of said critics – but we do not believe that any real person would find anything to criticise about this great and misunderstood project to save the English language from its own speakers.

The QES then launch a brutal condemnation of Group 2 (pedantic ferrets who search for mis-prints on the wonderful QES web-site):
“The mentality of these detractors is not unlike that of those who go to motor races, not to admire the skill of the drivers but on the off-chance they might be ‘lucky enough’ to see a crash.” [1] (later removed from website)

The author is right that his website is a bit like a car-crash.   But his comparison is unfair: after a car-crash one often finds some useful parts which can be salvaged.    Besides, the QES web-site has already proved itself to be far superior to a car-crash in most ways!     This being evident, the article continues in the same hilarious vein, an hilarity which can only have been intentional.

One deliberately self-contradicting sentence states that,
“It is absolutely false that QES considers textspeak to be a degradation of English.” [1][2]
despite the QES boldly claiming, on PAGE ONE, that
“English is becoming corrupted in the age of mass communications, the text message, e-mail and the like.”, [3]
[Presumably they meant The i-Like. It’s on the internet, so it must be evil – Ed.]
The Queen’s English Society should not be ashamed of wanting technology destroyed – in fact, after viewing their website I felt very strongly that everything electrical ought to be incinerated!    A very powerful message!     Such hidden messages and sarcasm are to be found throughout the QES’s fine writing.

In fact, the QES is now such an household name among linguists and débris enthusiasts that the Society is self-confident enough as to pretend to denounce its own existence!   [chortle]   This is of course done subtly and thoughtfully, but nonetheless wittily:
“These third-party [web-]sites [from which we took our ideas] have not been subjected to such ridicule yet it is they, not we, who have codified the rules of Good English that we support.  The QES does not make these rules; they existed and were to be found on these sites long before the Academy was created.” [1][2]
A funny piece of self-deprecation:   the QES’s response to any criticism is to distance themselves from their own views – to claim they are merely the messengers!    Actually, if we do as the QES say, and leave aside their sections on Good English With A Capital G For No Reason, their only “original” content is the section where they slag-off teachers!    And some of that is just re-printed from the Daily Mail.

(I believe that the QES are, as usual, being too modest.   Much of their web-site’s content on language seems to be both valiant and original, and not informed by any outside source!  In particular the anti-Americanismism in their justifiably angry articles, Oversights and Do not write me, I can not bear to read your shortened expressions that are widely accepted among your compatriots!)

It makes me wonder what their actual function is.   It can’t just be money: they promised me that all of their vapid merchandise was not part of some kind of profiteering attempt, and I be-lieve them.   But the above quote remains, as evidence that the QES do not really have a function other than to criticise people they dislike, using language as a cover for deeper resentment.   This is an honourable way to act, but no real organisation would knowingly claim that it is useless, as the QES have hereby done.    The above comment makes a mockery of the whole proscriptive movement, and demonstrates an effeminate lack of brash self-confidence.    I am therefore forced to conclude that the QES is some type of comedy hoax, intent on killing language!    Well, we shan’t go down without a fight!

This is why we created the Proper English Foundation: to fight a crusade (well, create a churchagainst the ridiculousness of the Queen’s English Society, and also to give people, such as you, a language resource that is informative and sensible by comparison.   Let us remember John Langer’s wise words:
“Traditionally, editorials should be grave and authoritative, but there is much serious reading between this page and page 40, so I take leave to publish two tales. One is true and one fictional but these labels could be interchangeable.”John Langer, Quest, 1995





























"The cane is back"
by PEF Web-Mister]










Hyena: enemy of reason
[PD, Dave Pape]

 

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