Saturday, August 13, 2011

Grammarian gripe

During the past week I have followed the troubling events in England mainly by listening to the reports on BBC Radio 4.

I have given scant attention to the pundits pontificating about the underlying reasons for the unrest and even less to those claiming to know what must be done to eradicate the root causes for the marginalization of an entire youth underclass. The entire issue is simply too complex...

And so I shall limit my comment to just two observations...

Was it not wryly amusing to hear expressions of astonishment when it turned out that one young woman arrested was termed 'the daughter of a millionaire'. How could a child from such a background be inclined to engage in opportunistic looting? On second thoughts, if her wealthy Dad were a banker or captain of industry accustomed to obscene bonus payments or golden parachute windfalls...

But at least the young lady in question probably had learned at some point to be articulate, to use language to convey content, to communicate.

What I found so very shocking were the interviews conducted by BBC reporters with young looters, muggers and arsonists who were indeed representative of the culturally, economically, educationally and morally disadvantaged juvenile underclass. 

"I were jus' sat there, weren't I, know wha' I mean?"

The communication skills of so many of these kids were completely exhausted once they had parroted a few clich├ęs learned from their peers, paraphrased sentiments absorbed from the texts of rappers, resorted to empty catch-phrases and slogans.

This is a mass incoherence issue and it is not only to be found on the streets of Tottenham. Aren't the majorityof Tweets essentially devoid of anything approaching significant content? Don't the comments on YouTube and other popular websites evidence not just strangled language but an painful inability to formulate and express more than the most elementary of thoughts?

I find it all so very sad.

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