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Sunday, 22 May 2011

Everyday English, innit?

It's not often that my jaw drops open with shock or surprise, so it must have come as something of a jolt to discover that the word 'innit' is now permissible in Scrabble. Innit is a word (sort of) that asks for confirmation of a statement - or at least it used to. When Britain was a class-ridden place, the lower orders would have said 'ain't it' while the aristocracy would have asked 'don't you know'.
The thing that annoys me most about 'innit' is that is never changes: not tense, not person, nothing, never. Whereas correct English would be 'they ran down the street, didn't they?', street talk says 'they run down the street, innit?' Correct English in the future tense would be 'We'll go to that pub next week, shall we?' while 'innit' users will say 'We'll go to that pub next week, innit?'
'Innit' is not a word, it is an annoying tick that people who don't understand or care how English works add to the end of every expression or grunt in the hope of seeming cool, street-wise and fashionable. Not at all the people you'd expect to find settling down to a nice, quiet game of Scrabble...

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Everyday English are you out there?

Well, my slaved-over project, in which I tried to give a history, overview, in-depth study and generally amusing and accessible guide to the English language, hit the shops last week. At least that is what publishing used to mean. I know it's early days but, yes, I am a sad person with nothing better to do in life and I did spend time in W.H.Smiths and Waterstones looking for it.
Luckily, it has an eye-catching yellow cover and red spine, so it took no time at all to see that - wait for it - every single copy had been bought! There wasn't one solitary copy anywhere to be found. When I had a look on Amazon, there it was in all its gorgeous primary colours announcing that there is only one copy left. You see! People can't get their hands on it fast enough.
As an aside, earlier in the week I watched (again) Julie and Julia, the film about a New York charity worker who cooks and blogs her way through all of Julia Child's French recipes. She sets herself the project to be completed within a year. At the end of that she is famous! She becomes the doyenne of the Fourth Estate and, at the risk of repeating myself, she has a film made about her starring Meryl Streep (as Julia Child).
 It took me back to the first time I watched it. It made me desperate for a project of my own. Then I was asked to write Everyday English and I had 3 months of intense reading, writing, frustration, joy and creativity. I now feel the same need again. Perhaps I should begin telling you of the terrible schizophrenia induced by trying to cook some of the superb cakes in the Hummingbird Bakery cookbook and not end up looking like a Sumo wrestler...
Watch this space!