6 Nov 2008

Grumpy Old Man

For some weeks now, I've been irked by the English department where I work. Keep in mind, I work in a secondary school, and the English department is responsible for teaching English language to the students.

My peeve comes from the fact that most of the teachers speak English so poorly, it grates my nerve endings to no end. Oddly enough, the 2 who speak well, are an Indian, and a Caucasian with impeccable grammar and syntax.

I shudder when I hear phrases such as; "Can you borrow me £5?" Hello! I usually answer, "I don't need money but if you wish to give me some, I won't refuse."

Then I enjoy seeing them scramble their wits trying to explain what they mean. Borrow and lend have two different meanings and the English use them opposite to the rest of the world.

Then we come to the use of 'a' and 'an'. For the last time people, 'a' comes before a word that begins with a consonant, or sounds as if it begins with a consonant. 'An' comes before a word beginning with a vowel or sounding as if it begins with a vowel.

Some examples:

  • a historic moment not an historic moment.
  • an honourable title not a honourable title.
  • a hotel not an hotel

Get the picture now? The problem is that the English speak English so badly and mangle the pronunciation of words that they totally f**k up the rules of grammar. In this case they drop the 'h' sound from historic and then insist that 'an' historic is right. The h is not silent.

Of course, American readers must be gloating by now over me raking the English for their bad grammar - don't. You too abuse the language, even more perhaps.

Today, the person in charge of the Admin department (let's call her the chief secretary as she vets the correspondence and promotional material going out) told me that the punctuation marks go outside quotation marks.

Come again? In over 3 decades, that's a first for me.

Grrr. Do I grin and bear it, or do I just correct the ruddy blighters?

Oh, that reminds me of a situation I had recently where I used the word 'Blimey!' in an email to a Trinidadian. I was told that if I couldn't be respectful I ought not to write.

I wanted to tell the person that perhaps instead of castigating me for using a slang term with which she was unfamiliar (it was an informal email after all), she should perhaps read more to enlighten herself to its meanings and usage. I desisted of course; I opted to cut contact with the ignoramus.

Sigh. I truly am a Grumpy Old Man.