Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Et Tu, Britain?

In high school, one of my friends had to take math in summer school, and because she wore glasses, everyone tried to cheat off of her tests.

Obviously, this is stereotyping, and stereotyping is wrong and misleading: poor eyesight doesn’t equal higher intelligence.

But I am guilty of something similar: when I hear an English accent, I assume that that person writes well.

I just read an article, however, that showed just how wrong it is to stereotype, even if it's for something positive. According to this article, if the Brits do adhere to the Queen’s English, the Queen has put down the Shakespeare and tuned into Jersey Shore marathons. A British company had to hire an English teacher to give staff “a proper grounding in traditional grammar and punctuation” because the senior executives couldn’t understand the reports from recent graduates. I couldn’t tell whether the article was referring to high school or college graduates, but it doesn’t really matter; I thought proper grounding in grammar and punctuation was part of the British DNA, like gaudy is part of the Kardashians’.

On the one hand, I guess it’s good news that the British aren’t genetically smarter than us. But, to tell you the truth, I am kind of bummed. Britain, to me, was like the last bastion of proper grammar. It was my grammar Shangri-La. It was a place where spell check didn’t exist because it wasn’t necessary, where over one hundred words existed for "grammar" because of its cultural significance, where a and lot never touched.

Sure, I am disappointed, but I still love England. How could I not? It produced this man:



Oh, and this one:

12 comments:

Carolina Valdez Miller said...

It is a disappointment, isn't it? Such as: every other British word being spelled with an added 'u', or with collective nouns being treated as plural, or the British punctuation AFTER the quotation mark? Actually, that one sort of makes sense.

Anyway...

Where I lived in the UK, this was a very common phrase: "I am poorly," which meant, "I am feeling poorly." I know, I don't mean to further depress you. Focus on Clive. What light through yonder window breaks...it is the east, and Clive is the sun...you know, totally hot.

Carolina Valdez Miller said...

P.S. I should probably mention that I have adopted that phrase. It's fun to say. I also labour under the illusion that I deserve a cosy holiday week-end at Brighton.

P.P.S. I sometimes also say things like, "Ya'll ain't the shiznit, yo."

Gorilla Bananas said...

I hate to disillusion you further, but punctuation would be the least of your worries on reading some of the utter hogwash written by British students. The ones with degrees in English and History are probably OK.

MartyrMom said...

I love the fact that you squashed the myth of wearing glasses with a picture of Palin!! Was that on purpose???

Joanna St. James said...

oh come on! did you really think we brits were all that?
I like the Sarah Palin picture, she is definitely breaking stereotypes isn't she?
whenever you come to the UK check out my petit coin and you might still be pleasantly surprised.

Janet Johnson said...

I shouldn't admit that I have no idea who that is in the last picture. *blush*

It makes me laugh to hear all the funny stereotypes that exist. We humans are pretty funny. :)

Hart Johnson said...

teehee It DOES seem like it ought to be so, eh? One thing to keep in mind is O levels versus A levels. Some Brits are done with school after what we consider 10th grade, and only go on if they are University bound. Now I've got a good friend who stopped there, and her language and grammar skills are fabulous, but she says she always had a knack and interest, and has read voraciously her whole life, so she may be the exception.

Mary Aalgaard said...

We all make presumptions, and language is constantly evolving. Interesting characters are the ones who surprise us.

Tere Kirkland said...

Mmm, Clive Owen. Yum.

Funny post! Did you ever see the Arrested Development with Charlize Theron? Her character was a little developmentally delayed, but no one American ever noticed because of her sexy English accent. Hilarity ensued.

Lindsay (a.k.a Isabella) said...

Poor Mr. Shakespeare Most pupils doth drop thy subject cometh the time for choosing A'Level courses. LOL.

Good thing not all of us Brits are like those in the article. Interesting topic though. :)

Lola Sharp said...

Oh Tere, I LOVE that episode (LOVE A.D.!) and that's exactly what I thought of when I started reading this post!

Also, Missed Period, thanks for Clive. :)

Now I think I shall go play the pianoforte...

notesfromnadir said...

You're right about the British stereotype. Of course there are many different accents, but to most Americans they all sound "posh"!