Friday 23 January 2015


You may have noticed that, one way or another, I do rather keep on about language and the use of it. I do see it as reflective of our way of being in the world. There are rules and permissions and grammar and syntax. I see these as  clearly reflecting boundaries, patterns, containment in every area of life. The other take on this is the one that sees language as a moveable feast with no need for rules or formalised structure so long as one is understood. I read, recently, of an idea to teach children to write as they hear. The mind boggles. It reminded me of my first registered lesson in correct speech. I remembered my Mother teaching me the difference between 'can' and 'may'. "You can have another chocolate; you may not".It is  not only structure wh. should cradle us. What about the rhymes and reasons which pepper our careful language, learnt from the laps of the up-bringers

Looking back, I wish I had better understood the extraordinary power and scope of the parent in educating the young. However, on the positive side, it can be fun. Think of all those old wives' sayings. 'A stitch in time saves nine'.Fair enough: stitch up the inch of dropped hem before it turns in to six. 'Look after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves'. Rather a long-term prospect, that, I suspect. 'The  sleep you have before midnight is better in quality than sleep that comes after'. I am still working on that one. I must have been a nightmare to bring up. Face value was not my stance of first response. "Because I say so" was 'a red rag to a bull'. There must be some of you old enough to remember being told you couldn't wear your favourite jumper until it was aired. Indeed, I cannot be alone in being brought up in dire fear of the damp. or was that unique to the Welsh? In theory, I suppose, it would be possible to teach a child that black was white or that day was night, such is the power of the parent as the source of all experience. How big a step would that be to arrive at Hitler Youth? Oh dear, Liz appears to have mislaid her sense of the comic and the ironic. Ultimately, calling a spade a spade, the happiest of pithy sayings would have to be' do as you would be done by'. Bore da.
   Ps I forgot to tell you that an example of an 'how to' letter for a writer to send to a publisher - as opposed to an 'how not to' letter - contained a grammatical error in the first sentence. Not only accuracholic but pedantic, too - me, not them, or I not they.

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