Allan Takes Aim Blog

Mind your language

Posted on: 23 February 2012

First published The Chronicle, Canberra,Tuesday 21 February 2012

Today, sadly, some peoples’ grasp of language is so tenuous they seem to think that unless they use expletives, no one will understand their feelings about particular issues. In support of their position they argue that because expletives are often used in conversation between two men, two women, or between a male and a female, they should be accepted as part of conversational English.

While you might agree with this position I don’t. My view is that the loss of language and the increasing use of bad language is a major contributor to people without a reasonable grasp of words. But let me be even more frank, much as I like technology, I think this loss of language stems from an increasing use of what I call technology’s verbal shorthand.

These days when I get these verbal shorthand messages on my mobile phone, I need time to work out what they mean much as I did back in my intelligence days when trying to make sense of what was being said

Nevertheless when some older people complain about the young’s poor behaviour and language I say RUBBISH! Instead of complaining they should stop looking back at their young days through rose coloured glasses. The fact is: the behaviour and language standards of young people today are based on the standards set by them in their young days.

Listening to some older people talk it would be easy to gain the impression that in their young days society was close to be being a society of saints where, truth, honour, integrity and respect for others prevailed. The unfortunate thing is, the society they talk of is imagined. And as someone who long ago joined the ageing group I confess that, at times, as I listen to the radio, watch television or attend the theatre, I harbour the same imaginings.

Unfortunately reality soon sets in and I see the reality of society in my young days. Rose coloured glasses aside, the fact is that many older people were rebellious like many young people today and of the opinion that older people were nothing but a bunch of old fuddy- duddies who would be happy if society regressed to what they imagined was nothing more than their Utopian vision of the perfect society. I rather suspect that is how every society has progressed since man first trod the earth and how they will continue to progress.

The fact is that in Australia young people today are the successors of bodgies and widgies of earlier years and now our aged fuddy – duddies. Of course, some of today’s older people will never admit to it but obdurately they continue living in their personal Utopian time warps.

The same thing is happening in the UK. Many older men don’t want their grandchildren to see them as once reputedly degenerate Teddy boys. Some hope their days as Teddy boys with drainpipe trousers, full drape jackets with narrow lapels and velvet collars, thick crepe-soled shoes called brothel creepers and DA hairstyles with a quiff have been buried six feet deep.

As for older women I suspect some would rather forget their days as Teddy Girls, or Judies as sometimes they were called, who styled themselves to match. Indeed look- alikes were as much in fashion then as they are today.

And if only to show that no matter how things change they remain the same, further back, in what are known today as the Roaring Twenties, rebellious youth outraged a socially conservative society. They danced to the Charleston, Black Bottom, listened to jazz and ragtime, endorsed art deco, cars, cinema and took drugs, not to mention they frequented Illegal clubs which, in their time, were the equivalent of today’s Rave centres.

At the same time, the young should remember that many benefits they enjoy today, were initiated by these old fuddy- duddies. That said however, I do have a beef with those rude and crude young people who think using bad language is smart. It isn’t. In fact their bad language does a dis-service to themselves and their peers. Speaking personally, they would find politeness beneficial as it goes a long way towards getting what you have to say listened to.

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