Believe it or not, I like new developments in English. That might come as a surprise to those who enjoy my Grammar posts, but it’s true. I post about grammar because I believe (and your feedback supports this belief) that many people want to know the “right” way of doing things and I was blessed with an education that taught me a lot about that.
But just for a change, here are some of the wonderful “wrong” bits of English that pepper our lives, and that I love just as much as their anatomically correct siblings.
The blessing, God be with you has been morphed by centuries of use until the original words are as forgotten as the meaning. In a hugely secular society, it’s probably safer that way and goodbye now has a host of meanings and connotations which make it a valuable part of our lives. There are many other examples of this too – which should make us more welcoming to the newest ones, like “imma” for “I’m going to”.
Ey up, mi duck?
Local dialects have been dying out ever since the invention of the horse and cart, but they remain in the details and add to the richness of our culture. Just look at the different terms of endearment used across Britain (mi duck, my lover, darlin’, chuck…).
My friends and I enjoy trying out different dialects for fun – we mean nothing by it, and certainly don’t want to offend anyone. On a boating holiday in Yorkshire, one of them once bumped into a local who asked how the previous lock had been. “Eee, it were right grand,” said my friend, before realising his mistake and quickly ducking into the boat out of sight!
Woof to the Fictioneers
Like any group of people who spend long enough in close quarters, my friends have also developed our own subset of slang. And a load of the boys in our group went to a British public school together, so they came with a ready-made language too. And then there are in-jokes and made-up words like Fictioneers or InMonsters. If you use these words out of context, people might look at you strangely, and like talking in your own language in front of foreign guests, there are plenty of times when it’s inappropriate, but shared language binds us.
There’s a place for shorthand when you’re typing, and for showing those things that could be seen or heard in ordinary conversation but are missed in the written word. Until someone invents a sarcasm font and a few for other tones of voice too, the smiley will also remain a useful part of our written repertoire.
And TTFN is really no different from Goodbye.
What’s your favourite piece of “wrong” English?