Thursday, October 20, 2005

BBC cracks down on TV grammar

Officials with the BBC are worried that poor English grammar on children's shows will create a generation of kids who can't master the language. Presenters are being asked to respond to the concerns and will be given a grammar lesson, and their language will be monitored.

The move comes after a government-commissioned reported criticized programs' "tastelessness and cruelty," a Times of London story says. "The report criticised the frequent use of bad grammar, citing 'ain't' and 'you was' as examples."

At the heart of the matter seems to be the show "Dick & Dom," the top-rated program for 6- to 12-year-olds. The Professional Association of Teachers said this summer that it "undermines attempts to maintain standards of spoken English," according to the story.
Joyce Watts, a retired teacher, complained of "fast, loud speech" where "all the words run into one and cannot be understood". Ms Watts said interviewers would ask guests, "What d'ya like best" and, "What's ya faverit number?" Children's written work suffered as they began to spell words as they believed they should be pronounced.

She said: "One student once said to me, 'R dun wanna talk posh, miss'. My response to her was, 'I'm not asking you to, but I am asking you to speak properly'."

The Dick & Dom duo of Richard McCourt and Dominic Wood were nominated yesterday for the best Presenter and Entertainment show awards at the Children's Baftas. They have been reprimanded by Ofcom for wearing T-shirts with a sexual slogan and provoked further complaints from parents after acting out a graphic childbirth scene.

Asked if their anarchic show sets a poor example, Wood said: "In Da Bungalow doesn't educate children at all. They get educated during the week with programmes like Blue Peter and Newsround. The good thing about our show is that it is complete escapism."

Wait, there's more. The story has a list of "what not to say" (mistakes theirs, not mine).
  • "R dun wanna talk posh, miss" instead of "I do not want to talk in a posh way, Miss"
  • "Yeah" instead of "yes" and "nar" instead of "no"
  • Sarah should "of" revised more thoroughly instead of "have"
  • "He's gotten much better at tennis", instead of "become"
  • She "learned me" hot to drive, instead of "taught"
  • "Wassup?" instead of "What are you doing?"
  • "I were" instead of "I was" and "we was" instead of "we were"
  • "What are you doing Tuesday?" instead of "What are you doing on Tuesday?"
  • "Wotcha want?" instead of "what do you want?"
  • A lot of this sounds like they just don't want their children to talk like Americans.


    At 1:23 PM, October 20, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Well, it's not as if Americans are a shining beacon of grammatical and phonetic correctness in their language and speech.

    At 1:24 PM, October 20, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

    You hit the nail on the head with your last comment that they don't want their children to sound like Americans! I live in Canada and I believe we are all, not just the children, being influenced by low-brow American TV shows. I'm sick to death of "wanna," "gonna," "comin'" and "are" for "our." I really don't mind "wassup" because I think that's just a fun derivitive, but where do you draw the line between hip and hick? In Canada, we want our children to at least sound educated but if correct English isn't being taught, what are we to do?

    At 2:57 AM, October 21, 2005, Blogger Peter Fisk said...

    Speaking of the BBC and its language policies:

    Lately I’ve been listening to the BBC World Report on the drive home from work (through the wonders of modern gadgetry), and one thing that repeatedly strikes me is how wonderfully natural and idiomatic their(cq) use of the language is. It sounds far more familiar, relevant, engaging, and authoritative, even to an American ear, than does the VCR-manual dialect that we copy editors often render – with the best of intentions – in U.S. newspapers.

    At 3:28 PM, October 25, 2005, Anonymous Anonymous said...

    I used to be a copy editor at the National Post in Canada. It's a damning job to do because after awhile, you expect everyone to write and speak in the style of newspapers (in my case Canadian Press) and it drives you insane when they don't!


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