Wednesday, 28 January 2009
A short time ago I had to make a presentation about the teaching of English in Spain. Many present were in fact, Teachers. There were also many Spanish there and I felt they needed some relief from the hard grind the teachers put them through. So, with my tongue firmly in my cheek, and acting the part of a prosecuter in a law court, I presented the case against the superiority of English.
The English Scam.
Ladies and Gentlemen of the jury. The several accused who sit among you tonight are the worst form of villains. They are nothing less than confidence tricksters; Practitioners of the most heinous scam ever to have been perpetrated upon an unsuspecting and gullible planet.
They sit among you tonight for all the world as if butter wouldn’t melt in their mouths.
Who are these rogues you may be wondering? Study carefully the faces of those next to you. Can you believe that some of them are miscreants of the worst sort? Beware; they are clever and very devious.
I put it to you, we are harbouring a nest of vipers in our collective bosoms. People many of you regard as friends. People who you would like to think have your best interests at heart. People that you think are helpful.
I am sorry to say you have been misled.
Don Quijote springing from the pen of Cervantes
Like many of the criminal fraternity these unscrupulous rogues go by several aliases in an attempt to mislead you. They are called Americans, Australians, Canadians and, it breaks my heart to say, also English men and women whose objective is, by taking advantage of those unfortunate enough not to speak English from birth, to fool you into accepting a common form of communication.
Do you still doubt of whom I speak? Two of their best known pseudonyms are “Native English Speaker”, or in some isolated communities, “Anglos”.
Recognised, and shunned, in their own countries, these charlatans travel the world to fool the unfortunate speakers of Babel into learning English. Like zealots through the ages misguidedly bringing scripture to the heathen masses, these “Anglos” believe they bring the word of Shakespeare, Hemmingway and Jeffery Archer to the unlearned. That a few try to make converts out of a sense of innocent duty is quite bad enough, BUT SOME exact a charge and make quite a good living out of this scam.
This is not just a crime against all humanity, but also against the will of God. He did not build the tower of Babel to no purpose.
If there were a counsel for the defence he would tell you that his clients are men and women of good character. He will tell you their motives are purely altruistic and their practices are acts of generosity borne from a desire to encourage communication between nations and thereby bring World Peace. He will tell you that English is the first language of half a billion people and the second of even more. He will point out it is the language of the internet and of technology and so, … international. He will attempt to demonstrate that English is a good thing, and by extension, those who teach it are like missionaries. He will portray them as saints, as scholars, who wish to bring love and harmony into the world.
Harmony? Why these so-called saintly missionaries cannot even agree among themselves how the language of English should be spoken. As the great Professor Henry Higgins once despaired, “Why don’t the English teach their children how to speak?” He went on to declare that within the English speaking community it is almost regarded as “Freakish” to talk correctly. And he was talking about the very country of England itself which one would suppose to be the heartland of correct English. Yet from Manchester, Birmingham and London the listener will hear the strangest accents and idioms. It is obvious that even the English themselves hold their language in great contempt. Again, as the great Professor Higgins said, “They should be taken out and hung - for the cold-bloodied murder of the English tongue”.
After despairing of the language in the country of its origin Henry Higgins turned his attention to the people of the United States where, he famously declared, the English Language has almost completely disappeared! “And not only do they mispronounce it, they also misspell it. Webster’s dictionary is as great an act of defiance as the Boston Tea Party. It is also an affront to a great language.
But at least for them there are mitigating circumstances. They chose to leave the family of the British Empire and go their own way. Bereft of leadership they are bound to make mistakes. An American General has told us this, “More has been screwed up on the battlefield and misunderstood in the Pentagon because of a lack of understanding of the English Language than ANY other single factor”. However, we have to be lenient. We should regard them as delinquent children from a broken home.
Those for whom there is no excuse chose to take refuge at the opposite ends of the world yet still claim to look to England and its language for their inspiration. I speak of the Australians. And the great crimes they have committed against the language of Shakespeare allow no mitigation. They refer to the “afternoon” as “Arvo”, a chicken as a “chook” and have so distorted the vowels as to make their form of English almost unrecognisable.
Ladies and Gentlemen. These miscreants sit among you tonight. Unable to practise their dark arts within their home countries they came to Spain to swindle you. Every day of every week they pray on the gullible. They supposedly teach them “correct” English when it is patently obvious they have no idea of what “correct” English is. Do you think this is right? Would you allow your children to mix with such people? Would you even want to spend a single evening in their company or drink a beer with them?
I put it to you, Ladies and Gentlemen, that the best English speakers here tonight are in fact not Native English Speakers. They are those poor souls who have spent boring days and long nights studying the grammar of English. Something that no Native English Speaker would ever do! They are the ones whose pronunciation is at least consistent; Again, something very difficult to find within the English speaking world.
The best English speakers are, in fact, the Spanish.
There can only be one verdict handed down tonight. You must find us guilty.
As Shakespeare put in the mouth of Caliban in The Tempest, “You taught me language: and my profit on it is, I know how to curse. The red plague on you..”