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What are we doing to our language?

About Subversive

Do you have your own gripe with your local or state government? And what are the streets like in your part of town, in your home state?

If you'd like me to fire a rocket up them, or a shoddy business, I'm listening! You can email me here.

Read what peeves this author off about how we are corrupting words and language ... then tell us what annoys you.

It is said that language is culture, that our language is a critical component of the culture of a group, tribe, state of nation.

In Australia, we follow the Queen's english, but ugly Americanisms are sneaking in.

In Australia, we follow the Queen's english, but ugly Americanisms are sneaking in.

I agree. But it leaves me to wonder, what does the language of Australians say about our culture and nation?

Sometimes, I'm left scratching my head in frustration at how our language is being corrupted.

Consider these examples of mispronunciation:

  • Film (when pronounced as fillum)
  • Basic (when pronounced as bassic)
  • Gross (when pronounced to rhyme with toss)
  • In all three cases, the alternative pronunciation is common, but wrong -- although some may argue they are simply regional variations.

    Even if that is so, what about these mispronunciations?

  • Parlament (instead of parliament)
  • Gumment (instead of government)
  • Australya (instead of Australia)
  • Not only are these errors of pronunciation, but they are common.

    Then there are the misused words, such as:

  • Dilemma (which is not a choice between two things, but specifically a choice between two bad things)
  • Bemused (which has nothing to do with amusement, but rather confusion)
  • Racist (when referring to Muslims, when the focus is their religion. A Muslim can be born in any country and can be of any race).
  • These are all too common and reflect ignorance.

    What about these absurd phrases?

  • Very unique (there are no degrees of uniqueness)
  • Free gift (all gifts are free)
  • First inaugural (when the inaugural is always first)
  • These are also common, even among journalists, who should know better.

    Then there are abuses of contemporary language, such as:

  • Gotten (when ‘got’ works perfectly well in all applications)
  • Team X versed team Y (when versus has no verb)
  • Youse (the ignorant attempt at a pluralisation of you)
  • These non-words are uttered with ubiquity. They reflect pig ignorance.

    Finally, there are the Americanisms, such as:

  • Zeeeee (for Z, instead of the correct pronunciation of zed)
  • French fries (which were not invented by the French)
  • Bathroom (instead of toilet)
  • These are also common and likely reflect the influence of US television and movies.

    The Federal Government recently suggested introducing a harsher English language test for immigrants. Yet I've heard all of these abominations used by second, third and fourth-generation Australians.

    What is wrong with us? What are we doing to our language and culture?

    In response to complaints about these speech habits, it is common for people to argue that language evolves. Language does, and must, evolve.

    There was once no word for a ‘computer, because there was no such thing. But none of the examples above are about language evolving. They are all examples of laziness and ignorance.

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