Should all English people be forced to speak English 'properly'?

Konrad Valentin   Saturday, April 17, 2004, 17:39 GMT
You may or may not have heard that there are plans to introduce legislation that will force all people seeking British citizenship to take English language lessons. Bearing in mind that there are many social groups within the UK already who get by OK without speaking a word of English, what do you think about these plans?
Jarec   Saturday, April 17, 2004, 20:29 GMT
How do you want to force all English people to speak RP?
RP   Saturday, April 17, 2004, 20:31 GMT
Actually most Britons don't speak RP.
no   Sunday, April 18, 2004, 08:30 GMT
what's RP
Juan   Sunday, April 18, 2004, 08:46 GMT
How embarrassing. Didn't that Loos woman (the alleged Beckham's mistress) claim to have corrected Posh's child on his bad grammar? Supposedly, Beckham's kid on a certain occassion asked, "Can I have one of THEM apples?" Ms. Loos went on to say that she wouldn't unless he used proper grammer (Can I have on of THOSE apples?).
Konrad Valentin   Sunday, April 18, 2004, 12:00 GMT
It's not bad grammar, it's non-standard grammar and it is therefore uncorrectable. Loos is an upper-class woman, whereas Beckham is a working-class man. They both use English differently. There is nothing wrong with either variety.
Paul M   Monday, April 19, 2004, 10:53 GMT
Are they having trouble of understanding each other?
If not, why?
Danger Mouse   Monday, April 19, 2004, 11:46 GMT
I think that kids can get away with poor grammar.
If I'd have been the kid I'd have kicked that dreadful Loos woman - how ugly is she? Sorry...not the point.
Konrad Valentin   Monday, April 19, 2004, 14:07 GMT
Danger Mouse,

There is no such thing as 'poor' grammar. Standard and non-standard English dialects have grammatical rules. It is incorrect to describe any sort of grammar as poor.
mjd   Monday, April 19, 2004, 18:16 GMT
However, according to the dialect/style that is considered educated or erudite, there is correct/incorrect grammar. It may be unfair, but it's how the world works, thus it's to one's advantage to learn "proper English."
Konrad Valentin   Monday, April 19, 2004, 18:59 GMT
There is no such thing as 'proper' English either. Consult any linguistics textbook written over the last fifty years or so and you will see what I mean. What you are referring to is probably standard English. This may be appropriate in certain contexts, but certainly not in all, and this does not mean that it is more proper than others.

It is, therefore, much better to talk about appropriacy in language rather than propriety. No dialect is improper, but some dialects may be inappropriate in certain contexts. If, for example, I suddenly began to use standard English down the betting office/pub/racecourse/football match/nightclub, etc., it would be frowned upon. It may even get me into a fight. This is not because standard English is improper and non-standard English proper, but because the standard English dialect is inappropriate in these (and many other) contexts. By the same token, my use of non-standard dialect in a job interview would almost certainly be viewed as inappropriate. It may also lose me the job.

As to your initial statement, I think you'll find that people's attitudes are changing. Young people are much more aware of the fact that a person's accent is not a reliable indicator of education or intelligence.

I find, rather ironically, that it is usually uneducated people who are prepared to judge someone as uneducated on the basis of accent and/or dialect alone.
Ain't   Monday, April 19, 2004, 19:01 GMT
There is no such thing as 'proper' English either. Yes, there is. Ain't is improper English.
Coolio   Monday, April 19, 2004, 20:51 GMT
Konstantin, Amen to dat mah brutha! You da man who's got da 411 on da English language. Ain't nobody gone tell me dat I talk impropa.

All youse out dare who be hatin' on me cuz I don't talk like youse betta lissun to mah man Konstantin cuz he knows wut he's talkin' 'bout. I's got an ejucation just like all y'all out dare so don't be dissin' me just cuz o' da way I talk, thinkin' that I'm all stoopid an' ignorant cuz that's juss plain prejudice or sumthin’.

Peace out mah bruthas an' sistahs
Konrad Valentin   Monday, April 19, 2004, 21:04 GMT
Ain't is improper English? No, it ain't!

Coolio, respec bro! Ain't no-one gonna diss my lily-white ass cuz I ain't as white as I looks.
Ain't   Monday, April 19, 2004, 22:15 GMT
You think I don't know what I'm talking about. You can't correct me when I say that ''ain't is improper English'' because I'm ain't.