This page copyright 1998 The Shrubbery
THE MINISTRY OF CULTURE
Settle down at the back
Welcome, sit down and shut up. Now, get it straight. I don't intend to pull any punches during my under-blanket gropings of the sweaty private parts of the miserable old man of the sea we call 'CULTURE.'
AND, let me tell you, although I may be as British as a damp library, this column will be PAN-GLOBAL so that everyone in the world can enjoy it. As long as they speak English. Which brings me to the subject of this column: LANGUAGE.
Language is very important. It is easy to forget that without language our every word would be but the blatherings of self-important, over-eager numbskulls. Hang on a minute. On second thoughts, never mind.
The Origins of English
In the olden days, before the unfortunate goings on in Babel, everyone in the world spoke the same language. Bollocks. There were only fourteen words, and twelve of these were different inflections of the word 'Gaaaaaaaa.' Clearly something had to be done. But by who? Or rather, whom.
In 1209BC a Phoenician trader came to Southsea, England to sell his wares. The King at that time (King Gaaaaaa) sent one of his minions to the docks to score some fancy foreign shit. Hoping for potatoes and hard-core porn, or maybe some incredible mind-altering fungus, he was at first disappointed with what his serf brought back, but soon he came to realise that if he used it wisely, by Gaaa, he could take over the world. That errand boy's name was Gaaaa, and he had bought one item only; the English Language.
With suspicion, King Gaaaaaaa tipped the bag out onto the floor and prodded the language with a long stick. He was at a loss for words, which was the first recorded moment of true irony. Frothing and incoherent, he ordered that the Country be re-named England, so that it would look like we'd thought up the language for ourselves. And the rest is history. Well, all of it is history in a way, but the rest is probably a bit more historical if you know what I mean.
UK vs. USA
Englishis one of England's great export success stories. Many countries speak English, of varying quality, and every day factories in Shepton Mallett, Sydney and Idaho are kept busy forging new words, such as the recent 'PRO-ACTIVE' and that classic of flamboyant eighties design, 'SYNERGY.'
In America they also speak English, but with a different accent, different spelling and different words.
For instance, the world of motoring is a minefield for Anglo/US conversation: if you get your hood caught in your pants while your bonnet's up and your boot's open, you'll get funny looks. Whatever country you are in.
In America they say MATH singular instead of MATHS plural and mean something completely different when they pop out for a fag, or pat you on the fanny; so be careful. But, thanks to Sesame Street and Microsoft Word Spell Check taking the place of Enid Blyton and the Oxford English Dictionary respectively, we are fast approaching common ground and soon words like flipperty-gibbet and dignity will become archaic. In fact the word archaic may become archaic, which is a truly frightening and confusing thought.
Good news idlefolk. It won't be long before we all speak the same language: COMPUTER SPEAK. Oh yes. As technology evolves many complicated concepts such as exigent, haughty and obstreperous behaviour can be represented on computer screens by a series of icons. These icons will then be emailed directly into your eyes via the medium of magic laser gun. And we'll all go to work on flying skateboard things. Hooray.
By 2098 spoken language will be kept to a minimum, and will consist of very few words with slight phonetic variants. Ga ga and indeed, gaaaaa.
WHAT HAVE WE LEARNT?
Language is important when speaking
As is spelling when writing
Spelling is not so important when speaking though
When having transatlantic correspondence careful with the following:
BRACES; SUSPENDERS; PANTS; TRUNK; BOOT; HOOD.
Completely avoid:FAG, FANNY
Until next time