Friday, 28 September 2012

The Revenge of Good King George

In the 1770s the American colonies revolted, thereby defying God, King and Country, changing the timeline of history forever and opening up a trajectory that would ultimately lead to hamburger franchises, conservative talk radio and reruns of The Beverly Hillbillies.  True patriots of the time, loyal to the Crown, were subsequently forced to flee across the border to His Majesty's Dominion of Canada, where they reestablished themselves in villages like Pugwash, Nova Scotia.

Since then the story has been a dismal one, particularly from the perspective of the Queen's English.  Spelling terrorist Noah Webster willfully attempted to turn the language upside down with devilish perversities and infelicities which were then exported back to bastardise the Mother Tongue.  Even the Australians, ever a nation of star spangled suck-ups, were carried away with the dastardly plot, and dropped the anointed letter 'u' from colour and labour, as even a cursory check of the Macquarie Dictionary clearly demonstrates.

But now there's a reverse trend underway, according to a reserved but cautiously gleeful report from the BBC.  It seems Americans are warming - and not before time - to "Britishisms."  Metrosexuals and gingers are meeting on weekends in trendy gastropubs for a bit of a chat up and even perhaps indulge in an occasional spot of snoggingSpot on!

Resistance would be gormless.


  1. I'm a fan of a later spelling reformer, Isaac Funk
    (a former Lutheran minister)

    On page 2780 of his 1913 dictionary he lists the 31 rules
    of the Simplified Spelling Board of 1906 which had one
    New Zealand member, Chief Justice Robert Stout.

    Most of the rules fully or partially adopted in US,
    but some flopped, like --
    Rule 31: "-ve after l or r" Rule: Omit e.

    But Rule 10: "-ough or o - choose O" finally popular! (mobile texting)

  2. And who was the Aussie Rep on the 1906 S.S.B.?
    Thomas G Tucker, Prof. Classical Philology, U.of Melb.
    Of course, just as expected.
    And where is the jingoistic Macquarie Dictionary from?
    Crude Convict Cockney Sydney, of course.

  3. That's certainly an interesting perspective! And, I do understand. However, back when I was building and riding around on Triumph Bonnevilles, I aways fantasized that they were Harley Davidsons.

    I always wondered about the vestigial British "u" in color, and labor. What occurred to me when I first became aware of these was that this "u" did not change the pronunciation. We pronounce "our" as ower. So, adding a "u" to color, it would seem, would change the pronunciation to col-ower.

    Many Canadians treat "u" differently than do those of us south of the King's border. Even Peter Klute and Tom Hnatiw on the TV program "Dream Car Garage", say aboot, instead of about. Seems that the letter "u" is a rather contentious letter at best. Imagine the consternation of linguistics professors hundreds or thousands of years in the future when English is a dead language. It makes one wonder if southern speakers of all of the ancient dead languages spoke with a twang. LOL!


    1. "vestigial British u"
      Certainly not vestigial from Latin, making SSB Rule 23 a 'no brainer'
      (and compatible with USA's emerging more Latinate language, Spanish)
      ..but a victim of neo-conservatism in some colonies (Aus, Can)
      Yet Canada uses Rules, 15 and 7 as well as Rule 30:"Omit -ue silent after g"

  4. Famous Scot/NZ Sir Robert Stout had some surprisingly modern views:
    "He learned debating skills from sessions where the pupils were
    instructed in the positions of the various churches and asked
    to take sides and debate them. From this experience he had acquired
    a dislike of sectarianism and dogmatism..
    "Stout was an agnostic, whose reputation for being anti-religious
    was not entirely deserved. . Some aspects of church life fascinated him:
    he was very fond of listening to sermons; he admired vigorous debaters,"

    The Simplified Spelling Board was bankrolled by another Scot: A.Carnegie,
    whose 5th Ave mansion was not far from the SSB which was on Madison Ave.

  5. As you well know, Americans and British Commonwealth folks have different accents and pronunciations for what is theoretically the same language. When no less an historian than Paul Johnson was asked the question, "When did Americans diverge from the British (including Australia and NZ) accent?"; his reply was interesting, "The Americans did NOT change their accent, it was the British and their subjects who did."

    Can this be proven? No. Because there are no recordings dating from the 18th Century. But, he maintains that it is the Americans(!) who still speak the "Kings English". How about that?!

    And, to go one further, the most proper English spoken in America (according to National Geographic) is in central Kentucky.