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Speak proper!

(97 Posts)
Riverwalk Thu 07-Feb-13 13:27:23

A primary school headmistress in Middlesbrough has asked parents to ensure that children speak properly and not use colloquialisms - she says it has a detrimental affect on their spelling and will hinder them in later life.

Is she right?

I'm inclined to agree with her.

Riverwalk Thu 07-Feb-13 13:32:59

typo - that should be effect!

gillybob Thu 07-Feb-13 13:35:16

Speak proper. Like what aaah do ? grin

Yes I do agree with her to an extent as long as its not carried too far.

Lilygran Thu 07-Feb-13 13:39:55

Yes. The people who argue, as an academic did this morning, that encouraging children to use standard English might damage their self-esteem always speak in standard English. There's nothing wrong with dialect, text-speak or slang but if that's all you can use it's a big disadvantage. And as the head teacher said, if they think it's 'I'd of' and 'could of' that's what they write.

glammanana Thu 07-Feb-13 13:41:25

Whilst I do tend to agree with her I also fear for the regional dialects and that they will be lost.I think there is nothing better than listening to the Geordie/Scottish accent and their very endearing colloquialisms.

janthea Thu 07-Feb-13 13:44:50

Yes I agree with her. If children don't use the English language correctly when they speak, then they tend not to when writing it. This will give them a disadvantage when they grow up. It could make them appear stupid and badly educated when it could be the opposite.

Tegan Thu 07-Feb-13 13:46:20

Was she not referring to the 'gangspeak' culture that we seem to have now?

HildaW Thu 07-Feb-13 13:51:38

If I read this right shes underlining a sort of 'time and place' policy. Whilst shes happy to see regional accents shes also introducing children to a fact of life. People do judge you by the way you speak (whether rightly or wrongly) and if you can express yourself well in any given environment you will make yourself accepted and understood in lots of different ways.
Thank goodness we dont all use RP but on the otherhand if you are trying to show a future enployer that you can communicate well with all walks of life then you will be doing yourself a favour.

Movedalot Thu 07-Feb-13 13:57:38

Children are quite capable of understanding that what is acceptable in one situation is unacceptable in another. Of course they should know how to speak properly if not how will they communicate in a work environment

vampirequeen Thu 07-Feb-13 14:24:53

When I was at school we had 'school speak' and 'play speak'. In other words we could speak properly and in dialect depending on the situation. On our first day in Juniors our headteacher, who we all feared and loved, came into the classroom and taught us how to pronounce 'th'. Once he was sure we could all do it he told us that anyone caught mispronouncing it would be caned. Looking back, and thinking about what a lovely man he was, I doubt the threat was ever followed through but then it didn't need to be because we all believed him. Teacher's were allowed to correct our speech. Nowadays that's not allowed as it is seen as criticism and detrimental to the children's self esteem.

Of all the things that happened to me in my childhood I can't say that being taught to speak correctly adversely affected my self esteem. In fact I did the same with my children so they're able to speak properly when necessary and fit in when with friends.

JessM Thu 07-Feb-13 14:56:40

When I was a teacher in Oldham some staff used to tell off the kids if they said "nowt" and "owt". I thought if such language good enough for Shakespeare, who was I to disagree.

Anne58 Thu 07-Feb-13 15:04:23

I refered to this in Cari's Pedants thread yesterday. I was a bit taken aback by what was suggested as the correct version of "Giz'it ere" !

POGS Thu 07-Feb-13 16:51:37

Just looked at the thread 'Careers Advice For Children' and it reminded me of my experience of the carrers advisor I went to on leaving school.

I lived in Bath at the time and I had a strong somerset accent. Still do, if and when I go home. The career advisor asked me what I wanted to do. I said I was moving to Leicester and I had applied to the GPO to become a telephonist. The rotten sod laughed and said 'My dear you have no chance, your education and speech is by far too poor'.

Well I thought my dear dad was going to explode. He jumped up and said "Thank you for your time, we are off now we have important things to do", "Good day madam". Off we trotted.

I got the job, because I learnt how to 'loose' the accent and to this day I mix and match it to the environment I am in. So I guess I am saying there is no need to loose your accent but there is an intelligent reason for being able to adapt to, dare I say it 'Queen's English'. It's a matter of being able to have the social skill to adapt, nothing more, nothing less.

Having said that I don't think accents are seen as a problem other than if you have to commumicate for work purposes. You only have to listen to the t.v. to know things have changed, quite right too. Oh dear have I just made a vote for then a vote against. confused grin

vampirequeen Thu 07-Feb-13 17:50:48

My mum had the exact same advice from a careers advisor so she went to work in a shop. A year later she applied to the GPO and was taken on. I grew up speaking GPO English at home and dialect English with friends.

POGS Thu 07-Feb-13 18:39:28


I bet your mum is very punctual as well is she?. We had satrting times of 6,58am or 7,41am. If you were so much as 1 minute late you had a cross agaisnt your name and asked by the super why you were late. confused

Anne58 Thu 07-Feb-13 19:00:33

I think I am an accent "sponge*. I did notice when I was working (sob!) that my voice and phrasing would tend to change in direct relation to that of the person that I was speaking to.

(or should that be "the person to whom I was speaking"?)

Ana Thu 07-Feb-13 19:02:14

Only when you're in Pedants' Corner, phoenix! wink

Galen Thu 07-Feb-13 19:25:05

I'm Black Country born and bred. Although I had elecution lessons at the convent and was encouraged to use the a at the friary, I'm afraid 10 years of dialect in general practice took their toll.
When I moved down to here I got teased by my colleagues (All ex-officers my dear)
And there fore mainly lost my accent!
Some of you have met and spoken to me and may think otherwise.
I'd be interested to know what you think?

Galen Thu 07-Feb-13 19:25:40

Elocution and the long A

Ana Thu 07-Feb-13 19:34:02

I will never use the long 'a' except in 'garage' (I know, it's an oddity in my upbringing!). Perhaps if I'd ever lived down south I would have done so to fit in, but the situation has never occurred.

FlicketyB Thu 07-Feb-13 19:37:39

If you want a good job and a successful career, whether a manual craft or highly qualified professional you need to speak and write English in a language and style that is generally understood where ever you go. It doesnt mean losing your local accent, but it means being able to use accepted grammatical structures and a widely understood vocabulary and accepting that dialect turns of language and phrase may not be recognised outside your area.

I went to University in Newcastle-upon-Tyne in the early 1960s. I had had a peripatetic childhood that included living in the Far East and Belgium and Germany but I can remember never feeling so foreign as I did in my first term in Newcastle. The local accent was, and is, delightful but the language then spoken in shops, pubs and on buses was closer to Norwegian than English and I did not understand what was being said to me at least half the time. DH who I met there used to visit the shipyards as part of his studies and said the Norwegians on his course understood the shipyard workers more easily than English students from elsewhere in the UK. Think how difficult that made llife for redundant shipyard workers when their industry died and they wanted to move to other parts of the UK where work was more available.

Children's life opportunities are limited if they do not have within their capacities the ability to communicate in a manner that is generally understood.

Galen Thu 07-Feb-13 19:37:41

It's make you laugh to see a giraffe walk down the path to take bath on a Saturday afternoon!grin

Ana Thu 07-Feb-13 19:39:09

I'm too old to change now! grin

Nelliemoser Thu 07-Feb-13 19:41:59

I would think most children could easily adapt to this "bilingual" way of talking standard English at school and another at home.

Children of primary school age are supposed to be better at learning a new language than older ones. Isn't it something to do with the younger brain still being tuned to learn language? A skill which fades as they go through Childhood.

Would teachers really find it difficult to explain the benefits of being able to modify an accent and dialect to make it generally comprehensible?

Anne58 Thu 07-Feb-13 19:48:09

Nice one Ana !

When I was a youngster, I spent term time with my mother in Middlesex/Surrey (Middlesex seems to have disappeared) and school holidays in Malvern with my Welsh Grandmother and Yorkshire born Grandfather.

When in Surrey I was occasionally accused of speaking like a "yokel" and when in Malvern was sometimes told that I was speaking "posh" !

As far as I was concerned I was speaking the same no matter where I was!