If there’s one thing that makes me cringe, it’s when an advert comes on the television for HDTV and the voiceover pronounces it as ‘Haitch DTV’. Every time without fail, whether I am alone or with someone, I always look at the TV and say, ‘aitch, not haitch’, almost like an automatic knee-jerk reaction. Why you may ask? The reason for this may be evident if you have just read the above and asked yourself this very question. The answer is that ‘aitch’ is the correct way to pronounce this letter yet I hardly ever hear it pronounced this way unless I am watching the News at Ten where, reassuringly, the presenters still use ‘BBC English’. Some may say, well what does it matter, surely there are more important things to worry about? Ever since I can remember, I have had an avid interest in the written and spoken word. At school I relished reading, writing and creating stories; at university I studied journalism, literature and creative writing. I loved how language could be used to inspire, create, describe and paint pictures with words. Language and the correct usage of it was very important to me and still is. So you can imagine I was quite surprised, dismayed even, to hear, even in my final year at university, fellow students using major grammatical inaccuracies and not even being aware of it. Things such as double positives (it’s a lot more bigger’) and double negatives (I don’t want nothing’), faux pas that I had left behind in my early years of secondary school, if not before. For the record, the last two examples should be ‘a lot bigger’ and ‘I don’t want anything’, respectively. I don’t wish to patronise any readers by explaining this but simply feel the need to because of what I hear around me, and even on regional and national television, every single day. A local academic who wishes to remain anonymous told me that, in his opinion, students who do not have a sound grasp of good grammar should not be able to pass set assignments or progress through university as ‘easily’ as they do, with some institutions turning a blind eye to this so that their students pass and the university’s reputation remains intact. Whilst this is unsettling to me as a graduate and as an aspiring journalist, it is even more so as a mother. I want my child to have the same regard for language as I do, and to want to speak and write ‘correctly’ and have respect for the correct usage of our language. I want this to be something
for him to aspire to.
Yet, in the ever-increasing world of text-speak and slang, where even TV presenters, actors, celebrities and ‘role models’ do not abide by this, it does not leave me feeling too optimistic.