The Times – The Innit Generation<br/> Not every child can be eloquent; but each child deserves to be articulate

The government review of the curriculum in primary schools to be published on Thursday will set out to tackle “word poverty”. It proposes to free the curriculum in order to teach unprivileged children language skills. It sees inability to speak clearly as a permanent handicap in the obstacle race of life.

The project is not to train all children to speak with the cut-glass pronunciation of the Prince of Wales. His “Oxford accent” (or Received Pronunciation, RP) is considered by some as elite and posh; by others as the clearest and best way of speaking. Ask the Americans about the latter. And it recognises that children speak in different registers for different contexts. In pronunciation a thousands accents may boom, including BelfastSpeak, in which a lake means a hole in a kettle.

But poverty in the basic grammar of language is a millstone round the necks of children. The technical term for such linguistic ignorance is a solecism. Athenians invented the word to describe the illiterate corruption of the Attic dialect as spoken by those Athenian colonists who settled at Soloi (Soli) in Cilicia.


And I can understand Charles just fiiine. But remember when Diane Sawyer (I think) did one of her gushing-tours-of-British-Royalty, the infamous interview where she kept referring to Princess Diana as “your mom”, where they subtitled William and Harry? Lord that was embarrassing.

Of course, when the 7-7 conspirators were being rounded up, they subtitled the heck out of their neighbors, whom I don’t think I could have understood without a bit of serious concentration.