Bitch on the Blog

July 21, 2011

La Catastrophe (French, noun, female: disaster)

Filed under: Uncategorized — bitchontheblog @ 20:26

Grannymar has made a fine point in a comment over at Ramana’s blog.

What she says is, in my book, INVERTED snobbery. She prides herself on NOT giving a fig about the finer details of language and, as she so wittily puts it, “punctification”. She just gets by – as she says. Makes herself understood. Good, GM. Who wants to be MISunderstood? No need though (see ‘inverted snobbery’) to point a finger at those who actually do give a hoot, a La Truss (mentioned by Ramana), whether we shoot, eat peas or just find the nearest tree to pee. Those who care and lug around the odd apostrophe. You, GM, and Keith Waterhouse would have made the match from hell. (For those not in the know: Keith Waterhouse is Lynn Truss’s love child and co-founder of the Apostrophe society – which FOS, father of son, also belongs to). I myself call it “The Catastrophe Society”.

Don’t say a word.

I bet GM, you are one of those people, who couldn’t give a toss over the difference between “fewer” and “less”. Welcome to your nearest supermarket. How happy you will be. As long as you find the checkout with ten items or fewer in your basket. So, please, do not complain in a post or comment that children, these days, are not taught the skills that equip them to get through the average day without making idiots of themselves.

If everyone were in your league you’d find comfort in numbers.

What’s my point (sic)? My point is that there will always be the GMs who have other things on their minds than the finer detail. That’s ok. I’d never ever look down upon someone who doesn’t know where to put a dot even if it might help “under”standing. A good person is a good person. But don’t turn it round, GM. Just because there are people who DO care about the intricacies of a language doesn’t make THEM someone to be derided – by YOU.

Hot tip of the day, GM, and why don’t you try it some day: Learn another language. For comfort, and to reaffirm what you say: Go to Italy. Sign language will suffice. I am sure you will make yourself very well understood indeed.




  1. I personally love green grocer spelling…one of my heroes is mMr Webster of Webster’s Dictionary (Don’t yo lust love the idea of your copy being Morocco Bound?) and color fame.

    I was once sniped at by a wee Scottish Folk singer who had studied English to great depth at University and declared that Webster’s attempts at various rationalisations of the English language were wrong! Why? Because he was using German as a model.

    Of course I jumped in and pointed out that that would be more appropriate than imposing a Latin model of grammar and punctuation upon a language whose roots were never found in Latin…. Almost uniquely Britain, upon the retreat of our Roman over lords did not develop a language with such roots.

    Being the wonderful place that it was in those days the Angles and Saxons decided to settle here and bring their languages with them. Next the Vikings settled and fed some of their ideas into the languages and dialects of these Islands. Surprisingly the Normans did not really have that mush influence with their frenchifying, although French was the language of the court for some time…as indeed it was in Mother Russia I believe… well quality will out and English dominated here and Russian there.
    And then we had people like Johnson who imposed their Latin ideas of Grammar on us.

    Perhaps the fact that the Scots clung on to their old English dialect (and called it Scottish) is one of the reasons Johnson disliked the Scots so much.

    Now of course you will be told that the real English language is that used by the Americans and that is what the world demands to be taught. Of course it is the ubiquity of American English in the meeja, along side a strong presence of other forms of English that influences the less educable majority in these Islands. Innit.

    One of my favourite people is Polish-Austrian violin teacher of our acquaintance whose English is perfect, both in the spoken and written forms. He also speaks and understands about seven other languages and despises the memory of Hitler,not because of his family having to flee Austria but because his German was atrocious. To hear him speak English is a wonderful experience. He explains this perfection as being due to his having learned English as a foreign language from strict text books. No English person ever spoke thus, except as an affectation. The world is moving too fast for children taught today to be expected to retain that which they do not come across except in lessons or if they are building all their future hopes upon passing examinations based on a form of English that existed only in people’s imaginings or possibly in the fairly distant past.

    By the way, the violin teacher is the one whom I discovered (who ever says whom these days) giving Youngest Magpie fencing lessons during the first violin lesson with him. They were using their bows. Absolutely the right tutor for Youngest.

    I’m tempted to say that it’s all a lode of old roobarb. Any language worthy of the name evolves and changes through the ages.

    Comment by Magpie 11 — July 21, 2011 @ 21:30 | Reply

  2. Angles & Saxons, then Vikings, Normans. Johnson with his Latin. Anything I knew I forgot. Thanks for the review /lesson.

    Comment by bikehikebabe — July 21, 2011 @ 23:27 | Reply

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