Since October 2003 as I have been answering questions on the forums I've been delighted at the breadth and scope of the topics raised. Some of the issues discussed have certainly given me an insight into my own language. You reach the stage when you realise that what might seem screamingly obvious to yourself, is an unfathomable problem to someone else. Perhaps what I have just written might appear fatuous itself. But bear with me and I'll come to the point I want to make. It is clearly fruitless to adopt a defiantly prescriptive attitude towards variations in the use of the language simply because English is still alive and well and changing constantly.
I know I'm always banging on about him but Shakespeare is a prime example of a writer who broke all the rules and yet his work is still performed some 400 years after his death. In fact the Royal Shakespeare Company will be embarking on what they call The Complete Works (all his plays) starting this month and going on till April 2007. But I'm wandering and you must be wondering (I've put those two verbs together just to please the academics!) where exactly I'm going. My plea really is that we should accept the fact that there are several Englishes and they can all enrich each other as long as the end result is clarity and intelligibility.
Spelling of course is a bone of contention and people get steamed up about whether it's American English or British English spelling. My only comment on that is perhaps consistency should be the lode star. When I used to be an Examiner for the Cambridge English Language exams, the advice generally was that if a candidate started in one form, they should continue with it. We are fairly enlightened about this on the site. As you will notice the first 350 odd tests written by me (and I'm still churning them out) use British spelling but recently we have taken on some American testers and they naturally use the American spelling system. By the way there was a dramatist called George Bernard Shaw (Irish by birth) who was passionate about reforming the British spelling system and he left money in his will to start the reformation. As far as I know, the money is still sitting somewhere accruing interest but not being used for its original purpose and GBS died in 1950!
In conclusion I should be most interested to learn the thoughts of others concerning the philosophy of World Englishes and their acceptability.
What do you think about the different types of English?
Let's discuss the topic here: 'Englishes'?
If you have any English grammar or vocabulary questions,
please post them on this English Grammar Forum.