Posh Prof tells young Tone to learn to speak proper
Sunday 19 October 1997
John Honey, formerly professor of English at Osaka University in Japan, indicted the Labour leader with a grave charge: that he had failed to guard his educated accent from the infiltration of Estuary English or "watered down Cockney".
The evidence was heard in silence, as the professor began to deconstruct the language of Tony Blair. His reading of I Corinthians 13 at the funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales, had been "impressive" but he had let himself down in the eighth verse by carelessly dropping his 'd's.
"When I was a chil', I spoke as a chil', I though' as a chil'," read Prof Honey, in a passable impersonation. "Now I put away chil'ish things."
Further, in the Scottish devolution campaign Mr Blair had allowed his 'i's to be "lowered" to 'u's. "Conservatuve," said Prof Honey. People nodded. They had noticed, too.
Was this the effect of the County Durham constituency or the Premier's school Fettes College? His favourite teacher, Eric Anderson, who went on to become headmaster of Eton, or even his days at Oxford? No, these linguistic traits had come from Estuary English, which has "reached epidemic proportions, and it is now common to hear it among school teachers and university professors".
As Prof Honey railed against declining standards in British schools and the poor example set by public figures, his entire address began to resemble a Blair speech, with the Prime Minister at his most messianic. Some of the perpetrators of the academic fraud of anti-grammar were "in... this... very... building"(the London University Institute of Education).
He worried for his daughter born that very morning "weighing seven pounds and sure to cost pounds 7,000 in school fees". He made a call to arms against the "enemies of Standard English". He raised his hands, he alternatively glared and smiled paternalistically at his enthusiastic audience. "Please, Mr Blair ... Please ... Mr ... Blair," he said imploringly, "watch out!" He shook his head, sadly. "Or ... doesn't ... it ... matter?"
- 2 Friends 20th anniversary: Alison Jackson photographs reunited cast
- 3 There is literally not a single woman in this iPhone 6 queue
- 4 Hitler’s former food taster reveals the horrors of the Wolf’s Lair
- 5 Scottish independence: Tory revolt against 'devo max' grows as Rail Minister Claire Perry joins
Daniele Watts: Django Unchained actress detained by Los Angeles police after being mistaken for a prostitute
Scottish independence referendum: A nation divided against itself
Scottish independence: David Cameron is becoming the 'George Bush of Britain'
Russia freezes Ukraine into submission: Kiev admits country doesn't have enough fuel for winter
Scottish independence: The Queen breaks silence on referendum debate – as think tank warns of £14bn black hole if Scotland votes Yes
Archbishop of Canterbury admits doubts about existence of God
£30000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (CIM, B2B, MS Offi...
£22000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful organisation wit...
£1 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Job Purpose To work closely with the he...
£32000 - £42000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...