Lack of interest spells the end for the Queen's English Society


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The Independent Online

The Queen's English Society, which has railed against the misuse and deterioration of the English language, is to fold.

For 40 years the society has championed good English – and hasn't been above the occasional criticism of the Monarch's own standards of speech – but has finally conceded it cannot survive in the era of text speak and Twitter.

Having attempted to identify a role for the society and its magazine Quest "for the next 40 years", chairman Rhea Williams decided it was time to close down.

She announced the demise of the organisation in a terse message to members after the annual meeting, which just 22 people attended.

"Despite the sending out of a request for nominations for chairman, vice-chairman, administrator, web master, and membership secretary no one came forward to fill any role," she said.

"So I have to inform you that QES will no longer exist. There will be one more Quest then all activity will cease and the society will be wound up. The effective date will be 30 June 2012."

She said it was sad the society was to close but added that the difficulty in getting people to take on roles was a problem also experienced by other groups across the UK.

"Things change, people change," she said. "People care about different things. If you look at lots of societies, lots of them are having problems. Lives have changed dramatically over the last 40 years. People don't want to join societies like they used to."

Gyles Brandreth, the society's patron and a celebrity polymath, insisted that despite the closure "the Queen's English isn't under threat. Her Majesty can sleep easy. The language is still in the good hands of all the people who speak good English."

He described the members and organisers of the society as "a group of enthusiasts celebrating the richness and diversity of the English language" and is convinced that whether or not enough volunteers can be found to keep the society going, their enthusiasm and love for good English will live on.

The closure followed a setback this year when the society's plans for an Academy of Contemporary English collapsed. One of the society's biggest achievements was in helping to shape the spelling, punctuation and grammar elements of English in the national curriculum.

Queen's English Society: common complaints

* Missing and wrongly used apostrophes

* Overuse of exclamation marks

* Adjectives used as adverbs

* 'More' used with the comparative. Eg more sweeter

* Incorrect forms of verbs, eg snuck (as in 'snuck in').

* American spell checks

* Failure to start sentences with a capital letter and end them with a full point.

* Misspelling of common words

* Confusion between same-sounding words – their/there licence/license

* Misuse of semicolons