Letter: Standard English versus the fad of linguists

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The Independent Online
Sir: May I congratulate Tony Fairman ('English, but not as we know it', 7 May) on the quality of his standard English? Clearly, he was at school before the malign grip of the 'linguists' tightened round our system. Someone was able to reach him before the exponents of 'the extraordinary variety of English grammar' took over. In the style of his letter he is as much a flat-earther as any of us. Why did he write in correct, standard English? Because he wanted to say something to us all; he wanted to have you publish his letter.

If the fad of 'linguists' were stringently exercised in our schools, no one would grow up able to communicate beyond his own region, and the regional and ethnic minorities, for whom the academics assembled in Liverpool (Letters, 1 May) were rightly anxious, would become even more isolated, the class divide ever deeper.

Flat-earthers continue to believe that the term 'linguist' applies only to those who can handle a variety of other languages - Urdu, Italian, Greek or whatever - each in its standard form. If I want my daughter to learn French, I do not send her to a remote Breton village where they speak a patois that is little understood in France. And yet, even a remote Breton village would have its village school where the aim is to teach correct, standard French.

Yours faithfully,

ANTHONY CLARK

Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire

7 May

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