Plain Language Commission . Clear English Standard

Current

  1. Subeditors a dying breed, says new website
  2. Deceptive language – food from fake farms
  3. Plain language and the courts
  4. Pikestaff 75 – read it now
  5. Garner’s Modern English Usage ‘a huge achievement’
  6. Jottings
  7. Jargon for grown-ups
  8. English to be Latin of EU?
  9. Large amount of amounts
  10. ‘The reason is because’
  11. Clichés – ‘wash down’, again
Go to archive

News & views

What’s up north

[19 Dec 2011] We talk funny up north, sometimes. We know this because when our faulty tongue is quoted in the southern press, up pops that linguistic mark of Cain, ‘[sic]’, to point out a grammatical mistake that’s not of the newspaper’s own making.

Here it is in a quote from Rebecca Leighton, the Stockport nurse released by police after being wrongly suspected of murdering patients: ‘I’d like to think that I’m a stronger person and have learnt to appreciate life more than maybe what [sic] I did before.’

The author is pointing out that ‘what’ is bad English in this position, partly because it’s redundant. But people in the north often say things like ‘He’s got less talent than what I have’ and ‘The torch what I bought you for Christmas is broke’, and children are rarely corrected in schools if they follow these patterns.

The northern actor Chelsee Healey, runner-up in ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ on Saturday, told the audience she hadn't managed to clock up the perfect 40 marks for her routines despite ‘giving it all what I’ve got to give’.

‘What’ is quite a worry word for northerners. When the comedian Ernie Wise used to speak of ‘The play what I wrote’, only half the population laughed. In large parts of the north, little Mr Wise’s little joke was just dialect, though regarded as uneducated by those who’d been schooled in standard English. [MC]

Yes, I accept the cookie. No, I decline the cookie.

clearest.co.uk would like to place a cookie on your computer to help us make this website better. To find out more about the cookies, see our privacy policy