Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Comparing apples and oranges

In two recent columns at the online edition of the Daily Mail, John Humphrys wrote about two seemingly unrelated topics:
(1) conditions in today’s China and (2) the appalling way English teenagers speak their language.

The second article says the young folk are not using their “full linguistic potential.”

I think they’ll be just fine. Eventually they will grow up and become contributing members of society. Not all of them, of course, but enough. Happens every generation.

But the phrase “not using their full linguistic potential” could be put to better use in the other article to describe the plight of the 1.3 billion persons living in the People’s Republic of China, where there is a decided lack of true freedom of speech despite their own protestations to the contrary. Things have greatly improved, they insist.

Great gains have been made in recent years, granted, but the authoritarian Communist rulers remain firmly in control.

For example, this world-famous photograph from 1989 is still banned in China, as is any mention of the events that occurred in and around Tiananmen Square, Beijing.

All things considered, English teenagers have things pretty good. Our Chinese friends, not so much.

[Editor's note: I created this post about a week ago, before the recent riots by young people in London and before the release of Aung San Suu Kyi after seven years of house arrest in Myanmar, but those events just underscore what I'm saying, I think. -- RWP]


Pat - Arkansas said...

I read with interest both of Humphreys' articles. Thanks for the links.

I'd comment further, but I'm not living up to my full linguistic potential this morning.

Yorkshire Pudding said...

Having spent much of my adult life in conversation with teenagers, I endorse John Humphrys's view that many modern English teenagers (...and American teenagers come to that)use our wonderful language lazily, failing to express themselves with individualistic flair or grammatical precision, preferring instead to follow the peer group crowd and adopt a clipped, estuarine version of English as subtly promoted by dubious media "stars". Hence, I wasn't sure what you were getting at with regard to that thoughtful and thought-provoking piece.

rhymeswithplague said...

Pat, the morning may be gone, but there's still the afternoon and evening.

YP, whatever.

Putz said...

i second yorkshire's opuddings's comment>>>i have always tried to be carefull in my grammer spelling puncuation etc and because of my carefullness i now have a reputation of being a scholar here in ephraim utar

rhymeswithplague said...

Putz, your teachers must be so proud.