Article on comments made by actress Emma Thompson on misuse of English language.
Level: Intermediate +
Contributed by: Sean Banville - find Sean's websites at: www.freeeslmaterials.com
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British Actress Attacks English Slang
British Oscar-winning actress Emma Thompson has hit out at the slang used by her compatriots. The star of Harry Potter and Nanny McPhee movies told the British magazine Radio Times that she thought too many people in Britain didn’t speak properly. She said a lot of the language she heard on the streets made people sound stupid. In particular, the phrases “innit” and “ain’t” drove her insane. “Innit” started off as a variation of “isn’t it” but is now used to replace a whole variety of tag questions, ranging from “wasn’t it” to “don’t we” and “won’t I”. She made her comments after visiting her old high school. She told the students not to use slang so much, “because it makes you sound stupid and you're not stupid”.
Ms Thompson told her interviewer she thought people needed to rethink how important correct grammar and language are. She said: "We have to reinvest, I think, in the idea of articulacy as a form of personal human freedom and power.” She didn’t say people should not use slang, but they should remember where and when to use it: "There is the necessity to have two languages – one that you use with your mates and the other that you need in any official capacity. Or you're going to sound like [an idiot]," she said. Language experts say Thompson’s rant was an attack on “teenspeak,” which has developed through text messaging and social networking sites. Many parents say they don’t understand their children.