ON dis islan, the English language is ever under siege, but surely, it is more than ever so during the season of the House. There are those in there whom I avoid like the Zika, purely in the interest of both my mental and physical health, and those to whom I listen because someone has told me, “You must listen to so and so this time,” for one reason or another. There are of course the few to whom I listen because I want to, even look forward to doing so. Generally though, my feeling is that if you’re going to continuously butcher the language, then at least redeem yourself by having something substantial and logical to deliver to those who put you where you are. Or, at the very least, if it is beyond your ability to edify us, then give us something of amusement perhaps, something to generate a few good, genuine belly laughs – not the sort of stuff which may very well produce a ‘laugh’, if not exactly the kind which does a body – or soul – any good.
But this does not happen only in the House. So, in that vein, and sticking with pronunciation for now, the examples come from media people, the police, the legal guys, the politicians, and sadly, the teachers (include principals!); well, let’s say, just about everyone who does not value correct pronunciation and who continues to indulge in their own language (which admittedly, every now and then, does bear some semblance to English), while swearing that English is their mother tongue (um, not ‘mother’s tongue’ as some offenders are wont to say).
No, it’s not, and that’s no crime, given Helen’s history, and the sooner that is understood, the better for the young ones when they enter the school system. I dared to voice this truth 37 years ago when I returned home from the East, and to encourage a second language approach to the teaching of English for the majority of our school entrants, managing to upset my small audience, comprising mainly teachers, (incidentally, no ‘of’ after ‘comprising’!) many of whom became movers and shakers in education through the intervening years. I sometimes wonder whether they have, nearly four decades on, ever had even the slightest change of heart.
So here goes: words ending in ‘nd’ preceded by a vowel, such as island, grind, find, friend, depend, husband, brigand, diamond, ground and the thousands of others are more often than not, when employed in a sentence, sounded without the terminal ‘d’. Similarly, with product, exact, react, eject, impact, affect, deduct and the thousands of others which end in ‘ct’. They are deprived of their ’t’ sound. Then there are those which end in ‘st’: therapist, tourist, must, dust, lest, cyst, best, least, waist, worst, dentist, protest, contest, overcast, finalist, cost, motorist and the thousands of others. Again, when sounded on their own, and certainly when employed within a spoken sentence, the terminal ‘t’ is omitted. What’s more, in the case of the nouns, more often than not they are written in their plural form minus the necessary ‘s’, and this in particular is also done by those who, one would have thought, should know better.
These are just a small sample of the many widespread infringements of which a whole lot of Saint Lucians are guilty, when it comes to the cold-blooded murder of the English tongue. I have a theory that, in many instances, it is due to pure laziness, because in a good number of cases, I don’t believe it to be a question of ignorance. They know, but continue to say bof and wif, faif and free, frough, youf and the big one ‘birfday’, and all the other ‘f’ sounds where a ‘th’ is called for, but totally ignored. Too lazy to change to the correct thing. Just can’t be bothered. Pretend it’s ‘cultural’… Once again, it’s the kids I feel for. I can’t help but think about those little innocents who are being infected through no fault of their own.
Finally, I think you, Mr Wayne, were being far too generous to “A Bat at Pelvis”. His really infamous language infraction, among others such as the one you spotted, has got to be his Malapropism. He is the biggest (sorry, Mr Sheridan) Mr Malaprop there is. And, as I end, just to make it altogether clear to the fans out there: Gadébyen. Mwen pa té di ‘malpwòp’, paskimwen pa konnètanyenasouzafèmisyé. Mwen pa konnètsiisémalpwòp o pa! Es zot tannsamwenka di? Alò, gadébyen. Bon!