Wednesday January 25, 2012
Don’t let English die
I’M a 73-year-old Englishman, despite my Malay name, and from time to time I like to read the items in Mind Our English. Although I consider I speak my language correctly, I’m happy to brush up on grammatical points that I may have forgotten in a city like Sungai Petani, Kedah, where English isn’t too common.
I’m old-fashioned apparently in the way I spell (and pronounce) words as people in my part of the world used to spell them. I still spell words like “to-day” and “to-night” although the hyphen seems to have vanished these days. I still use “whom” now and feel that it’ll disappear from the English language very soon. I still use “lie” when asking a child to lie down, the objective (or accusative) case of a personal pronoun after a preposition and the subjunctive mood correctly.
I remember months ago writing to someone in your area who stated she was a teacher and I said that I hoped that English wasn’t one of her classes as she wrote something like: “A friend told my husband and I (something).” In other words, “A friend told I.” It’s a common mistake even amongst native English speakers. It reminds me of a comical song from Somerset in England called: Don’t tell I, tell (h)e.
Now to MOE (Dec 12, 2010). A reader asked about using “were” instead of “was” and the answer was a good explanation of the subjunctive mood affecting the verb “to be”. Great. However, elsewhere in the column, the teacher wrote: “If there was no inversion ...” Whoops! Sorry for being a smarty pants! I’m not trying to be clever. I enjoy reading MOE.
How’s this for English? When I was working with the Royal Air Force at Butterworth, a senior storeman came to me with a parcel saying: “Excuse me Cpl Zainol, this parcel has just arrived from Australia but I do not know for whom it is.” It made me think.
Keep up the good work and don’t use words like “wanna” and “gonna”. Where on earth did they come from? – Zainol Abdullah