atw: Re: Youse

I'm not so sure.  When cultures are very similar, it can be difficult to
differentiate the nuances.  I love watching English drama because they are
as dramatic as I am, but I have to confess to being particularly retarded in
gaining a grasp of the Australian culture.  I believed what Australians say
about themselves rather than observing what they actually do.  I didn't
grasp until very recently that Australians require understatement where the
English working classes revel in overstatement.  For example, "She wasn't
really very nice" means "She was bloody awful." in Australian English.
However, "She was bloody awful.", means  "She wasn't really very nice." In
English English.  

 

Don't know where this line of reasoning is going in light of your original
topic.  Clear rules would make it easier to communicate, but then again, who
follows clear rules?

 

ck

 

 

From: austechwriter-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
[mailto:austechwriter-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx] On Behalf Of Geoffrey Marnell
Sent: Wednesday, 3 February 2010 4:51 PM
To: austechwriter@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
Subject: atw: Re: Youse

 

We draw the line at common usage. How do most users of a particular dialect
(Australian English, American English or whatever) use their language. It's
as easy as that.

 

 

Geoffrey Marnell

Principal Consultant

Abelard Consulting Pty Ltd

T: +61 3 9596 3456

F: +61 3 9596 3625

W:  <http://www.abelard.com.au/> www.abelard.com.au

Skype: geoffrey.marnell

 

 

  _____  

From: austechwriter-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
[mailto:austechwriter-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx] On Behalf Of Christine Kent
Sent: Wednesday, February 03, 2010 4:43 PM
To: austechwriter@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
Subject: atw: Re: Youse

Hey Geoff

 

I'm not sure I agree with me.  Aren't you mixing up language as a tool of
intellectual communication, and as a tool of cultural identification?  (Not
strictly written and spoken.)

 

We can do what we damn well like with it in a cultural context.  Do I
remember correctly - wasn't it you telling me off for hyperbole not that
long ago? Hyperbole is one of those ruses of language that communicates more
than the words and is not intended to be taken literally.  It is common
amongst the working class English, where no-one [hyperbole] would take it
literally, but was apparently [in order to avoid hyperbole] misunderstood by
"middle class" Australians.  

 

But when it comes to "cut the wed wire after the bwack wire" we need to
agree on the grammatical structure of sentences, the meaning of words, and
pwobably the spelling.

 

Where do we draw the line?  

 

From: austechwriter-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
[mailto:austechwriter-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx] On Behalf Of Geoffrey Marnell
Sent: Wednesday, 3 February 2010 3:23 PM
To: austechwriter@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
Subject: atw: Re: Youse

 

Hi Christine,

 

Thanks for the thoughtful response, and I took no offense.

 

OK, I will accept that your refusal to use "youse" is to avoid the snobbery
of others, not an expression of your snobbery. Then why don't you join with
me in attempting to eradicate this sort of snobbery. The only way we can do
it, as far as I can see, is to get people off this odd idea that language
use can be correct or incorrect. People are going to be less likely to frown
on you and think you're a moccasin-wearing bogan if language use is at best
conventional or unconventional. The rebuke "that was unconventional" is far
less pejorative than "that was incorrect".

 

If you accept that language is a convention (which seems utterly
uncontroversial) and that conventions (as opposed to statements about
conventions) cannot be true or false, correct or incorrect, then come on
board and join the likes of me, David Crystal and many others and try to get
people to stop asking "is it wrong to hyphenate email" or "what is the
correct way to punctuate a bulleted list?" As I tried to explain to Howard
on Monday, these questions are category mistakes. The utterance "The word
"email" must be hyphenated" is on par with "Women must change their surnames
after marriage": neither true nor false, correct or incorrect. One might
call someone's action "correct" if it followed some convention, but the
convention itself is certainly not correct or incorrect.

 

The snobbery you encounter assumes otherwise. Help fight that snobbery by
challenging the Trussite pedants, which includes those who say they will
never "support" the use of "youse" no matter how well embedded it becomes in
the language.

 

Cheers

 

 

Geoffrey Marnell

Principal Consultant

Abelard Consulting Pty Ltd

T: +61 3 9596 3456

F: +61 3 9596 3625

W:  <http://www.abelard.com.au/> www.abelard.com.au

Skype: geoffrey.marnell

 

 

  _____  

From: austechwriter-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
[mailto:austechwriter-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx] On Behalf Of Christine Kent
Sent: Wednesday, February 03, 2010 10:37 AM
To: austechwriter@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
Subject: atw: Re: Youse

Please read the following as robust intellectual challenge, not person
offense either taken or intended.

 

From: austechwriter-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
[mailto:austechwriter-bounce@xxxxxxxxxxxxx] On Behalf Of Geoffrey Marnell
Sent: Wednesday, 3 February 2010 9:51 AM
To: austechwriter@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
Subject: atw: Re: Youse

 

Hi Christine,

 

Of course we use language for social purposes as well as to communicate. 

 

Curious that you think that subtle language cues do not communicate.  It is
my contention that most of our communication is done on a subtle level.

 

Christine, you can choose your words for whatever reasons you like. There
are no language police to avoid. But if you are refusing to use "youse" on
the grounds that it is the language of the semi-literate, you are
effectively looking down your nose at these folk. 

 

Wrong, I am using language to ensure that others don't look down on ME for
using this language.  I came from a Coronation Street style upbringing, and
had the advantage of being very clever and so educated out of my class.
Whether in Australia or England, it is social and career death to be
perceived as "working class".  My intelligence and obvious talents were
continually challenged because my spoken vocabulary was working class and
apparently limited.  I now deliberately maintain my blunt English working
class manner and simple Old English vocabulary, and it still gets me into a
lot of trouble.  Have you not yourself perceived my language as simplistic
rather than simple?

 

So why do we turn up our noses at the folk who got mediocre English
training, but not at those who got mediocre physics training?

 

You tell me.  The same reason we turn up our noses at the people with
physical disabilities, or any other deviation from the norm.  It is read as
a cue that, in the absence of other information, gives us a quick score card
to assess the other person against.  Don't blame me for it.  I have spent
much of my life as the victim of it, and have learned to "play the game".
Put me in elite English company, I will shut up for 2 days and only mutter a
few words when spoken to.  After two days, I have absorbed the style,
rhythm, accent and vocabulary of the language they are using and can
converse with the best of them - if I choose to do so.  That's what a
grammar school education will do for you.  Those of us on the receiving end
of discrimination, ostracised at school and university because of our social
origins, learn the art of the chameleon, and we NEVER say, "We done".

 

So why do we do this with language but not with other disciplines. I'd be
surprised if you can give me any answer other than "snobbery.

Naturally, but whether one is the giver or the receiver of the snobbery may
be a teensy weensy little bit critical.  Most of us would not say "We done
it well, did youse?" because we do not want to be on the receiving end. For
a start, it would be career death to all of us on this list.  If we want to
earn, we conform to the language straightjacket.  

 

A challenge to you Geoff, given your obvious mastery of language.  Start
using the word "youse" in ALL social situations (I won't ask you to
sacrifice your career) including family and aged relatives of all kinds, and
see what happens.  Then I would say, welcome to the real world where most of
us are the victims, not the perpetrators of the snobbery.

 

Christine

 

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