atw: Re: Youse

  • From: "Christine Kent" <cmkentau@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <austechwriter@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Wed, 3 Feb 2010 10:37:09 +1100

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.




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