Yeah but, no but

Research has confirmed that you’re all a bunch of inarticulate slobs.

It must be true, it says it in all the papers and everyfink. See here or here or here or, ohhhww, wha’evahh.

I picked up on this story from the teacher blog that inspired me to start this. As he asked, can you string together a sentence well enough to respond?

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This entry was posted in Attitudes to Language, ENB1 & NA3M - Speech. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Yeah but, no but

  1. annelise says:

    This topic i do feel strongly about, and i do feel it is generalisng us in an unfair way; not all teenagers are inarticulate, look at me, im never short of a few words to say. These statisitics they refer to, i feel unfairly represent the tyouth of today as they take into account all of the youths, and therefore allowing people to paint us all with the same brush. If it is true that we are a ‘bunch of inarticulate slobs,’ and people our age are not using a variety of language then the older people (‘the more well spoken’) should take it upon themselves to teach us teenagers better language and vocabulary if they feel so strongly about it, instead of sitting around, observing, moaning and dragging together a few statistics to verify their point; which is of no real benefit to them in taking action to solve the ‘problem.’
    All in all it is just a few old people coming together and trying to pick out another problem with teenagers, and now we apparently can’t express ourselves without criticism. It is about time we are given more credit, and to say we are so inarticulate it seems exams resutls are improving by the year.
    Have i managed to string together enough words? 🙂

  2. Mr Heald says:

    A spirited defence, Annelise: I expected no less.

    Right, let’s strip away the sensationalist Little Britain angle that the journalists felt obliged to take. What about the core finding of the research which seems to be this:

    “Lancaster University’s Professor Tony McEnery who conducted the research said vocabulary size was defined early on.His study of blogs, questionnaires and speech found teenagers used half the words of average 25 to 34-year-olds. His analysis of a database of teenage speech suggested teenagers had a vocabulary of just over 12,600 words compared with the nearly 21,400 words that the average person aged 25 to 34 uses.”

    Taking out the emotive way this research was reported, what do you think of the findings?

  3. Danielle says:

    I find it quite ironic that The Sun chooses to print the story of a Vicky Pollard generation – after all you only need to be aged 8 to understand the contents of that newspaper.

    *Prof Tony McEnery, who also looked at 100,000 written chats from kids’ blogs, said: “I was struck by how accurate the Vicky Pollard stereotype is.”*

    First of all, if he’s looking at KID’S BLOGS what is he going to expect? That we all write to each other formally? I’m sorry but that isn’t a very good research area, why doesn’t he look at other valid areas rather than an obvious place for the usage of ‘lol’ I understand that blogs allow us to communicate with others so the language we would use would be aimed at a younger audience, but still, there’s no point in declaring that we’re all incapable of speaking ‘correctly’

    I do find the statistics shocking, but as we grow older we pick up more and more vocab, for instance, after call my bluff i now know what a ledgit is! So there’s no point in saying that because we can’t speak with an expansive vocab now, we never will!!

    So that’s my rant of the day – but am i allowed to say ‘rant’ or would that mean i am one of the thousands that are inarticulate?

  4. Tonia says:

    It’s fuckin stupid innit? i can speak proper like but at end o day like i cant be arsed but it dunt mek me stupid does it? thats rate annoyed me now. ill fuckin go round that guys house and fuckin smash his face in innit! and ill get me bruvvas and me cousins an that to go round and ill show him that we can do more than string sentences, ill string his fucking face in! yeah mate!

    Right, *back to normal Antonia mode* That paragraph above is what i think that Tony McErny thinks we all talk like and to a certain extent i understand that at our age we don’t speak with as much eloquence as older generations, partly due to the fact that we are being brought up differently and taught differently but i’d also like to point out that we do have the entire english language to learn here and 25 year olds have had 8 more years practice and experience than us and therefore can we really be expected to be at the same standard as them?

    He would have been much better doing a long term study and measuring our vocabulary now and then again at 25 to see the difference in comparison to previous 25 year olds. The fact that he chose childrens blogs is ridiculous, why didn’t he take coursework from GCSE or A level english groups because this surely would show off the true extent of our vocabulary better than a badly worded casual blog!

    I may not be as articulate as some people my age but i would never class myself as inarticulate or a slob. That is all.

    Actually, is there anyway we (we meaning our english language class) can get in touch with this Erny guy or the other one and put our rants forward eloquently? 😀 i’d love to “string his fucking face in” – metophorically of course.

  5. Mr Heald says:

    It’s great to see some spirited and thoughtful responses emerging to this. If you take the articles at face value, you may well be right to be enraged and want to ‘string his f***ing face in’ (Incidentally the phrasal verb ‘to string X in’ is a new one to me. Is it in common use?)

    Your point, Antonia, about the need for a longitudinal study to provide more reliable data is an excellent one. Danielle, I appreciate your comment on the irony of The Sun’s reporting, and the common sense observation that vocabulary increases with time. Of course; and isn’t it interesting that none of the articles pick up on this obvious issue? It’s also striking that they emphasise so much the 100,000 written chats from kids’ blogs rather than the 10,000,000 words of transcribed speech that formed the bulk of his data.

    I do hope that none of you thought that I personally was suggesting you were inarticulate slobs. I hope you picked up on the irony of my ‘it must be true, it says it in all the papers’ comment. The fact is that just as we need to be taught about English grammar and vocabulary and so on, so we need to be taught reading, writing and speaking & listening skills. The research seems to suggest that the latter perhaps have been neglected relative to the former. But among the reading skills you need to learn is how to interpret and evaluate information from a range of sources, and to consider (pragmatics, this) the agenda behind the text.

    Before you start laying in to Tony McEnery, I suggest you consider to what extent you think a short report in a newspaper is likely to be an accurate and balanced reflection of what may have been a very lengthy research study.

    I strongly recommend that you read this entry on the Language Log, and this one, that includes a response from Tony McEnery which gives a very intriguing perspective on the way that the media report academic research, and this one that shows what nonsense it is to find it shocking that “the top 20 words used, including yeah, no, but and like, account for around a third of all words” used.

    And if you still want to get in touch with Tony McEnery, you are at liberty to do so. His email address is on his homepage at Lancaster University: here.

  6. Megan says:

    I know I’m not the most ‘articulate’ teenager, in fact I would say myself that I am rather common.

    However…. I would not call myself a ‘slob’ I dont have a problem calling myself common (I am actually quite proud of my broad yorkshire roots)but this is different from being a ‘slob’

    ‘slob’ implies laziness indifference and even ignorance. A student these days cannot afford to be a ‘slob’ There is, or shouldn’t be a link between how you speak and how you act as a young person.

    In this fast-moving multi cultural nation it is difficult to pin down a ‘correct’ or ‘right’ language…according to who..? I’m pretty sure my parents didn’t speak the way my grandparents wanted them to speech.

    We re all going to hell in a hand-cart…!

    Sorry i took so long to join your blog Sir, but i thoroughly enjoyed this. will be sure to write again soon. we cant let the year 12’s have all the fun….

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