Wednesday, 6 June 2012

The 'G word'

It was while I was securing my bunting to the hedge and planting my red, white and blue flowers that I started to list all the things I appreciate about being British. Of course a cup of tea is number one, although it has to be made as Brown Owl taught me and no doubt approved of by my village WI. Then there is the way we can have a conversation with anyone as long as we begin with the weather. Not only are we preoccupied with it, but we brave the elements in a way that is verging towards perverse. I fine example of this being that group of vocalists, at the Jubilee Pageant, heartily 'lunging it' for Her Majesty whilst risking death by rain.

Then of course it is not long before I consider the rich diversity of the English language which then leads me rather swiftly to my pet 'dislike' at the moment. It is beginning to become one of those irritations that might lead to a full-on heckle one day. Every so often I begin to twitch when a certain ugly Americanism is used, referring to me as part of a collective, and if it is used more than once then I positively steam under my cardigan. It happens in church, it happens in school and now I hear it has happened on the BBC, from the spokesperson for 'Queen's English' no less when she was talking about the media; she called them 'guys' - aagghh! Since when have I become a 'guy'? Not only am I female, but surely this term is the male equivalent to 'gal' or 'doll'. Whatever happened to 'folks' or even plain 'everyone'? Such bliss to be included in a group of everyone....

Last year my pet hate was the amount of 'likes' said instead of 'um'. In presentation assessments from a group of AS students, out of around 32 students not one managed a two-minute speech without a 'like', and the record of 'likes' in one speech was in the mid-thirties (no joke). It has become a generational speech impediment!

Thankfully, I think we have moved away from 'wicked', which was all very silly really, along with displaying underpants - although a few Cornish boys haven't quite caught up with the rest of UK culture yet (bless).

And we now have 'yeh, yeh, yeh' which needs to be said with rapid fire all on the same note. Why can't we just let our yes be yes and our no be no? What does this need to emphasise an affirmative mean?

But going back to the word 'Guys',  don't we put him on the bonfire? So not only does this word have gendered connotations it has religious and political ones too. But to top the list of reasons not to use the word is that it is simply far too cheesy. Fair enough if you are an American cartoon character who needs to gather a group together it might  be acceptable, passably, but only just. I have to say that I am a bit of an expert when it comes to gathering groups of people together: Year 8s, 9s, 11s, 12s and 13s to be precise. Needless to say I NEVER use the word 'guys' and have managed quite successfully to gather hundreds of individuals without uttering the 'G word' once.

So hopefully, the need to address us as male Americans will soon pass and like crimplene flares and Spandau Ballet blouses will become a thing of our cultural past and a mere mention in a Bill Bryson book.