Monday, May 04, 2009

Passionate pedants

A wee discussion on pedantry vs passion almost got going t'other day but was stifled by circumstances. I'm frequently accused of pedantry in language, though my dear ami Fr Kenny enjoyed coming the pedant over my choice of the phrase 'a big ask' in a recent public utterance of mine. But in a way that moment illustrated something. Both the reverend father and myself knew what we were about in that moment, and that was right and proper in two educated people. Both of us are perfectly capable of linguistic accuracy, and both of us enjoy the humour (to us, anyway) of straying from the path.

As an English teacher it's been my job to be accurate, to be a role model for my students and to correct their errors - to reassure them that once they knew when to use "I" and when "me" they should stick to it even if their parents tried to correct them. (This has happened - several times.) I've also been able to show them how it's fine to begin a sentence with "But" if they know why their early Primary teachers told them not to. So you could say that my passion* is for the pedantry that ensures accurate English, and for the clarity of expression that accuracy can bring. Someone else might have a passion for singing in tune - and might be accused of being over-pernickity for insisting on it.

I just hope the next doctor I really need is keen on accuracy too ...

*Actually I have several passions. We'll not go into that, shall we?

1 comment:

  1. I'm all for Scottish people learning English.