Thursday, June 30, 2016

Boris and I

Boris Johnson in his speech this morning in which he announced he would not run for the top job, concluded with this:

..... I have concluded that person cannot be me.

What at all are grammar classes like at Eton?

4 comments:

Stephan said...

Give poor Boris a break, he has been very tired this week...https://twitter.com/SamCoatesTimes/status/747738039183642625?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw

Francis Hunt said...

In so far as he has to make a living, Johnson is a journalist, which means that he should take grammar seriously. And I'm sure he must have learned at some stage that "the verb to be never takes an object." Still, grammar isn't something completely static - it evolves continually with use, and colloquially, particularly in the case of personal pronouns, the accusative case is frequently used after the verb "to be." "I have concluded that that person cannot be I," might be the most perfect rendition for a grammar Nazi, but it sounds just a little pretentious.

Michael Commane said...

Point taken. But a 'grammar Nazi'?

Say a person on radio with a strong local accent repeatedly says "I done that ...." All the tut-tutting that would be done. On the other hand, the confusion of cases with the personal pronoun is accepted. Why? Maybe because the middle classes make the mistake. But using the wrong form of the past participle of the verb 'to do' is more a working class error. And that can never be accepted.

Comment?

Francis Hunt said...

:-) The term "Grammar Nazi" is frequently used (particularly in on-line discussions) to describe someone who "believes it's their duty to attempt to correct any grammar and/or spelling mistakes they observe."

Your observation on class is interesting. The American equivalent to "I done ... " is "I seen ...". Of course, in this context, class is generally closely related to educational level - people with a "middle class" background will generally have attended school longer and have often some kind of third level qualification (though this, frighteningly, does not always mean secure grammatical competence).

There is also the case of aggressively ignoring grammatical rules in order to claim some kind of working class credibility. The most notorious example of this kind of thing is probably the famous self-congratulatory headline in the English tabloid in April 1992 after the Conservatives won the general election, "It's the Sun wot won it."