Sometimes I think it is just me because I haven't been influenced by children who bring things other than germs home from school. Or is it because, having worked in the computer industry for 30-odd years, I'm no longer impressed by technological gadgets?
Don't get me wrong, I think the technology is fascinating but I don't want it to tell me what to do and I prefer to do it manually anyway. I have to acknowledge that I'm typing this on a computer, which makes me wonder whether I'd still be able to get ribbons for the IBM Selectric I was tempted to "souvenir" many moons ago. I used to take so much pride in my box of golf balls, too, and the power one got from unclipping one and popping another one in and seeing the immediate change of font.
I digress. What worries me is the sloppy use of the English language and the way the Australian idiom is slowly but surely being overrun by slang and grammar from other cultures. Mainly the American one. This is not an attack on Americans – it's a plea to Australians to take pride in our own culture and to retain the things that make us attractive to other cultures. More startling to me is the fact that our national broadcaster has also adopted the foreign language, or allowed it to infiltrate. I have heard young reporters use words and phrases such as "oftentimes", "in the next several years", "gotten", "on Collins Street", "on scene".
I just had a thought. Perhaps people aren't changing the spell check on their devices to Australian English? Perhaps those in the education industry aren't as concerned about retaining our nationality as the older generation is?
You'll notice my reference to "on scene". Is this an example of the preposition going the way of the apostrophe? Sometimes I feel as though I'm watching an episode of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation. I guess it's just a matter of time before we start hearing criminal suspects referred to "unsubs". It took me a while to figure out what they were saying but the old brain figured it out. I just went to the television to check on the name of the show I wanted to use and during an article on ABC 24, the reporter referred to a dwarf as a "de-warf". What is going on? Which reminds me, sports commentators need to realise there is only one 'e' between 'd' and 'f' in the word “defence”.
Our speech seems to be becoming quite formal as well. In the past we would ask, "What's happening?" Now it's more common to hear, "What's occurring?". Also, when I hear a report about an event happening "on Collins Street", for example, I have images of things lying all over the street. It should be "in" Collins Street. Am I being too picky?
While I'm at it, why do some female politicians (and male politicians) think they should kiss the other on the cheek as a form of greeting? Kissing is a personal greeting, unless it is the custom of the country's culture, as in many European countries where both female and male kiss each other on the cheek. We don't have that custom in Australia and I much prefer a warm handshake to some stranger advancing towards me with puckered lips.
A couple of annoyances to finish off with. Quite often callers to talkback radio say "Thank you for taking my call". If they didn't call the radio, they would not have a program, so the radio commentator should be thanking the caller, not the other way around.
To all politicians out there, unless you are elected into office with 100 per cent of the vote, you are not in a position to speak on behalf of all Australians. I will let you know when I have something to say that I would like announced to the nation, thank you very much.
Thank you for listening and if there is something out there that annoys you, tell someone. Silence is approval. If you don't say something you are endorsing what is being said or done. May I leave you with an article from a 1916 newspaper which shows the full use of the English language in all its glory? Pictures were not available at the time, so words had to be descriptive.
"The registered grounds of the Wonthaggi Gun Club was the subject of an unreasonable and contemptible onslaught recently, which means a substantial loss to the club. About 130yds. of wire netting and some posts and railing were maliciously torn asunder and carried away. The insignificant species of humanity who is responsible for this miserable petty theft is unworthy the name of man, and if traced will be brought to bear the responsibilities of his hideous action. The matter has been reported to the police, who will take active steps towards effecting the capture of such miserable and contemptible creatures."
Finally, in the words of Miriam Margolyes, English-born actor and new Australian on January 26, 2013: "One of the dangers of modern life is that we don't think about words any more. Words are the currency of thought, and when we don't use them, we stop thinking."