It’s all getting too much. Looking back on my school days, I do recall having a genuine interest in words and how best to construct them in order to communicate clearly; though I doubt I’d have defined my interest in those terms at the time. At secondary school, while English Literature and English Grammar were still two separate subjects, they weren’t given the priority of, say, Maths or Physics. To have made the most of my interest, to have nurtured it, I really needed a grammar school but my Eleven-plus exam failure effectively put an end to that avenue of possibility and consigned me to a secondary, and indeed second-rate, education. It’s true I could have taken steps to remedy that situation but I was, as I now realise, a grazer, one of the crowd, a lemming. So I did nothing and my interest waned. I did nothing and my capacity to record structured, organised and concise thought slowing diminished. I did nothing and so let a precious, precious gift slip from my grasp. I did nothing, and one of the few latin expressions I know now seems eminently appropriate: Mea Culpa.
But all these years on I’m surprised to find my interest rekindled. I want to write, actually feel a compulsion to write, though I now realise that the act of constructing a simple sentence that makes clear sense is far from a simple matter. It takes effort, scrutiny and purpose. And there are rules – rules to be observed. Rules to be either followed or broken, but only within a deliberate framework – that’s another rule then. Structure and precision are becoming an obsession. Meanwhile, and this is so infuriating, even my ability to spell is being systematically undermined by f**king American spellcheckers querying and correcting perfectly good English; sorry, ‘British English’. Perfectly good English is now by default ‘American English’, plagued as it is by a dearth of U’s and a plethora of Zs. This is not intended as a general criticism of my cousins across the Atlantic, but the language that separates us is even more a ‘common’ barrier than G B Shaw alluded. I love English, but it’s the English of my country. I love the way it constantly adapts and evolves, I love it’s vibrancy. I’m happy to see new words, new meanings and, yes, new spellings evolve. What I don’t want is a host of vapid americanisms foisted on me as a perpetual default by arrogant ill-informed dictionaries and spell checkers.
Look at it this way: let’s suppose, for the sake of argument, that the father of modern computing was a Brit. Ah, wait – Alan Turing. Okay, bad example. Alright then, let’s say that the acknowledged inventor of the World Wide Web was a Brit. Oh. Tim Berners-Lee; another bad example and, yes; I know I’m irritating. Wait…got it! Let’s say Messrs Jobs and Wozniak had founded Apple, not in California, but in Bristol. How would YOU react to having color corrected to colour, labor to labour, realize to realise, etcetera etcetera, ad nauseum? It’s true that many well constructed programmes have excellent country-specific versions or ‘localisations’, sorry – ‘localizations’, but many more don’t, and I find that an appalling omission given how far the rest of computing technology has advanced over, say, the last fifteen years.
Note: I’ve corrected ‘localisations’ as it is now underlined with red dashes, indicating, of course, a spelling error. ARGGGGGH!
Rant over - cathartic but otherwise completely ineffective