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Discussion in 'The Observation Bar' started by Ticklishchap, Oct 17, 2013.
Yes, I agree, it does sound good.
I have worked in academic publishing myself and know that the 'demographic' of UK academia has changed in the past couple of decades: you are much more likely to hear 'Estuary English'! It has also become far more bureaucratic and process-driven - and I associate 'Regards' with this trend.
Which branch of the military are you in?
I don't know about that. It's certainly true that academia has become far more diverse in recent years (though still with a desperate shortage of women above the Lecturer level - not a discussion for here) and that can only be a good thing, no matter the accent or language usage that come along with that diversity. In the bad old days where everyone had the same accent and went to the same few schools, sadly a lot of the academics simply weren't very good - certainly not at the university where I did my undergraduate degree - and an awful lot of great minds were left on the scrapheap of the local Comprehensive.
You've said a lot of interesting things there and I can't resist responding. I'm very much for 'levelling up' rather than levelling down, which means that education involves acquiring a broader sense of 'culture' as well as merely learning 'facts'. And that does include learning to speak and communicate clearly. I can't help thinking that some of the 'diversity' you describe has actually brought narrower perspectives, as well as ideological fanaticism of both left and right, rather than the breadth of experience that was expected.
I can't see why it should matter so much that there is a 'shortage' of women above lecturer level. They should either get there on merit or not get there if they don't have merit. Not that I have noticed much of a shortage. On the contrary, I have noticed quite a few women appointed or promoted because of their gender rather than their ability. I have quite a lot of experience of arts and social sciences academia, having been educated to postgrad. level and worked in academic-related publishing for years before I went into the property business. One of the recent trends I find hardest to understand is the obsession with feminism. It is as if that ideology had acquired a quasi-religious status in some sections of academia so that agreement with it was almost obligatory. Very strange, as I had once thought that enlightened academic research was about the quest for truth, so that any idea could be questioned, disagreed with or refuted and none would be held up as 'sacred'.
Way off topic and I make no excuse for that, but thanks for giving me some things to think about this morning.
Speaking and communicating clearly has nothing to do with "estuary", though. Queen's English/Received Pronunciation have their own issues with clarity and ease of understanding. I had students who really believe that a drawer is spelled "draw" because they are fundamentally unable to pronounce the "er" at the end. Another example is door pronounced "daw". The laughable accent/pronunciation used by the Royals and their ilk does nothing to forward the cause of "proper' English.
It's not that female academics should be promoted per se, but that the culture within academia should not actively discourage women … and it does, quite profoundly. The level of vicious and brutal bullying of Lecturers etc. from the Chair and Dean level is really quite astonishing, and something you couldn't get away with in many industries. Sad to say, but there is a difference between a man screaming and abusing another man and the same man behaving in the same way towards a woman. At least there is a difference in the way I see the receiver of the abuse responding. For more female than male lecturers, the response is to remove themselves from the game; men seem more willing or able to take it. let's not get into the prejudice against a female academic who chooses to have a child!
I'll leave for now the issue of the hyper-competitiveness and rabidly confrontational environment of the seminar circuit - the idea that it has to be brutal to be effective; the kind of lads culture still dominant; the boozing at all levels of the hierarchy; the sexual abuse of students and junior staff. All in the name of spurious "success". Hey, if he's bringing in £2,000,000 a year, he can get away with anything …
Very interesting. Re. the English language in the UK: I certainly agree with you that the accent of the royals etc. is stilted and I would want something between that and 'estuary', something clear and pleasing to listen to.
Your account of academia doesn't fit with what I remember, at least of the social sciences side of it, although obviously I must take your word for it as you are closer to it now. I recall (in the not too distant past) a very 'politically correct' environment where support for extreme feminism was expected of both sexes and where women were often promoted simply for being female. My impression of university bureaucracies was that they were female dominated. I can also remember various somewhat simplistic obsessions with 'equality' such as 'anti-racist' campaigns where only white racism was mentioned, with no reference to, say, black on black racism in Africa or homophobic 'Dance Hall' music. Commitment to multi-culturalism was de rigeur, although the multi-culturalists got themselves tied up in knots about attitudes to women in some cultures. Which simplification would win: 'anti-racism' or 'anti-sexism'?
What I do recognise from your account, to some degree, is the 'lad' culture. I seem to recall that a lot of male academics seemed to feel that they ought to be interested in football (soccer to American readers), although what that had to do with academia I have no idea.
Abbreviations are far ruder in my opinion.
This is interesting and throws some new light on the subject for both sides of the Atlantic.
Quite. K? Thx. Bai!
...and folks round here though I was irrational in my strongly held views on short trousers...
It's also certainly true that there are 'big brands' in academia in the UK which fancy themselves world leaders, but are really coating on past reputation and doing as little in the way of teaching as possible. These tend to be places where the Old Ways are most likely to dominate. In my department, the English are actually in a minority among the academic staff. Communication has never been a problem (typically we foreigners, whether with English as a first language or no, are much more proficient in it than the natvies. ).
They even have a dialect of their own, based on their obviously limited social circles: I remember reading somewhere (I believe it was in The Times, or something similar, so there was no agenda of criticism) that Brenda speaks in private a dialect which is a hybrid of cockernee (from the servants, obviously) and upper class. Clearly the circles in which one moves daily have a very pronounced influence on one's language. I know mine has altered in fifteen years living in London. Not so much accent, I've kept mine (it helped that it's been over a decade sicne it last got me followed round shops over here, so I've not had the same motivation to tone it down that some in the past might have), but my dialect has certainly altered. I notice the difference more when among folks from the old country - I can slip back into it then easily enough, but there is a large proportion of the dialect with which I grew up that simply makes no sense to the English here, let alone those for whom English is a second language.
Interestingly, the accent used by the Sloane set may nowadays be unconscious and natural, but its origin is not. It stems, if memory serves, from the idle rich of the early Eighteenth century who had the luxury of time to develop their own way of speaking to set themselves apart, and it was as much an affectation as the Westwoodesque patois affect by so many contemporary teens in London. It will be interesting to see how the language evolves further, over time. Dialects are wodnerful and interesting - one of the great shames of our fast-shrinknig world is that many of them are being lost.
I've been veyr lucky where i am that a lot of these negative behaviours have been absent, but they certainly do go on. Frsnkly, though, I've never once encountered a woman being promoted on basis of gender, or that even being a factor, nor a race-specific approach to racism (save where a very specific problem does exist which does flow one way). I've heard the very rare complaint about both, but typically only from quarters in which "feminist" and "multicultural" had been twisted into negatives already.
I agree with you about dialects being important and valuable and think that they should be preserved. The 'Sloane' accent is often strident and unattractive, but so is the very whiny and mechanical sounding 'Estuary English' and the various forms of sloppy speech that have become all-too frequent. Good clear English, regardless of accent, is what should be taught, and dialects should be preserved so that those lucky enough to have them can be 'bilingual'.
As for 'multi-culturalism' and feminism, I am glad I live in a society where there are many different cultures and influences, from which I can draw inspiration. In other words, I like the idea of a multicultural society that evolves organically. Feminism in its present form is often negative and divisive ('IMHO'!): I prefer the idea of a complimentary yin/yang interaction between masculine and feminine to drab inter-changeability. I also note that feminism is highly biased towards privileged (mostly white) career women with working-class women treated by as servants and child-minders, without even the paternalism of Downton Abbey!
Another thing that I find annoying is the use of the world "So" in the wrong context, for example when someone is being interviewed on the radio or television. When asked a question, the interviewee starts the the reply with "So", just to start off their reply, it just does not correct. Another thing that annoys me is when a Railway Station is called a train station, again to me it does not seem correct. These are perhaps me just being picky. Mind you my grammar and spelling is probably is not as good as it should be.
Yes I like to hear the various regional accents and dialects that we are lucky enough to have here in the UK. We have so many.
Think of it what you may, but I use "sincerely," or "sincerely yours," most of the time. I think these signatures are polite and professional, using them just about anytime in emails and letters. I could understand why "regards" itself is awfully plain, as it seems more commonly used, with less meaning attached. "Warmest/Kind/Best regards" seem to be friendlier variants.
Dear Ticklish, as you seem to be a chap who is rather exercised about the niceties of communication I should perhaps point out to you that what you mean here is "complementary" . I have no wish to sound pedantic, this is merely to help you avoid this solecism in the future... rather less significantly yin/yang should logically be rendered feminine/masculine.
Another trip of words that are often used out of context are "Cool" , "Like" and "Literally" I am sure that you will know what I mean.
I agree. I meant complementary and I know that yin/yang should logically be rendered feminine/masculine! And I used to do proof-reading every day - clearly out of practice!!!
Or people who say 'yourself' when they mean simply 'you'.
Regards is just so Blah!! cheers is also very blah too (I see it too much).
another thing I hate hearing, Usually in person is "Have a good one" used way to often by many factions, esp younger checkout people at various retail establishments.