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Proper English key to acceptance


MICHAEL MOSELEY

Proper English key to acceptance

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IT MADE ME very sad when I heard, not too long ago, ambassador Robert “Bobby” Morris lamenting that the folks at the upper echelons of Barbadian society do not and will not accept poor people as equals.

Even those people from the working class who have risen to positions of prominence by dint of demeaning and painful exertion and discipline. Even when those people are awarded official accolades and promotion. But no one should really be surprised at this because of one reason above all else.

Many proletarian social climbers do not seem to recognise one very important fact. As long as they do not police their own spoken and written expression to an adequate level, “bougoise” society will never genuinely accept them as equals.

What the “upper middle class” and the “upper class” say to one’s face stands always in stark contrast to what they say in their own company.

My late father, Harley S. L. Moseley, Queen’s Counsel, came from a poor family. Driven by a burning ambition to succeed and excel, he forced himself by the application of sheer willpower to perform well at Combermere, Harrison College and Codrington College. He was then able to attend Magdalen College at Oxford University and Durham University in the United Kingdom.

He daily hobnobbed and interacted with the most conscientious speakers of the English language. And of course, his tutors were every bit, if not more, fastidious where grammar and pronunciation were concerned.

I have come to realise over the years that in my own social intercourse with all kinds of people, I have been too extreme and insistent in my efforts to encourage people to speak and write proper English. And to render a much higher level of pronunciation as well.

But if we proletarian (proletarian at least in spirit) folk want to be accepted, it is absolutely necessary to be more precise, more careful, and to exert more effort where language is concerned. At least where it is really necessary.

I do not expect the same degree of precision and correctness (to say the least) from people who have to concentrate on properly facing some of the harsh realities of life. I would expect more from more formally educated and usually more comfortable, and better positioned folks.

I am not asking anyone to kill themselves when it comes to rendering an acceptable level of proper English. I do not want anybody to get tongue-tied. All that I am asking is to try harder sometimes.

– MICHAEL MOSELEY

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