BBC Radio 4 Extra : Many a Slip

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BBC Radio 4 Extra : Many a Slip

Post by tony h » Sun Apr 01, 2018 7:07 pm

For those of you who can get Radio 4 Extra the classic from years ago Many A Slip is available.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b09tc7w5
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With the right context almost anything can sound appropriate.

Re: BBC Radio 4 Extra : Many a Slip

Post by Erik_Kowal » Wed Apr 04, 2018 2:21 am

I heard a lot of 'Many a Slip' when the episodes were first broadcast back in the 1970s.

The URLs on your linked-to page were like a time machine transporting you back to an era of humorous nitpickery and punctilious enunciation that I look back on with a mixture of nostalgia plus relief that we're a bit more laid-back today. I'm glad that BBC English no longer represents the indispensable standard one has to meet in order not to be regarded as a hopelessly unintelligible, uncivilised yokel.
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Re: BBC Radio 4 Extra : Many a Slip

Post by tony h » Fri Apr 06, 2018 3:59 pm

@erik_kowal I partially agree with your sentiments but I can't help thinking we (in the UK) are missing out on not having a standard pronunciation available as support to our local differences. When I go abroad to countries where English is taught as a second language I am impressed by the uniformity and precision of their speech. I don't hear poor diction, the finks an ves that are so common and cause so many problems in spelling and communications. And, not being given the opportunity to know it can really hold people back from promotion.

PS as in: I fink ve car is ...
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Re: BBC Radio 4 Extra : Many a Slip

Post by Erik_Kowal » Fri Apr 06, 2018 11:19 pm

Well, we do still have a more-or-less standard pronunciation, insofar as what you might call 'BBC English' remains front and centre in Britain's broadcast media. But what we don't have any more is the kind of rigid rule that at one time barred anyone who didn't speak with Received Pronunciation from getting on the air at all.
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Re: BBC Radio 4 Extra : Many a Slip

Post by BonnieL » Sat Apr 07, 2018 4:02 am

For those of us in the US, a little more BBC wouldn't hurt! We've noticed that upper class, presumably educated characters are easier to understand than the lower classes. I remember seeing an actor as a lower class character, and in another show as an upper class type. It was so much easier to understand him in the latter role.
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Re: BBC Radio 4 Extra : Many a Slip

Post by tony h » Sat Apr 07, 2018 3:19 pm

BonnieL wrote:
Sat Apr 07, 2018 4:02 am
For those of us in the US, a little more BBC wouldn't hurt! We've noticed that upper class, presumably educated characters are easier to understand than the lower classes. I remember seeing an actor as a lower class character, and in another show as an upper class type. It was so much easier to understand him in the latter role.
It is the same in life. Which is why I favour teaching in a "standard English". It is the same principle as having a School Uniform - it helps to hide the class divide - not completely but it helps.
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Re: BBC Radio 4 Extra : Many a Slip

Post by Phil White » Mon Apr 09, 2018 9:29 pm

How my world has changed!

I used to revel in beating the buzzers way back then. Now? Quite frankly, it makes me squirm. There is something horribly patronizing about it. "Do eat up your six o'clock news, dear. Otherwise you will grow up into one of those frightful people who cannot correctly distinguish between 'mitigate' and 'militate'."
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Non sum felix lepus

Re: BBC Radio 4 Extra : Many a Slip

Post by tony h » Fri Apr 13, 2018 7:55 pm

Isn't it more patronising to say "It's all right you don't need to know the difference between 'mitigate' and 'militate'. Leave that to the lawyers and just sign here."

People should have the opportunity to learn. Here, with no requirement to buy books, were programmes that were available free of charge to anyone who wanted to improve their knowledge of language irrespective of personal background. And many did. I have come across many, from all over the world, who slid effortlessly into work having deliberately mimicked the BBC and white washed their background. And that is a precious gift, I have a photograph of a great grandmother of mine and her sisters attending a new school for women and so were to break the illiteracy of the previous generations. They would have loved such education to be available.

And what does your comment say about those who accidentally were brought up speaking that way? What if the BBC were not based in London? If a "Lord Reith" and the BBC had been based in Glasgow, Bombay or say Liverpool? Would you say that Liverpudlians were condescending in their speech simply from the accident of their birth? Personally I have had to downplay my natural speech as it has landed me in trouble, once ending up in hospital for a few days as someone I didn't know took a few swipes at me for being toffee-nosed.

I didn't realise that I felt so strongly about this. Today "entertainment" seems to be a stream of comedians making jokes belittling anything anyone is trying to do. Enough said ... I could go on! To me programmes live "Many a Slip" were just people having fun with English and allowing the listeners to join in the fun. I thank them for it.
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Re: BBC Radio 4 Extra : Many a Slip

Post by Erik_Kowal » Fri Apr 13, 2018 11:28 pm

I think what's being said here is all rooted in our agreement that it is not a good thing when people are discriminated against simply because of how they speak. But our responses to this state of affairs differ:

You, Tony, feel that speakers of English should not have obstacles placed in the path of whatever attempt they make to modify their natural speech patterns to conform to what the wider society has decided is the desirable norm in terms of how we communicate in our professional lives. The aim here is that they should not be held back because other people regard the English they speak as substandard or in some other way non-conforming.

Phil and I, on the other hand, both appear to agree that it is a good thing that speaking a regional variant of English besides the regional variant of it that coincides with what roughly equates to Standard English is today much less of an obstacle to individual advancement than it used to be in the days when the BBC set a de facto standard for people to aim at which then became regarded more widely in society as a proxy for being well educated and 'fitting in' — and not just within the BBC. Phil went a bit further than I did by mocking the artificiality of that standard.

This seems to boil down to the question of whether it is preferable to discourage and dismantle linguistically-based discrimination, or to give regional speakers the help they need (in whatever form it takes) that will enable them to match the criteria of acceptability implicitly set by Standard (or BBC) English. I don't see these emphases as being mutually exclusive: both are possible, though I think it's fair to say that there will always be a degree of tension between these opposing emphases.
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Re: BBC Radio 4 Extra : Many a Slip

Post by tony h » Thu Apr 19, 2018 9:04 pm

The other day, whilst waiting for a lift home from hospital, I was replying to this when I had another collapse and went straight back up to the ward. I hope to get to the end of it today. But there is another observation to make.

I was waiting in urology this morning when this chap started complaining that he had been seen and he had been waiting for over an hour. A discussion went on - "we don't seem to have you down. What clinic is it?" "Urology", he said. A few more checks "no not here. I'll check other clinics". ... "Ah you are supposed to be in neurology." "That's what I said - urology." "No you want NURology this is Urology." "Oh I didn't know there was a difference." The stifled laughter was painful to hear.

And thank you Erik for your measured response. I suppose I see "standard English" and it's simplified variant "International English" as a passport to knowledge and freedom, a lingua Franca. Much like Latin 250 years ago. I am not saying people should throw away their local variants but that they should have the ability to hear and learn a standard form. Just in the same way that other cultures are learning English to compete on the world stage and have access to knowledge.

Coincidentally, this was on Radio4Extra the other day and it is extraordinary. I would recommend anyone to listen to the end - it makes you realise just how luck we are to speak English so well. As well as an peculiarly Indian benefit to using English. That is: English is casteless, whereas Indian languages have caste embedded into the nouns and verbs. So in using English you automatically level the playing field.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01p0hj6

PS my only comment on the above is that Hindi and English are both the Official language of India. It seems to imply that Hindi is the only one.

I supposed I am just rather saddened that everything in the media seems to be to do down our history, to be embarrassed by our past and to mock and laugh at people - and get paid more for doing it. We should be proud of achievements and to celebrate our country. Or are we to say to every new born white child "yours must be a life of penance for the work of your ancestors". And in this I relish the opportunities my facility with English, which is only as a grain in Phil's sugar bowl, has given me and I would be proud to hand that on to all.
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With the right context almost anything can sound appropriate.

End of topic.
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