Sunday, 5 June 2011

It used not to be like that, usen't it not to be?

There has been much huffing and puffing about the inclusion of such words as thang, blingy and tik (methamphetamine) in the latest Collins "official" list of Scrabble words, but of course this is a matter of total indifference except to those daft enough to play Scrabble with people who take the game so seriously that they will pay £16.99 for the book.

Real dictionaries have detailed criteria for the acceptance of new words rather than depending on mere editorial whim. The realest of them all, the OED, accepted for inclusion this year (for example) LOL, couch surfer, fnarr fnarr and OMG (about time too; this one's nearly a hundred years old).

But not yet innit. This, though, is only a question of time, for it is unquestionably in sufficiently wide and probably permanent currency to warrant inclusion, and certainly fills a lacuna in our language: we have no invariant tag other than the crude eh? or huh? enabling us to ask for the agreement of the listener, and have to use a huge number (pity the poor foreign student of English!) of clumsy phrases like don't you? or shouldn't we?. But innit, which is a rather neat contraction of Is it not so?, can be used in any context, being the equivalent of n'est ce pas?, ¿verdad? or nicht wahr?

So we should all start using it now, without waiting for the OED to catch up, innit?

9 comments:

Grumio said...

Down in the former colonies, specifically Singapore, they use a similar universal for the response. That is "Is it?" is considered the universal call for confirmation, howsoever the original statement is phrased:

"It is twice the size of George's"
"Is it?"

"I try never to mention it"
"Is it?"

"He never mentions it either"
"Is it?"

"Well, a friend wouldn't mention such a thing, innit?"
"No. Mortgages are a private matter".

Tony said...

Thank you very much

Huw said...

And in certain principalities, they have:
"Bronwen's got a lovely pair, isn'it?"

agrey said...

Hi Tony - you might enjoy this :
http://amandagrey.blogspirit.com/archive/2011/06/06/ce-que-disent-les-anglais.html

PJ Tafka said...

I thought that in Singapore they also use a rising tone musical "La" at the end of the sentence? Which makes everything less threatening, even when direct emotions are being expressed. Such as

"That Alexander Leonard is a cheeky sod, Lah?" See how nice that is?
The Welsh have Boyo.

While a little music in the language is nice, of course it gets lost in writing and requires delivery from an experienced practitioner.

Judging from online anonymous political rants, it seems the further we get from verbal and face to face, the more fraught our communication; perhaps thats because we get more into the text, and away from the music and the innate humanness that should underpin all civilized interactions. Including those of Alexander Leonard.

Tony said...

Thank you, Amanda. I love the Translation Guide. Is it yours, or if not where did you find it?

I have only just worked out why you chose the blogging name that you did. I had thought it was something you'd picked up at a Burns night in Tokyo

Tony said...

Why, thank you my dear PJ, I couldn't have put it better myself. Actually, I don't think the Welsh "Boyo" is really an invariant tag, but their idea of a polite mode of address.

agrey said...

Found it here: http://www.spectator.co.uk/alexmassie/6950390/negotiating-with-the-british.thtml
A Burns night in Tokyo?! Not that well travelled unfortunately!

Teddy said...

Tony: I have a feeling Amanda didn't get your Burns reference: ".... gang oft agley".