My pet peeve – you might have noted that I have a number of pet peeves; the apartment is a regular menagerie by now – is the insistence of the illiterate in pronouncing ‘aitch’ with an ‘h’ at the beginning. One might be forgiven for thinking that it is only English-speaking French people who go around putting aitches everywhere except where they are meant to be, but apparently the British have a great knack for it. I’m told it’s something to do with a rather silly neurosis about not appearing to be working class. That’s how Orwell identified his socially inferior comrades, don’t you know? He compelled the middle classes to join forces in an incoherent socialism, telling his stupefied readers that they had nothing to lose but their aitches. Well, more fool him for thinking that aitches were trifles. In the event, it turns out that the working classes fancied a bit of the capitalist pie after all, and figured that aitches were the only thing standing in their way. So, they put them every-bloody-where, including at the start of ‘aitch’, thereby ensuring that everyone can still readily identify them as the working classes they long not to be.
It's to the north, I believe
Those incorrigible scamps who dare to use polysyllables also tinker with the word ‘mischievous’, pronouncing a phantom ‘i’ before the ‘o’. I suppose it’s either a sick joke or that they are borrowing the ‘i’ from American aluminium, which apparently has one going spare. And all the while the politically correct linguists keep repeating that there’s no right or wrong; that this is how language evolves; each to his own, and so on. Well, I’m all for regional diversity: England has a great range of daft accents and dialects that help us to know where we are, and they are a wonderful source of pride and passion, as well as an endless mine for television comedians and advertisers. But, we’ve all always known that there was a correct way to speak that served for job interviews, meeting the vicar or the bank manager, and for generally being understood when outside one’s own village. To be ‘bidialectal’ was to be English. However, if we go around saying that anyone can talk any old way they please, it’s all the same to us, and sorry even for breathing, then before you know it we’ll be a barbarian backwater. Americans, instead of assuming that we’re all touched with genius and related to the Queen, will laud it over us for our inferior articulations, and laugh at our cute incompetency with the language we invented.
Save Standard English. It’s the only damn thing we have left!