First Thing, Daily Maverick's flagship newsletter

Join the 230 000 South Africans who read First Thing newsletter.

We'd like our readers to start paying for Daily Maverick

More specifically, we'd like those who can afford to pay to start paying. What it comes down to is whether or not you value Daily Maverick. Think of us in terms of your daily cappuccino from your favourite coffee shop. It costs around R35. That’s R1,050 per month on frothy milk. Don’t get us wrong, we’re almost exclusively fuelled by coffee. BUT maybe R200 of that R1,050 could go to the journalism that’s fighting for the country?

We don’t dictate how much we’d like our readers to contribute. After all, how much you value our work is subjective (and frankly, every amount helps). At R200, you get it back in Uber Eats and ride vouchers every month, but that’s just a suggestion. A little less than a week’s worth of cappuccinos.

We can't survive on hope and our own determination. Our country is going to be considerably worse off if we don’t have a strong, sustainable news media. If you’re rejigging your budgets, and it comes to choosing between frothy milk and Daily Maverick, we hope you might reconsider that cappuccino.

We need your help. And we’re not ashamed to ask for it.

Our mission is to Defend Truth. Join Maverick Insider.

Support Daily Maverick→
Payment options

But slang’s a language too, innit?

Media

Media

But slang’s a language too, innit?

Can you adam and eve it? A jah rule in Manchester has outlawed crap dang! (Trans: Can you believe it? A school in Manchester has banned slang!)

Like an old dinner jacket that gets dusted off and worn once a year, it’s a question that’s perennial: should slang be outlawed? In the United Kingdom, home of “mother English,” the question has been asked since Shakespeare was a stripling. But while the give-and-take of language has meant that English has developed irrespective of the wishes of the slang police, a school in Manchester recently tried to take back the high ground. Kids at the Manchester Academy would no longer be allowed to finish their sentences with phrases like “innit” or “d’ya know wha’ I mean?”

“We’re a business and enterprise academy,” Maria Nightingale, principal for operations at the school, told the BBC. “It is really important our youngsters go into the world equipped with the appropriate use of language so they are not disadvantaged.”

Which is fair enough. Nightingale was echoing the sentiments of some prominent English linguists, who feel that kids in the UK are increasingly unable to discern the proper audience for their dialect – parents, friends and teachers are all addressed in the same strange mix of cockney, West Indian and West African, they say, with its exotic peppering of Kuwaiti and Bangladeshi on top.

What Nightingale fails to account for, of course, is the pedigree of English slang. Shakespeare was an inveterate user of sixteenth-century slang, and many of the formations he employed in his plays soon entered the language’s mainstream: words like “cold-blooded,” “soft-hearted,” “quarrelsome,” and “worthless”; phrases like “mind’s eye,” “into thin air,” “caught red-handed,” and “one fell swoop”.   

Also, it was around Shakespeare’s time that “slang” took on its present-day meaning – it is widely believed to be a shortened version of “secret language,” and it referred to a type of English spoken by criminals in London, which may or may not have been the genesis for today’s cockney rhyming slang (due to the scarcity of written records, academics can’t be sure). So, if someone were to say in cockney rhyme that Maria Nightingale is “mum and dad,” what they’d mean is that she’s “mad,” and given the long list of pedants who’ve tried to impose their will on the language before her – and failed – they’d probably be right.

By Kevin Bloom

Read more: BBC

Gallery

Please peer review 3 community comments before your comment can be posted