Okay, I’m a linguistic fuddy duddy

I have been living in south London for almost two years now, so I have got used to the local accent. At first I really noticed it: coming from ‘oop north’, the way in which the people down here speak seemed strange and unfamiliar. Now, of course, the south London accent has faded into the background, and no longer catches my attention. The other day, however, something rather odd happened which I think I need to record.

Chopper and I were in a chippy on the road back from Bexleyheath. We were cold, hungry and I was anxious to get home. While we were waiting for our chips, two girls walked in after us. They were white, and I would guess in their mid to late teens. However, what struck me s unusual about them is how they spoke: they were using a form of English I had only rare heard before. I guess it was a type of patwa used mostly by afrocaribean black men, but the way in which they were using it made it almost completely incomprehensible. Even chopper, a native of these parts, had to ask them what they were saying.

It is only natural that languages evolve and new dialects form – and this was indeed a dialect – but there was something in the way these girls were speaking which struck me as odd. They were using phrases like ‘I is’ rather than ‘I am’; they were playing fast and loose with grammar and syntax and thinking it made them look big. When Chopper spoke to them, though, they answered in perfectly normal English. I’m not trying to be an old fuddy-duddy here going on about linguistic purity, but I must admit he way kids around here seem to be starting to use this aggressive, simplistic sounding, grammatically incorrect patwa seems to annoy me, yet I can’t put my finger on why. Mind you, it could just be because I don’t understand it. Well, that and the fact it sounds awful when I try to use it on my Lightwriter.

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