Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Say it in broken English

Along with such delightful anachronisms as "Orientals", "Coloreds" and "Injuns", I thought I'd never again read in a daily newspaper the term "Broken English" to describe how those folks for whom English isn't a first language might communicate. Not in a front-page news story anyway.

Generally, in such cases, a journalist will either

a) attempt to transcribe such a person's comments in such a way as to convey the feelings without editorializing about the person's linguistic skills; or

b) find a translator.

Item b) is a toughie sometimes when the language is as exotic to these parts as is Spanish, but some do manage.

But at the Gwinnett Daily Post, where we are still, apparently, living in the first term of the Eisenhower Administration, no such standards exist. And so the boyfriend of a stabbing victim's heartfelt expressions of grief are, in 2006, described as having been uttered in "broken english." Just loverly.

I won't hold my breath waiting for the Post to describe, say, Education Ruler-For-Life Alvin Wilbanks' utterances (wherein he describes the first year of elementary education as "kindygarten") as "Hillbilly English." But wouldn't it be loverly, too, if that were to happen?