Sunday, June 3, 2012

The other royals speak nice(ly)

Why are Americans so fascinated with the House of Windsor and their inhabitants? Why is Queen Elizabeth II’s barge trip down the Thames headline news today? Why do we not switch the channel to watch our own Kansas City Royals play the Oakland A’s this afternoon? Could it be our Royals have a dismal record compared with Queen Elizabeth’s diamond-encrusted years? Is the House of Windsor more interesting sport than baseball?

English culture engages Americans. Downton Abbey drew millions of viewers. England’s film industry mixes closely with Hollywood in more ways than language. Many of our American television shows came from BBC and Channel 4 series. England remains a cultural hothouse. Our local PBS station purveys English culture and many people enjoy it for that simple reason.

The varieties of English spoken in the Irelands, Wales, and Scotland require subtitles. It’s the refined Queen’s English, that even Gwyneth Paltrow purveys, that makes us hear intelligence and clarity. Anyone can learn it. Eliza Dollittle did. So can you.

What we Americans do not experience in the exported English fare of cultural bits are the not so savory bits outside the London postcodes beginning with W1. We don’t hear East Enders. We do have a popular singer “Adele” with a North London Tottenham (postcode N17-ish) endearing “chavvy” accent. Listen to the music of her language as well as her singing. Diffunt from propah, init? [init – a wonderful multiple use word meaning “isn’t it”]

I think there’s much to fascinate us in England. England possesses a variety of cultures. I can appreciate why we, especially American women, love the House of Winsor while the local American men tolerate the Royals. I suppose it is what it is, but it’s still fascinating to me. I think it has much to do with language; a language we secretly long to emulate and learn. Proper language. Precise diction. Clear pronunciation. Proper language is all one needs to be English, “at duh end ah dah day” [another popular musical phrase in English conversation]. In England, language is at the heart of personal re-invention. It’s as simple and complex as that, my fair ladies and genulmun.

“The rhine in Spine stize minely in da pline…”

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