Word power

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It is a great loss that Andrew HN Gray (Letters, 4 December) is unable to understand dialect in Scotland, and a pity that this may suggest no enjoyment of accents, colloquialisms, word usage et al.

I hope Mr Gray did not have to learn a foreign language when he was at school – the thought of his discomfort at having to get his mouth around those awful foreign sounds is most disturbing. The beauty of language in all of its aspects is one of the joys of living in a modern world – Birmingham, Geordie, Liverpool, West Country, Mid-Welsh, Belfast, other accents, languages and word usages in these islands and beyond have an importance of their own. Of course, Mr Gray is entitled to his opinion, and it may only be Scottish usage that confuses him – but language evolves. Where would he have preferred it stopped? Most languages have an aphorism in their own lingua franca which usually translates into “normal English” as in – “small minds rarely bear big ideas”!

Bill McLean


Dunfermline, Fife

For once I agree with Andrew HN Gray. Like him, I dislike the use of the meaningless phrase, “I was like”.

This illiteracy of American origin has now affected our young. Likewise, I deplore the use of “enjoy!” as an intransitive verb, instead of “enjoy it” or “enjoy yourself”. Similarly, it hurts me to see the verb “hurt” used improperly as an intransitive verb, as in “he was hurting badly”, instead of “he was suffering badly”.

“Suffer”, of course, is both a transitive and an intransitive verb. These solecisms are also of American origin.

Colin McAllister

South Street

St Andrews