Lancs-Less Task for the OU Profs; Dennis Ellam Is Fair Miffed with the Oxfordisation of Two Cultural Icon S

Article excerpt

This time, the guardians of correctness have surely gone too far - they have meddled with Wallace and Gromit, two of the leading voices of contemporary culture.

The pair have had their colloquialisms cleaned up.

A newly-revised version of their first major work, The Wrong Trousers, has been commissioned by the Oxford University Press, who have insisted that their original Lancashire-speak should be transformed into proper Queen's English.

By 'eck, as Wallace has often said. The dialogue which has charmed millions of devoted followers for the last decade is suddenly found to be too inferior for the OUP.

The academics explain that their videos are used as teaching tools for foreign students learning English, and that figures of Wallace's speech are liable to baffle them (Gromit, as everyone knows, retains a dignified silence).

Even Dickens and Shakespeare, they point out, undergo a simplification process when they are being inserted into basic language textbooks.

Inevitably irate Northerners are unimpressed; they suspect a Southern-based plot to impose posh-sounding standards, and 15 of them who happen to be MPs at once signed an Early Day motion registering their dismay.

"When I'm taking a bath I say I'm taking a bath - and not a barth, with an R, as Southerners would prefer," said the Yorkshire MP David Hinchcliffe.

"Who's to decide which way is correct?"

The Northern lobby has a point, most native English-speakers would agree.

Foreign students who are learning the language are surely being misled, if they come out of college with the impression that it is always spoken in the standard format with Oxford-style clarity. …