Dumbing Down

 Editors of TV news programmes have a responsibility to the viewers to stop false information being given to them.  Surely the comments of people who assume some sort of expertise should be vetted.  Recently on a TV News programme a black American comedian was questioned about a new show which he has written containing the “N” word.  A roving reporter asked members of the public their views on the subject.  Some were against and some were unconcerned by the use of the word.Sitting next to the writer in the studio was a well dressed, well spoken British black man.  Although he seemed not to want to upset his “brother” he was against the use of the “N” word.His arguments showed that he was poorly educated and should never have been allowed to be on serious TV.   He stated that the word “Negro” was insulting as it had its origins in slavery and that the word came from a corruption of the Latin word meaning “dead”!  This, of course, is complete nonsense.   He was probably thinking of the word “necros” which is Greek for “corpse”.  In fact the “N” word comes from the Latin word “
niger” meaning “black”.  Forty years ago the interviewer would have pointed out the error or this part of the conversation would have been cut.  We are certainly seeing dumbing-down on a massive scale.

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Published in: on November 18, 2006 at 4:45 pm  Comments (1)  

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  1. Jackdaw, I think you are on the right track regarding dumbing down. I suppose we should expect a professional journalist to have a rudimentary knowledge of the roots of common words, but there are far more common examples. Less or fewer? why is fewer disappearing from our language?, only to be replaced with Less (e.g. there are less cars on the road). and when did ‘bored with’ become ‘bored of’? Are these just examples of our ever evolving language? Will we all eventually be saying arks in place of ask?
    I recognise of course that if we never allowed change to take place (as the French try to do), we would still be talking in shakespearian English, but I think pedants of England should adopt a King C’nute attitude to these erosions of our language. We won’t stop the tide but think what fun we’ll have pointing out the errors of our less pedantic fellow-citizens. Pedants arise – you have nothing to lose but your language.


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