If we should speak proper when in the company of people who speak proper, should a white, Englishman speak in Jamaican patois when in the company of Afro-Carribeans or lowland Scottish when in the presence of a Glaswegian?
I have a feeling that if I attempted to do so I would wake up in hospital.
The defining of proper by a particular social grouping in society is one of the ways that such groups define themselves as proper and everyone else as not proper. It is elitist and a way of controlling those not in the group. Nowhere is this more prevalent than in the Church of England which is still mainly controlled by the Oxford / Cambridge / Durham Universities elite. They decide what is acceptable speech for a minister. The main casualties of this linguistic elitism are those from social classes, other than the elite, seeking promotion in the Church, either lay or clerical. I wonder how often a “well spoken,” but pastorally crap, priest has been appointed to the episcopacy in preference to a chav priest with the pastoral abilities of St. Francis of Assisi.
See IT’S ‘BOUT SPEAKIN’ PROPER, INNIT? below.