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Bring three and fourpence we are going to a dance

There was a story that was old when I was a kid many moons ago. It was about communication and how easy it was for words to be misunderstood. It went like this. A line was set up of about 100 people in a dance hall. The first person in line had to read a note that said ‘Bring reinforcements we are going to advance’ they then had to whisper that to the person next to them. They were to say it once and were not allowed to repeat. The words were then passed down the line until the last person had to say what it was. They said ‘Bring three and fourpence we are going to a dance’

Several times since then as part of team building excercises we tried something similar and even with short lines it always got garbled. It seems that we are not very good at communicating despite thousands of years of language evolution and each of us practising since we were two.

So when the world ends and we all lose our email and wordprocessing capability we will be reduced to talking and writing to pass on information, to educate and remember our history. Won’t that go down well. I can just see some of our younger survivors telling us all about what they did today. GR8T DAY 2DAY BRO. I think this means ‘I had a jolly good day today my friend’ or something but I’m not sure.

Language is going to become slightly more important than it is now and yet I wonder if we will be able to communicate among ourselves. My kids seem to be fluent in two languages, English and Textspeak, whilst I can barely speak one, English.

Throw into the mix the regional accents, Geordie, Scouse, Glaswegian, The Queens English and a hundred other little dialects that most of us cannot even understand now and what will it be like?

I suppose that all language evolves, except French, which they are attempting to legally define to stay the same and never be tainted by progress, so I guess it is inevitable that it will be changed after an event.

I’m told Textspeak isn’t that hard to master. I hope not anyway although I’m going to fight for The Queens English, with my slight regional dialect anyway. When we meet other as we start to travel I don’t want to get shot because they think I’m French or something. English is the only way to go.

3 comments to Bring three and fourpence we are going to a dance

  • fred

    Three and fourpence.

  • iaaems

    Three and four pence it is.
    Just to change the subject slightly – I was watching one of the American crime investigation shows the other day and noticed that on their overalls they like to spread mis information insofar as they let everyone know that they only cost four and six. Spelling was not correct either. That’s the text age for you I suppose. Give me good old English every day.

  • Skean Dhude

    fred, Iaaems,

    OK. Fixed. Three and fourpence it is.

    I’ve lost track of some of the meanings now.

    Liberal
    Gay
    Police
    Consult with the public
    and many more

    Words are easily mis understood. I should add that to the article.

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