Home ANTHILL TV To all English grammar vigilantes, Stephen Fry says “sod them to Hades”

To all English grammar vigilantes, Stephen Fry says “sod them to Hades”


Have you ever orally ejected your morning coffee because the graphics on your favourite news show spelled it “Darwen?” Do you slap your forehead every time you see a business sign that sticks an apostrophe before an ‘s’ when the word is simply plural? Do you insist that lazy grammar is a pustule on society up with which we shall not put?

If so, please be so kind as to click on the video below. Stephen Fry would like to have a word.

The actor/screenwriter/columnist — many know him as the reader for all of the Harry Potter audiobooks — gives us an entertaining yet measured argument for the beauty of English in all of its happily bastardised forms. Correctness is a moving target, he says, and a stickler’s demand for clarity is too often a smokescreen for “I know exactly what you meant, I just don’t like the way you said it.”

We’ve seen cases where the pot-thumping for good English goes too far. Remember those grammar vigilantes who were punished a couple of years ago for “fixing” a 60-year-old, hand-painted sign at Grand Canyon National Park in the U.S.? And just recently, the BBC recently stirred the pot by listing 50 “Americanisms” that make Brits gag (In BBC’s defense, the list was culled from email responses to a magazine article, but still: I caught myself saying “shopping cart” instead of shopping trolley today and was thoroughly disgusted with myself. Wow.)

As Fry says of these extremists of diction: “Well, sod them to Hades.”

So before you continue to wring your hands over whether poor grammar damages your SEO, give the video and look and listen. And relax, cobber.

Stephen Fry on language