Royal Institute for the Language of English | Daniel Evans
The Queen’s English. The United Kingdom must give idiom, which puffs wisps of truths in fleeting words, real shape, formal, masoned reality.
Her Majesty might consider founding the Royal Institute for the Language of English (RIFLE).
Duckies, the English language is in peril. It is a terrible irony that while it is the global lingua franca (that phrase belongs to English now), the language of choice in culture, business, the internet, and much else, day by day it degrades more and more. The foreigners honour us but standards must be set and kept. The Americans cannot be allowed to destroy the culture and heritage of yet another indigenous people. Spanish will be the US official language before too long anyway.
To the Europeans, we never really left you. Brexit Shmexit. You speak our language now, 44% of you and growing. It is the ubiquitous, daily language of your elites in your parliament, and soon of your people. Oops. As a parting gift, the RIFLE really ought to help you out. Who better to set the authentic standard, to pass judgement on your verbal acuity and literacy? Don’t worry. Even children can speak English in this country. You’re going to be just fine. Besides, who better to guide you properly so that you might be sent back to serve in your parliament? Just like the Raj, just like India’s civil service to this day. With 44% of you and growing, you really ought to be educated properly in your own language.
To the foreigners of the world, come as guests on education visas. To the foreigners of the EU, we extend a special hand of friendship. The UK really has deprived you in Brexit, hasn’t it? It’s not your fault, so let us apologise in our own, polite, uniquely British way. Fast track visas, a class of their own, a class apart, a class above, even, named with recognition of the terrible slights against you. For beginners, the “Visa for the Special Emergency Remedial Education of the Beleaguered”. For the more advanced, you get the “Civilisation Visa”. Sure, the name is much simpler, but it’s also a test. Which side of interpretative ambiguity does it fall on? Ah, you know what? It doesn’t matter. Are we really going to be stingy with people who want to come to the UK to improve themselves?
Come, foreigners, to the RIFLE. Put yourselves under the guidance of the British Crown. It ought to be the head start for any promising careerist go-getter, to study properly with all your peers from around the world, in the language you will speak together. Can you even be said to speak English at all as a foreigner if you haven’t been credentialled by the RIFLE?
Better still, come for full cultural immersion. This is vital too not just for the mere preservation, but the proliferation of the English language. There is a great wealth, indeed a full wildlife, of English dialects with which any properly educated, finished ladies and gentlemen ought to be adorned. We couldn’t possibly expect to keep you hemmed in, in a refined, santised, curated patch in central London. No, no, enrich yourselves with a full, unfiltered, real British experience. Full cultural immersion. Jellied eels, peaky blinders, Glasgow kisses. It shall be the finest work of the RIFLE to hear the question “where did all the cockneys go?” and answer finally that they now go as far afield as the Spanish Apples and Pears in Rome to Yoyogi Light and Dark in Tokyo.
Soft power. That’s what it is. If only Zelensky had the vocabulary to say “Ee by gum, howay our kid Vlad, gertcha”. You’ll know the RIFLE is working the next time Zelensky gets on Zoom with the House of Commons, or better yet the US Congress, and he opens with “why aye man”.