Transaction Publishers | 2003-01-16 | ISBN: 0765801760 | 181 pages | PDF | 11 MB
For years Richard Hoggart
has observed the oddity of a common speech habit: the fondness for
employing ready-made sayings and phrasings whenever we open our mouths,
a disinclination to form our own sentences "from scratch", unless that
becomes inescapable. Here, he is interested in more specific questions.
How far do the British share the same sayings across the social
classes? If each group uses some different ones, are those differences
determined by location, age, occupation or place in the social scale?
Over the years, did such sayings indicate some of the main lines of
their culture, its basic conditions, its stresses and strains, its
indication of meanings, and significance?
and other concerns animate this exploration of how the English, and
particularly working-class English, use the English language. Hoggart
sets the stage by explaining how he has approached his subject matter,
his manner of enquiry, and the general characteristics of sayings and
speech. Looking back in time, he explores the idioms and epigrams in
the poverty setting of the early working-class English. Hoggart
examines the very innards of working-class life and the idioms, with
language that arose in relation to home, with its main characters of
wives and mother, husbands and fathers and children; the wars; marriage;
food, drink, health and weather; and neighbours, gossip, quarrels, old
age and death. He discusses related idioms and epigrams and their
evolution from prewar to present. Hoggart identifies the sayings and
special nuances of the English working-class people that have made them
identifiable as such, from the rude and obscene to the intellectual and
imaginative. Hoggart also examines the areas of tolerance, local
morality and public morality, elaborating on current usage of words
that have evolved from the 14th through the 18th centuries. He touches
on religion, superstition and time, the beliefs that animate language.
And finally, he focuses on aphorisms and social change and the emerging
idioms of relativism, concluding that many early adages still in use
seem to refuse to die.