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The King's English

Posted by Smokey Stover on April 24, 2010 at 16:26

In Reply to: The King's English posted by David FG on April 24, 2010 at 07:11:

: : : : : I thought the origin of "The King's English" was King's English and it was the English used by a formwr poet laureate called King?

: : : : Sorry, no. Not much more to say. England hasn't had a Poet Laureate called King - I suppose that's worth saying.

: : : And a good number of England's kings haven't been English either...

: : : DFG

: : And the importance of the king's English, is that it must be imitated by those who wish to show respect for their monarch. (That is, if it emanates from the king, it must be correct.) Thus, when George I was invited to leave Hanover, Germany, and occupy the British throne, the version of English that he learnt well enough to speak had some peculiar touches. For instance, as a good German, he pronounced the word "either" with the sound of "eye" for the first syllable. And that's why so many people say eye-ther and nigh-ther instead of ee-ther and nee-ther.

: : So which do good Brits say these days?
: : SS

: I am neither good nor a Brit, but I did go to good British schools and a good British University, so maybe I might be allowed a comment.

: I think it is, to a considerable extent a class issue, and though not wishing to open up the tired old 'U and Non-U' business, the 'eye-ther' and 'nigh-ther' pronunciations are considered more up-market.


Some Americans probably also consider it a class issue. But if you watch American television you hear "eye-ther" from the most unlikely persons, in terms of class. It appears to be mostly a question of what you heard in the home as a child. I have no idea what one would find if one were able to track this all the way back to the 18th century.