Queen's English Society upset after BBC show makes 'grammar Nazi' jibe
4th October 2022

What the heil! Queen’s English Society reacts with fury after BBC comedy show implies they are ‘grammar Nazis’

  • The phrase is used to describe alleged sticklers for correct grammar
  • It was used on comedian Gemma Arrowsmith’s Sketched Out show on Radio 4
  • Queen’s English Society was also mentioned, as mock members were spoken to
  • Group said it ‘utterly condemns’ the ‘implication’ they are ‘grammar Nazis’ 

A society that exists to promote the correct use of English has reacted with fury after a BBC radio comedy show jokingly implied they are ‘grammar Nazis’. 

The phrase is used to describe alleged sticklers for correct grammar.

It was repeated several times on Radio 4 show Gemma Arrowsmith’s Sketched Out, during a mock segment that delved into the ‘shadowy world of grammar Nazis’.

In the episode, a comic impersonating documentary maker Louis Theroux was heard ‘meeting’ a member of the ‘grammar Nazi community’, who was said to have a poster of Queen’s English Society president Dr Bernard Lamb on her wall. 

She described him as ‘dreamy’ and told how she was ‘sucked into this electrifying online world where they are discussing the possessive your and the contraction of you are.’ 

Responding to the humorous jibe, a spokesman for the Queen’s English Society (QES) today said the group ‘utterly condemns’ the ‘implication’ that they are ‘grammar Nazis’. 

The Queen’s English Society has reacted with fury after a BBC radio comedy show implied they are ‘grammar Nazis’

In the show on September 29, a male comic pretending to be Theroux was heard saying: ‘I am going in the shadowy world of grammar Nazis.’

A character, named as Paul, then said: ‘I would argue with people online, with colleagues, employers, even at parties. 

‘I thought that everyone would be impressed that I knew the difference between count and noncount nouns, or how to use effect and affect.

The man doing Theroux’s voice then responded: ‘You see, I know that one. Affect is a verb and effect is a noun.’

It prompted the furious stickler to say: ‘Not always. Effect can be a verb in some circumstances, for example, ‘to effect change’ and affect can be a noun, for example, ‘he took the news with little affect’. 

The fake Theroux then added: ‘It was clear that the road to recovery was a long one. 

‘But I wanted to go deeper. Sara, not her real name, is still part of the ‘grammar Nazi’ community. 

Sara then said: ‘It started with the little things. Just correcting apostrophes, and then you are sucked into this electrifying online world where they are discussing the possessive your and the contraction of you are. 

‘And before you know it, you are writing out essays in comment sections, explaining the difference between their, there and they’re!’

She added: ‘It is not my job to make people feel comfortable, I am a truth teller. 

‘And if you can’t handle that with your BBC elite brainwashed ways then you can just get the hell out of my house right now!’ 

‘Theroux’ was then heard speaking to Sara’s teenage daughter, who had the poster of Dr Lamb on her wall. 

She said: ‘That is Dr Bernard Lamb, the president of the Queen’s English Society. Isn’t he dreamy?’ 

The QES strives ‘to halt the decline in standards’ in the use of English. In 2020, it emerged the society could change its name after the Queen’s death

The QES spokesman added: ‘Whilst we have no objection to the description of our President, Dr Bernard Lamb, as a ‘super dreamy’ pin-up, we firmly disassociate ourselves from any Nazi, fascist or other extremist organisation and consider this random, glib and inaccurate use of the term ‘Nazi’ to be repugnant and offensive to Holocaust survivors and to WW2 veterans.

‘The Queen’s English Society is a global, progressive and multi-cultural charitable body that seeks to promote the maintenance, knowledge, understanding, development and appreciation of the English language. 

‘We strive to liberate the English language from usage that is detrimental to its clarity or euphony.’ 

The BBC has been approached for comment.  

The QES strives ‘to halt the decline in standards’ in the use of English. 

In 2020, it emerged the society could change its name after the Queen’s death.

Whilst the ‘King’s English Society’ was mentioned as an option, Debbie Le May, the editor of the QES newsletter, said it should consider dropping the royal name entirely.

As possible new names, she suggested ‘The Better English Society or The Good English Matters Society or The Society for Better English’. 

‘It is considered that all these express what the society stands for and do not link it to outmoded customs nor to an elitist and exclusive cabal,’ she added.

However, at the group’s annual meeting last month, members voted to keep its current name.  

The society was founded in 1972 and nearly ceased to exist in 2012, after none of its members volunteered for roles within the organisation. 

It was given a late reprieve when new committee members did volunteer. 

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