Kevin Harper on the need to use plain English, and Peter Branston on new language and Thomas Hardy
Re your report (Oh my days: linguists lament slang ban in London school, 30 September), a few years ago I was asked to attend the local comprehensive school to teach a one-off lesson about legal aid. As I was leaving, the teacher asked if I had any advice he could pass on to the A-level students. I told him that they need to be taught how to talk properly. He told me he could not possibly tell the pupils that.
Lawyers need to be able to compose a sentence. They have to know the difference between a question and a statement. Language peppered with “fillers” detracts from the advice you give and the arguments you advance in court. There’s nothing wrong with accents or dialects. There is something wrong about departing from plain English.
Vice-president, Association of HM District Judges