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                       Frequently Asked Questions                             

    Our answers indicate where we stand on certain issues    

Q   What does the QES actually do?
A   The Society campaigns to encourage high standards of written and spoken English, which have been found to be lamentably low among school-leavers and even university graduates. One of its principal campaigns is for better and explicit English language education and regular constructive correction of errors in English language in schools. The Society arranges meetings, lectures and courses, promotes research, publishes members' work and provides media comment.

Q   Does the QES want to police or govern the language?
A   No. That is not seen as our role, as our language will always continue to evolve just as it has done through the ages. We would, however, comment on any alterations to the language that are felt to be not in keeping with clarity and elegance in written or spoken English.

Q   If the QES does not want to police or govern the language, why does it claim to be 'prescriptive'?
A   The Society prefers the prescriptive approach to the descriptive approach, as we do not want the language to lose its fine or major distinctions. We believe that descriptive linguistics, which declares anything anybody said or wrote to be 'correct' caters to mass ignorance under the supposed aegis of democracy and political correctness. Indeed some changes would be wholly unacceptable as they would cause confusion and the language would lose shades of meaning.

Q  Does the QES set rules of good English?
A   No. While the Society does not set out the rules of good English, which already exist and indeed change over time, it has established a collection of reference books which readers might find useful. The Queen's English and How to Use It, published in September 2010, is available for sale at good bookshops around the country.

Q   Does the QES tolerate deviations from the rules that exist?
A   The Society believes that the rules of Standard English should be adhered to in formal written communication as far as possible and where the context demands it. We do not believe, however, that the rules should be adhered to blindly at the expense of literary impact. Indeed, the Society encourages rich and imaginative English where appropriate, as in poetry, drama, fiction and some non-fiction. Schools should teach pupils to suit their style of writing to the context.

Q   Is the QES a self-appointed group of authoritarians?
A   No. Some of the Society's members are pedantic to a lesser or greater degree, but to ask people to enjoy using something properly and elegantly is hardly authoritarian.

Q  Does the QES favour a certain accent in spoken English?
A   No. It is not a question of favouring any particular accent, many of which are delightful to hear. What we DO say is that in formal situations an accent may hinder understanding, so to use no accent may be preferable. One needs to adjust the accent to suit the circumstances.

Q  Does the QES oppose the assimilation of foreign words?
A  We appreciate that the English language has gained enormously from such 'loan' or 'portmanteau' words, as a result of invasions of England by the Vikings and the Normans, borrowings and new coinages from Latin and Greek, our cultural openness to borrowing and its modern global importance. However, we disapprove if some unclear foreign usage or word threatens a good traditional English one. We do not want English to be swamped by Americanisms. For example, the American use of "pavement" for the main road surface, instead of for the pedestrian part, could cause confusion.

Q  Does the QES take a stand on simplified spelling?
Yes. We are against simplified spelling because no one can agree on an acceptable system, and having old and new systems running together would be very confusing. Such a change could cut people off from older literature, causing us to lose familiarity with its mode of expression, and would be very costly.

Q   Does the QES accept anyone as a member or does one have to be a specialist?
A  Anyone is welcome to join, and we encourage members of all ages and backgrounds to join our campaign, from teachers of English or other subjects, to school-leavers, dissatisfied parents and employers, or anyone else interested in using the English language as clearly and beautifully as possible.