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  • Short answer, yes: counter-productive and pointless. On occasions like this I’m torn between a reluctance to give such stunts the oxygen of publicity and a desire to demolish them. Perfect too that they have mis-punctuated one of the terms they excoriate.
    Personally I love the way teenagers play with word meanings, the little shock of surprise you get when encountering novel use of language. So I still remember hearing my son refer to the bus he took to school as a ‘safe’ bus (he didn’t mean it was unlikely to catch fire or roll over), and my daughter’s friend recounting that they had had bare jokes in chemistry. Neither of them was likely to use these meanings in a piece of formal writing or, heaven forbid, a job interview; and if they were, there are better ways of showing the inappropriacy of that than some impossible-to-enforce ban.

  • Liz: The apostrophe-less form of ain’t struck me as odd. I guess it’s a variant, but one without much currency compared to the usual spelling.
    Thanks for your examples. Can you clarify what your son meant by a ‘safe’ bus – is it something like OK, all right, good? I’ve seen the word used as a slangy greeting, too.
    You raise another valid point about the ban: it’s impossible to enforce strictly. So it could become just another exercise in unnecessary, and ineffectual, authoritarian control.

  • Hi Stan. As used by my (then roughly) 13 year old son, yes, it was just a general term of approval – it received his approbation simply for being the bus he took to school (as opposed to other less desirable buses taken by other people, perhaps). This was a long time ago, and the fact that it’s stuck in my memory is maybe an indication of how appealing slang can be.

  • Kerry: That’s appalling, if the report is accurate. Apparently the school wants children to learn “when it is and is not acceptable to use slang and colloquial language”, so why ban regional phrases from the playground? Calling them “damaging” is very prejudicial, too.

  • Yes it’s a complete joke, isn’t it – and then connecting it with highly emotive directives like ‘zero tolerance’ …. :-(…