07 Dec

The language of the people

I get back home, yesterday afternoon – basking in the glory of  (albeit with help) having completed all of my Christmas shopping in four hours – and I see, all over various social media channels, this one phrase.

People are writing it as Facebook statuses, they’re posting it all over Twitter, it’s the top trending hashtag, it’s on Instagram, it’s on national news websites… it’s bloody everywhere: ‘You ain’t no Muslim bruv’.

Obviously, being a little confused, I checked out what was going on and saw the story of what had happened at Leytonstone tube station.

What I found fascinating was how fast this one phrase, shouted by a witness – an ‘ordinary bloke on the street’ witness – had spread since the incident took place.
In fact, the phrase was getting more airtime than the incident itself.


1. Because it summed up a thought process that chimes with many – that the perpetrators of random killings in public places are not attached to a religion, or certainly don’t represent it, even if they say they do (which, in turn, stops the ridiculous blaming of an entire religion for a few individuals).

2. It was said, spur of the moment, in a language that most people can relate to: colloquial, everyday, conversational.
It wasn’t some cleverly worded politician’s statement, or a well-worked sentence from a journalistic piece which has had loads of thought put into it. It summed up what many were/are thinking, in a language we all understand.

The comment wasn’t contrived, there wasn’t loads of time spent thinking about it – it just rolled out of that witness’s mouth.

Your average Joe could relate to it, your average geezer, your middle-class chap who likes a bit of ‘banter’, anyone from London (‘ain’t’… ‘bruv’)… even politicians started getting in on the act, tweeting #YouAintNoMuslimBruv (presumably to curry favour with the voting public: ‘look at me. I’m on the pulse. I know the language you people use’.

And that’s the crux of the matter: whether relative to marketing or everyday communication – it doesn’t matter how much we try to overcomplicate the language we use, people still prefer, use, and share the language that best represents them… that resonates with them.
People talk like, well… people. They don’t talk like marketing departments, local authorities, white papers, tender documents.

‘You ain’t no Muslim bruv’ will always resonate (and be shared) more than ‘we should not seek to blame others within the same community for…[blah, blah, blah]’.

You can’t beat the language of the people.

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