The Meaning is Clear

08 Oct 2023

A bit of found poetry about linguistic prescriptivism

Recovering from some kind of lurgy, and the attendant brainfog, I've regressed into primary-school-style creativity. Scissors, glue, and paper, plus a sense of despair at the continued flourishing of linguistic prescriptivism, morphed into a found poem collaged together from fragments of old magazines and pages from damaged books.

A series of phrases and words cut out from different kinds of printed paper, arranged vertically to make a poem. There is a transcript of the poem below this image.
‘The Meaning is Clear’, Bethan Tovey-Walsh, 2023.
CC BY-ND 4.0

standard English

can be found wherever people are excluded.

Everyone wants to be able to write good English

to fit in with the language

of power and wealth.

standard English is

a way of arranging

that powerful and influential people

are as white as they should be.

That is why we have

good grammar!

the struyctures and rules put in place to ensure that

unclean beasts

specifically, a laborer as distinguished from a capitalist

stay silent!

It's important to use standard English

whenever possible, especially in

a dull tone.

To speak good English, you need grammar.

with language skills like that,

policy makers in community and nation

secure economic

and military


learning the skills of grammar

was the most important part of

their organization, and the way

someone who is very rich, but also

appears to be rather stupid

is unconditionally guaranteed

greatly increased income

The meaning is clear.

We can aspire to more,

and revolution is a possible


unexpected things happen

when you're ready, open your eyes.