the exclusive, hierarchical manner ofnthe old English upper classes. QueennElizabeth II is the last British monarchnto speak like the Queen of England tonher subjects. Charies, Prince of Walesnhas already implicitly indicated thatnwhen he succeeds to the throne he willnspeak as King of the British people.nAll these changes are part of the slownsocial revolution that has transformednBritain during the last fifty years andnleveled the former pinnacles of thenEnglish aristocracy, if not to a broad flatndemocratic American plain, at least to anmanageable hummocky rubble of bouldersnand moraines. It is doubtful whethernthe Americans were, in any waynresponsible for this process. Rather, thenBritish have to thank MarshallnGoering’s Worid War II Luftwaffe,nwhich forced people of all classes toncower together in common air raidnshelters, and the postwar provision ofnfree false teeth under socialized medicinenthat for the first time enabled thenEnglish lower classes to express themselvesnclearly.nThe formerly toothless poor couldnnow insist on being listened to andndemotic speech became increasingly acceptable.nThe Americans are not tonblame, but those English people whonare nostalgic for their old ways of speakingnfind America a convenient scapegoatnbecause it is rich, powerful, and annendless source of appallingly bad televisionnprograms.nThe English spoken by the majoritynof urban, white Americans is far morenhomogeneous than is the case in Britainnitself, and differs very little from standardnBritish English. The averagenmiddle-class English traveler has far lessntrouble communicating with his counterpartsnin Chicago, San Francisco, ornH.L. Mencken’s Baltimore than withnLIBERAL ARTSnCULTURAL AMNESIAnA man who does not know what happenednbefore his birth will remain alwaysna child.n— Ciceron50/CHRONICLESnhis fellow citizens from Glasgow, Liverpool,nor Newcastle, and a culturednEnglish visitor to the wilder parts ofnYorkshire is still advised to take anninterpreter with him. By contrast thendifferences between the standard formsnof American and British English arentrivial and so well-known that they formnthe basis of aged jokes that circulate onnboth sides of the Atlantic. In one suchnjocular tale an English visitor to annAmerican office, either naively or cunningly,ndepending on who is telling thenjoke, asks a typist if she has a “rubber,” anword that in England signifies an eraser,nbut in America refers to what thenFrench term a capote Anglaise and thenEnglish call a French letter.nSuch differences are no more thannjokes, for the interchange of preachersnand professors, of books and lecturers,nof words and wordmongers across thenAtlantic is both frequent and easy. As anspeaker and writer of Welsh English,nmy main worry when writing fornAmerican publishers is that I do notnunderstand the American system ofnpunctuation, but then I do not understandnthe British system either. I wasnabsent from school on the day that theyndid punctuation. American intellectuals,nfar from being either coarse ornjargon-ridden, tend rather to benshocked by the Rabelaisian freedom ofnutterance of their English female colleaguesnand by the fog of meaninglessnverbiage that fills the speech ofnEngland’s Francophile intelligentsia,nwho even now continue to ponder thenobscurities of Levi-Strauss, Lacan, Althusser,nand Poulantsas. Like theirnwives, they always appear dressed innlast year’s French fashions. It is only thenAmericans who have resisted suchnnonsense, albeit mainly because theynknow no French. Americans alone remainnthe true heirs and guardians ofnthe English tradition of blunt, clear,ndown-to-earth empiricism.nThe one place where a major differencenbetween the two cultures may benseen is the television screen. Sad to say,nBritish television is 70 percent rubbishnbut then, for me at least, Americanntelevision is at least 95 percent rubbish.nI have often sat in American motelnrooms before a television set with tenndifferent channels and no choice.nAmericans, by contrast, are amazed atnthe relatively high quality of Britishntelevision. It is, though, a false compar­nnnison. Europeans tend to see the verynworst of American television, which isnoften dumped in European marketsnbelow cost after it has made its mainnprofit in America. American televisionnstations, however, on the rare occasionsnthey buy abroad, will only buy highnquality British television programs, particularlynif they also have a strongnhistorical dimension. As a people withoutna history, Americans have to buy itnwhere they can. Until very recentlynAmerican broadcasting companiesnhave been unwilling to purchase Britishntelevision soap operas, even thoughnthey are sufficiently banal to appeal tonthe Australians and the Bavarians. Thenother side of this prejudice is that thenBritish ridicule any film in which annactor with an American accent is castnas a noted European such as Napoleonnor Mozart. The Britishers see history,neven Corsican or Austrian history, asntheir own cultural monopoly. In consequencenAmerican popular culture isnmade to look even more crass than itnreally is, while the Europeans, andnespecially the British, deceive thenAmericans into paying deference to ancultural superiority that is in largenmeasure bluff.nThe current British concern aboutnthe state of the language is misplaced,nfor Britain’s real problems lie in thenslow collapse of its system of highschoolneducation, where standardsnhave already dropped sharply and arenlikely to slump even more. Britain’snschools are in decline not because thenBritishers have imitated the equivalentngreat American disaster but because ofnthe power wielded by Britain’s ownnignorant and envious left-wing egalitarians.nSimilarly, the problem the Britishnwill face in the future when innumerablensatellite television stationsnbeam abominations into the very heartnof their homes will be the fault not ofnthe Americans but of advertisers whonare only willing to sponsor programsnaimed at viewers with a mental age ofnless than ten. It is high time that thenBritish ceased to see their Americanncousins as the villains responsible fornundermining the house of intellect andncame to see them as what they are:nfellow victims of the equality-mongers.nChristie Davies is chairman of thensociology department at the Universitynof Reading.n