Can I get the train from here innit?

I can’t count the number of times I’ve stood at the bar and heard some young person asking of the bar staff, “Can I get…? For the sake of argument, “Can I get a pint of London Pride?”
Time after time I’ve wanted to say to them, “Yes, yes you can get a pint of London Pride. I can see the hand pump, you can see can see the hand pump, that’s why you just asked about it but you are asking the wrong question; you need to ask, ‘Please may I have a pint of London Pride?’ ”

Obviously, launching this tirade at a complete stranger isn’t going to help me win friends but the whole “can I get” thing does annoy me, probably more than it should. What’s wrong with, “Please may I have a pint of London Pride?” or “I’ll have a pint of London Pride please.”,” A pint of London Pride please.” or even just “Pride please”

Please please me, oh yeah…

I have almost come to the conclusion that maybe it’s that little word “please” that is the stumbling block. Maybe “can I get” is seen as more hip and trendy, coming as it does from American TV. Maybe I’m talking rubbish but maybe not. “Please” is such a small word but, and this is the ironic thing, it is seen as asking for something, which indeed it is but I believe that an awful lot of people don’t want to be seen as having to ask for anything in these days of instant digital gratification. If I was working behind the bar my reply would be, “Yes, you can get, do you want?”

I can picture it now:

“Can I get a pint of London Pride?”
“Yes, you can get a pint of London Pride; do you want a pint of London Pride?”
“Yes, that’s why I just asked.”
“What do you say then?”
“Can I get a pint of London Pride?”
“Yes, you can get a pint of London Pride; do you want a pint of London Pride?”
And so on ad infinitum.

I don’t like Fuller’s London Pride, as an ale it spectacularly ordinary. There’s nothing really wrong with it, it’s not bad but it’s not really good. I don’t know why I used it as an example; maybe I should have gone with Carling.

The next train to arrive at platform four…

Another insidious intruder into the language is “Train Station”; this annoys the hell out of me. Britain gave railways to the world, we invented railway stations and they were things of social importance. Once upon a time if you asked someone the directions to “the station” it was understood that you were asking about the railway station.  So why don’t buses stop at a road station? A road carries buses and cars and lorries and cyclists, all of which might be tempted to stop at a road station so obviously you have to have a bus station. A railway carries trains so you don’t have to be too specific about what stops at a railway station.

And what do trains run on? A railway line! Not “train tracks”, not a “rail line”.

A line of railway wending through the countryside and a railway station; or some train tracks leading to a train station. Nah, railway station for me please.

A line of railway, a railway line, train tracks; a train line; a clear progression and of course, you have to have progression in language as with everything, without progress this is stagnation but I just can’t bring myself to lapse into some of the modern idioms.

You little so-and-so!

Whilst I’m sailing on this tack, why do people end a sentence with “so”?
Example: “I couldn’t work it out, so.”
I think there is supposed to be an ellipsis on the end of that;
“I couldn’t work it out, so…” with the unspoked hope that maybe whoever is being addressed can work it out, whatever “it” may be.
“I was going to get here earlier but I missed the bus, so…”
It’s tempting to say, “So what?”
Maybe they should have gone to the bus station and not the car station.

There is no real verbal way of saying”…”, so maybe ending on “so” is the verbal clue that you are ending your sentence with an ellipsis; hoping that somebody else will weigh-in and complete what you obviously don’t have the capacity to articulate.

I say there is no way of saying “…” but who remembers seeing that phonetic punctuation sketch by Victor Borge? Ah, what a classic, if you’ve never seen it, go and search YouTube: Victor Borge – Phonetic Punctuation.

Isn’t it?

OK, I’m nearly done here for today innit.
Oh dear me, where on earth did that come from? Somewhere east of American TV methinks. I used to work with a chap who was forever ending sentences with “innit”. To which I would reply, when the devilment took me, “I don’t know, is it?” or “Isn’t it what?” which usually elicited a quizzical look from said chap. It was part of his lexicon, it was just a word used to close a sentence. Sometimes it worked, almost; sometimes it was just an incongruous addition innit. See? It worked there didn’t it? It’s not perfect but it doesn’t make the statement sound odd. However, “Tony, have you got the specification for this product innit?” is a little odd.

Right, I think I’ll stop here, this is my stop, my station and I’m getting off innit.

One thought on “Can I get the train from here innit?

  1. I`m glad it`s not just me that finds these things annoying. Another of my pet hates is how the term “Road Trip” has entered our language, To me it conjures up visions of a 3000+ mile drive in the USA and not a 70 mile drive to Llandudno .as is usually meant when used in Britain.

    Liked by 1 person

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