British council urges staff to avoid 'Brits' and 'the Queen's English'

British council urges staff to avoid ‘Brits’ and ‘the Queen’s English’ in a ‘non-discrimination’ guide

  • Taxpayer-funded body will receive £189 million from the Foreign Office this year
  • Has issued employees with guide that states issues of ‘ill-considered language’
  • Use of terms such as ‘British English’ or ‘Queen’s English’ deemed ‘problematic’ 

Its mission is to promote the nation to the world, yet the British Council has urged its staff not to refer to ‘Brits’ or ‘the Queen’s English’.

The taxpayer-funded body, which will receive £189 million from the Foreign Office this year, has issued employees with a ‘non-discriminatory’ guide that states: ‘Careless, uninformed or ill-considered use of language can categorise, marginalise, exclude or stereotype.’

In the document, the use of terms such as ‘British English’ or ‘Queen’s English’ is deemed ‘problematic as it implies that these varieties of English are more correct or of greater importance than others’.

It also advocates avoiding the term ‘native English speaker’ because ‘it is often understood to relate to countries like the UK, the USA and Australia, and to discriminate against others who are often called non-native speakers’.

The document – obtained by The Mail on Sunday under Freedom of Information legislation – advises against the use of the word ‘Brits’ to describe people from the UK, ‘as the term generally does not include people from Northern Ireland’.

The taxpayer-funded body, which will receive £189 million from the Foreign Office this year, has issued employees with a ‘non-discriminatory’ guide that states: ‘Careless, uninformed or ill-considered use of language can categorise, marginalise, exclude or stereotype’. Pictured: Foreign Secretary Liz Truss

Even ‘politically correct’ is frowned on, because it ‘downplays and trivialises the hurt and offence caused’ in certain circumstances.

Meanwhile, remarking that ‘the colour scheme is insane’ or ‘they had a fit’ should be off limits due to the mental health connotations.

The guide also advises readers to use the terms ‘lower-income country, middle-income country or fragile and conflict-affected state’ instead of ‘developing country’, and says it is preferable to avoid saying ‘guys’ when referring to a group of people because it is ‘usually associated with men and can be perceived as excluding women’. Suggested alternatives include ‘folks’, ‘team’, ‘friends’ or even just ‘everyone’.

The council has offices in more than 100 countries. According to its website, it forges ‘connections, understanding and trust between people in the UK and other countries through arts and culture, education and the English language’.

 Screenwriter and novelist Julian Fellowes criticised the guidance, saying: ‘The British Council should be encouraging people not to take offence when no offence is intended – in other words, the exact opposite of what they are doing here.’

A British Council spokeswoman said the guide was ‘advisory’ rather than ‘prescriptive’, adding: ‘We are proud of our work promoting the UK to the rest of the world. Last year we reached more than 791 million people globally, so it is important the language we use reflects the diversity of our audience.’

She added: ‘As a global organisation, we are committed to being as inclusive as possible. This guide helps our colleagues across the world to achieve that aim.’

The council has offices in more than 100 countries. According to its website, it forges ‘connections, understanding and trust between people in the UK and other countries through arts and culture, education and the English language’ (stock image)

Source: Read Full Article