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40 years since itv extended hours: 16th Oct 1972

Started with rainbow a british Revolution in better Kids TV (October 2012)

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bilky asko
I had first hand experience of watching my German cousin growing up speaking both German and English; she would frequently switch between the two within the same sentence. The same process is now happening with her much younger half-brothers. So if it was hard enough for them to grasp that German and English are two separate languages, just imagine how hard it would be for equally young children to appreciate subtle differences in spelling and punctuation within one language! Granted, it may be corrected during schooling, but why put them in that position just for the sake of watching an American TV show when we've always had a strong selection of British programming?

I have to take issue with what you just posted - children growing up with two languages know from a very early age that they are separate - the process you have described (code-switching) actually demonstrate's the child's ability to distinguish between the two languages. A child's brain can easily pick up two or more languages at that age.

The battle between American English and British English you've described isn't an issue of two different languages - it's of two different varieties of English. A child won't be so stupid that they will only learn American English lexis if exposed to British English. It is merely a representation of how their words are coming over here and becoming more prominent, largely due to US TV and the internet. In fact, because of the Anglophile community's rise in prominence on the internet, and the British obsession that is growing in the US, our words are going over there.

Language change is inevitable - rather than preventing children from learning the Americanisms through culture, we should be teaching them what currently is standard, and not discrediting the Americanisms as wrong - especially if they are becoming established.

You're not taking into account that we were actually talking about a 1970s decision not to broadcast Sesame Street, rather than the current situation. Obviously language is always evolving and words spread around the world much more easily now than they did in previous decades, thanks to the internet and the proliferation of foreign TV programmes. But in the 1970s the decision was taken by some that intentionally showing children Sesame Street would risk affecting their education. In the context of the time in which that decision was made, I agree with it. That's not to say I would agree with it in 2012 as it's no longer practical.

I'm well aware that the Sesame Street argument is over two varieties of English rather than two separate languages. But I disagree that a child would not be confused by two different pronunciations of the letter 'z' or variations of spellings e.g. colour and color. I just don't believe they could easily grasp the difference at such an early age. I bet they wouldn't even fully appreciate what America is at Sesame Street age, certainly not to the level of being able to separate forms of English between Britain and the US.

I am only taking issue with your opinion, and the fact that it doesn't match up to the fact. You were claiming that because children code-switched that they were confused between two languages - that is wrong. You were claiming that US television negatively affects children today - that is also wrong.

Your example of the child code-switching between German and English in a sentence is a good example of the way children can distinguish between different languages at an early age, and your analogy is therefore flawed. It is widely accepted fact.

Whilst I agree that a small child of 2 or 3 will likely not understand the notion of foreign countries or whatever, you can teach an older child the difference between the two versions. A child of 2 or 3 is not irreversibly "damaged" by zee, sidewalk, or diaper; even then, as I mentioned earlier, a child exposed to British English will not refuse to learn it because of TV.

I have no opinion of the decision in the '70s, but I disagree with the views of today's environment that you've put forward.
Pete Founding member
The picture quality was very different - a sort of odd washed out NTSC, and the accents and odd references distanced it somewhat. I remember finding the theme tune baffling (I'm still not entirely sure what they were singing in parts) and it was many many years until I realised what the 'Sesame Street has been brought to you by' bit was about!

I had the same issues in the 90s. I liked the puppets but tended to find a lot of the rest of it confusing in a way that, for example, Playdays was not.

I suspect that for all the bile that appears to have been directed at them the TV execs at the BBC were right to be cautious.

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