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No harm in ‘vulgar’

23 November 2012

 The Church Times. November 22nd, 1912.

The Convocation of Canterbury had met on the Tuesday. In the Lower House, the discussion of the Committee's Report on the Royal Letters of Business (Prayer Book Revision) had included amendments to the Office for Public Baptism. The Church Times reported: "The House refused to give up 'the vulgar tongue', although Canon Hankey said nine out of ten poor people thought 'the vulgar tongue' meant bad language, and Dr A. W. Robinson thought 'mother tongue' would be a better phrase."

IF THE Houses of Convocation must waste their time in the discussion of niggling and ridiculous alterations to the Prayer Book, all we can say is that it is a pity their proceedings are not conducted with closed doors. That fine old phrase, "the vulgar tongue", has been made to appear a stumbling-block to many who might other-wise be drawn to the Church. We venture to affirm that it gives offence to none but those who imagine that persons of a certain class are likely to be annoyed by it, as though it had a contemptuous reference to themselves. If it were conceivable that it had such a reference, the people to whom it applied would be blissfully unconscious of the fact, for they would never connect the word "vulgar" with their own social condition or their peculiar manners. As for the rest of the community, so far as they ever trouble themselves about the exact meaning of terms, their feelings would not be hurt by the expression "the vulgar tongue", so that there would appear to be no earthly reason why it should be removed from the Prayer Book. We confess that our patience is tried by the makers of proposals of this finicking order.



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