If youse talk like dis and don't know nuttin' about grammah and good English, don't let Mayah Edward I. Koch know. Yup, you be axin' for it.
This spring, the mayor and schools chancellor Richard Green are beginning a program to exorcise what Green calls "speech demons" from the lexicons of young New Yorkers who don't know or use standard English usage."Axe" instead of "ask," for example. And "pitcher" instead of "picture," "brang" for "brought" and "meetcha" for "meet you."
And, as Koch himself used to say, "liberry" instead of "library."
"It was brought to my attention that I was saying `liberry.' I wasn't aware of it," Koch admitted Tuesday.
The program grew out of Koch's conversations with some of the nearly 1 million students in the city school system.
"It's New Yorkese - it's white, Hispanic, black," Koch said, responding to suggestions that the new language program was aimed at ethnic or racial groups.
"The language in some cases was un-understandable," Koch said, coining a word of his own.
The mayor had asked Green to come up with a program to tackle the problem, and last week Green outlined it for Koch and provided a list of the most commonly mispronounced and misused words and phrases.
The effort starts this spring with a one-day "Putting Your Best Speech Forward Day," during which teachers in all grades will focus on the list of speech demons. A poster contest will produce graphics that will be circulated throughout the system.
The long-term plan includes more debating, oral reports, public service announcements and a booklet of classroom activities aimed at improving English.
All this, Green wrote, should lead to "substantive improvement of oral communication skills." (Say what? Better speaking, you betcha.)
Koch said for young New Yorkers to compete with the best students across the nation and get good jobs, they must be able to speak English properly and "at the same time maintain your own heritage and wherever possible to learn the language of your ancestors."