Language: if in doubt, blame the Americans

Yesterday, the BBC published an article titled “Americanisms: 50 of your most noted examples“. It included 50 “Americanisms” sent in by the ill-educated British public—together with 1,295 comments—before it closed the forum. Some highlights from the 50:

Most of the people that commented, I expect, are British sticklers ill-at-ease with change, writing letters on a regular basis to the Telegraph and Points of View. (Apparently, it’s still on air! Who knew?) But many are ill-educated buffoons of the opinion that any phrase that grates must be down to the Yanks. In actual fact, a good number of the top 50 entries constitute either language changes through business use, or Olde English words that have fallen out of British English usage, but that still form part of the American lexicon.

So people: get over yourselves. Stop blaming the Americans for the beautiful enhancement of our shared language. British and American English should live together in harmony, each celebrating its quirks, but not disparaging the other for infiltrating its own with a phrase that has become common parlance. Oh, and here’s my post on developing a single written version of English.

End of.

Comments

2 Responses to “Language: if in doubt, blame the Americans”

  1. Peter on July 22nd, 2011 06:58

    Nice post on a subject close to my heart, Dan. My own objections to Americanisms stem from working with a number of US citizens a few years ago. I would spend a good deal of time making what I considered to be a decent job of translating or subtitling a piece of text, only for it to be edited and supposedly made fit for global consumption.
    The end result occasionally read like a British newsreader dropping the occasional clanger.
    I’d be careful about blaming the Americans for it but I think there are reasons to be proud of British English and to want to protect it to a degree. I tend to cringe when British people use expressions from US TV programmes or rap songs, and using the word ‘like’ like every other word.
    I also bemoan the fact that Germans tend to learn American English rather than the English of their European neighbour. As a result of this influence, many ‘new German’ words containing an ‘a’ are pronounced with the ‘a’ pronounced as an ‘e’ – an approximation of the American accent. Hence a ‘Handy’ (mobile phone) is pronounced ‘Hendy’, a Big Mac becomes ‘Big Mec’. People don’t understand you if you pronounce the ‘a’ properly.
    Nobody can stop the development of languages, but there’s nothing to stop you being proud of your own language and heritage, exploring and using it, and trying to defend it where possible.

  2. Stuart Oliver on September 6th, 2011 15:47

    I notice I’ve been pulled up about the ‘period/full stop’ usage. I also commented on the use of ‘kindergarten’ instead of ‘nursery’, but it didn’t get published. It’s a German word, yet it seems to be slipping into official use in the UK. I don’t mind Americans having their own words, I just don’t know why people over here feel the need to use them!

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