Thursday, 21 July 2011

Americanisms

A lot of people seem to have issues with the increasing amount of Americanisms creeping into our English usage. All those seasons of Friends and CSI that get broadcast 24/7 are affecting the way we talk. I mean, out of the 30 hours of TV we watch every week, oftentimes the majority will be US-produced. You do the math. Like, go figure.

This list of 50 notable Americanisms caught my attention. The responses are more interesting than the phrases themselves. These are some reactions of the British respondents to American vernacular:
- "It infuriates me"
- "It makes no sense ... my pulse rises"
- "The one I can't stand is..."
- "It makes me cringe no end"
- "The word I hate to hear is..."
- "I was thoroughly disgusted"
- "It makes me shudder"
- "My teeth are on edge every time I hear it" (The phrase being referred to here is, in fact, "train station")
- "I don't know how anything could be as annoying or lazy"
- "Really irritates me"
- "Just makes me shiver with annoyance"
- "What a ridiculous phrase!"
- "Hideous"
- "Sets my teeth on edge with a vengeance" (What?)

Gosh. American English must be really vulgar to evoke such strong feelings of hatred, annoyance and (seriously?) vengeance. Let's find an example...

Ok, so Marcus Edwards says: "I hate the fact I now have to order a "regular Americano". What ever happened to a medium sized coffee?"

Oh yes, Marcus, how horrendous. How will you cope Marcus? Is your life a misery now Marcus? Do you have an inconquerable fear of coffee shops? Does you blood boil every time you set foot in Starbucks? The world is such an insufferable place to exist, isn't it? When people start to use vomit-inducing words like "regular". Bleurgh... Retch.


You might have noticed that I don't quite agree. Some people seem to have the ridiculous idea that English, in its current form, is "proper", and any deviation is terribly upsetting. The arrival of words like "regular" cause private uproar because they are different, and therefore they are wrong. This is ludicrous. JP Spore says it better than I could:

"English itself is a rather complicated, interesting blend of Germanic, French and Latin (among other things). It has arrived at this point through the long and torturous process of assimilation and modification. The story of the English language is the story of an unstoppable train of consecutive changes - and for someone to put their hand up and say "wait - the train stops here and should go no further" is not only futile, but ludicrously arbitrary." 

The idea that changes from outside (particularly from another country) are bad and should be resisted is the same attitude that spawns racism. In fact, I think that if you hate the phrase "touch base" because it's American, then you are a kind of linguistic racist.

So if you object to any particular words or phrases I use on this blog, then I have two words for you...

My bad.

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