?

Log in

No account? Create an account

Look Back | Look Forward

Language Snobbery.

50 Americanisms the Brits Love to hate - from the BBC News.


The Magazine's recent piece on Americanisms entering the language in the UK prompted thousands of you to e-mail examples.

Some are useful, while some seem truly unnecessary, argued Matthew Engel in the article. Here are 50 of the most e-mailed.

1. When people ask for something, I often hear: "Can I get a..." It infuriates me. It's not New York. It's not the 90s. You're not in Central Perk with the rest of the Friends. Really." Steve, Rossendale, Lancashire

2. The next time someone tells you something is the "least worst option", tell them that their most best option is learning grammar. Mike Ayres, Bodmin, Cornwall

3. The phrase I've watched seep into the language (especially with broadcasters) is "two-time" and "three-time". Have the words double, triple etc, been totally lost? Grammatically it makes no sense, and is even worse when spoken. My pulse rises every time I hear or see it. Which is not healthy as it's almost every day now. Argh! D Rochelle, Bath

4. Using 24/7 rather than "24 hours, 7 days a week" or even just plain "all day, every day". Simon Ball, Worcester

5. The one I can't stand is "deplane", meaning to disembark an aircraft, used in the phrase "you will be able to deplane momentarily". TykeIntheHague, Den Haag, Holland

6. To "wait on" instead of "wait for" when you're not a waiter - once read a friend's comment about being in a station waiting on a train. For him, the train had yet to arrive - I would have thought rather that it had got stuck at the station with the friend on board. T Balinski, Raglan, New Zealand

7. "It is what it is". Pity us. Michael Knapp, Chicago, US

8. Dare I even mention the fanny pack? Lisa, Red Deer, Canada

9. "Touch base" - it makes me cringe no end. Chris, UK

10. Is "physicality" a real word? Curtis, US

11. Transportation. What's wrong with transport? Greg Porter, Hercules, CA, US

12. The word I hate to hear is "leverage". Pronounced lev-er-ig rather than lee-ver -ig. It seems to pop up in all aspects of work. And its meaning seems to have changed to "value added". Gareth Wilkins, Leicester

13. Does nobody celebrate a birthday anymore, must we all "turn" 12 or 21 or 40? Even the Duke of Edinburgh was universally described as "turning" 90 last month. When did this begin? I quite like the phrase in itself, but it seems to have obliterated all other ways of speaking about birthdays. Michael McAndrew, Swindon

14. I caught myself saying "shopping cart" instead of shopping trolley today and was thoroughly disgusted with myself. I've never lived nor been to the US either. Graham Nicholson, Glasgow

15. What kind of word is "gotten"? It makes me shudder. Julie Marrs, Warrington

16. "I'm good" for "I'm well". That'll do for a start. Mike, Bridgend, Wales

17. "Bangs" for a fringe of the hair. Philip Hall, Nottingham

18. Take-out rather than takeaway! Simon Ball, Worcester

19. I enjoy Americanisms. I suspect even some Americans use them in a tongue-in-cheek manner? "That statement was the height of ridiculosity". Bob, Edinburgh

20. "A half hour" instead of "half an hour". EJB, Devon

21. A "heads up". For example, as in a business meeting. Lets do a "heads up" on this issue. I have never been sure of the meaning. R Haworth, Marlborough

22. Train station. My teeth are on edge every time I hear it. Who started it? Have they been punished? Chris Capewell, Queens Park, London

23. To put a list into alphabetical order is to "alphabetize it" - horrid! Chris Fackrell, York

24. People that say "my bad" after a mistake. I don't know how anything could be as annoying or lazy as that. Simon Williamson, Lymington, Hampshire

25. "Normalcy" instead of "normality" really irritates me. Tom Gabbutt, Huddersfield

26. As an expat living in New Orleans, it is a very long list but "burglarize" is currently the word that I most dislike. Simon, New Orleans

27. "Oftentimes" just makes me shiver with annoyance. Fortunately I've not noticed it over here yet. John, London

28. Eaterie. To use a prevalent phrase, oh my gaad! Alastair, Maidstone (now in Athens, Ohio)

29. I'm a Brit living in New York. The one that always gets me is the American need to use the word bi-weekly when fortnightly would suffice just fine. Ami Grewal, New York

30. I hate "alternate" for "alternative". I don't like this as they are two distinct words, both have distinct meanings and it's useful to have both. Using alternate for alternative deprives us of a word. Catherine, London

31. "Hike" a price. Does that mean people who do that are hikers? No, hikers are ramblers! M Holloway, Accrington

32. Going forward? If I do I shall collide with my keyboard. Ric Allen, Matlock

33. I hate the word "deliverable". Used by management consultants for something that they will "deliver" instead of a report. Joseph Wall, Newark-on-Trent, Nottinghamshire

34. The most annoying Americanism is "a million and a half" when it is clearly one and a half million! A million and a half is 1,000,000.5 where one and a half million is 1,500,000. Gordon Brown, Coventry

35. "Reach out to" when the correct word is "ask". For example: "I will reach out to Kevin and let you know if that timing is convenient". Reach out? Is Kevin stuck in quicksand? Is he teetering on the edge of a cliff? Can't we just ask him? Nerina, London

36. Surely the most irritating is: "You do the Math." Math? It's MATHS. Michael Zealey, London

37. I hate the fact I now have to order a "regular Americano". What ever happened to a medium sized coffee? Marcus Edwards, Hurst Green

38. My worst horror is expiration, as in "expiration date". Whatever happened to expiry? Christina Vakomies, London

39. My favourite one was where Americans claimed their family were "Scotch-Irish". This of course it totally inaccurate, as even if it were possible, it would be "Scots" not "Scotch", which as I pointed out is a drink. James, Somerset

40.I am increasingly hearing the phrase "that'll learn you" - when the English (and more correct) version was always "that'll teach you". What a ridiculous phrase! Tabitha, London

41. I really hate the phrase: "Where's it at?" This is not more efficient or informative than "where is it?" It just sounds grotesque and is immensely irritating. Adam, London

42. Period instead of full stop. Stuart Oliver, Sunderland

43. My pet hate is "winningest", used in the context "Michael Schumacher is the winningest driver of all time". I can feel the rage rising even using it here. Gayle, Nottingham

44. My brother now uses the term "season" for a TV series. Hideous. D Henderson, Edinburgh

45. Having an "issue" instead of a "problem". John, Leicester

46. I hear more and more people pronouncing the letter Z as "zee". Not happy about it! Ross, London

47. To "medal" instead of to win a medal. Sets my teeth on edge with a vengeance. Helen, Martock, Somerset

48. "I got it for free" is a pet hate. You got it "free" not "for free". You don't get something cheap and say you got it "for cheap" do you? Mark Jones, Plymouth

49. "Turn that off already". Oh dear. Darren, Munich

50. "I could care less" instead of "I couldn't care less" has to be the worst. Opposite meaning of what they're trying to say. Jonathan, Birmingham


My favorite comment, by JD554, came in just as the site administrators closed the comment thread:

Hwæt! Wé Gárdena in géardagum
þéodcyninga þrym gefrúnon
hú ðá æþelingas ellen fremedon
.

I trust everyone who has complained about Americanisms creeping in to the English language will have no trouble understanding the above. That's what English looked like around 1,300 years ago.

Language evolves.


Language snobbery, like its close cousins in the beer, wine and fashion worlds, is simply another way to stroke one's own ego and marginalize the vast majority of the world for the crime of not thinking like the indulger. Quite entertaining to watch from the sidelines, actually. A reality show based on people's arrogance might could be a winner. (Utah double modal used deliberately.)


Support Wind Power

respective-eponymous

Comments

bayliss
Aug. 6th, 2011 07:01 pm (UTC)
I have actually installed a British spell checker on a couple of programs in my computer so that when I e-mail a few of my UK friends I can spell things like they prefer. I honestly like the British spelling of colour and favour. *smiles*

what's amusing is checking out the Slang dictionary and seeing the Americanisms in it. http://www.peevish.co.uk/slang/
torakiyoshi
Aug. 6th, 2011 07:18 pm (UTC)
It makes me sad, how few people will let me spell "cheque" properly. A check is a chevron added to a list when an item is completed. A cheque is a bank note whose monetary value is determined by the issuer.

But yes, in general, I agree with your statement on the situation.

Edited at 2011-08-06 07:18 pm (UTC)
ccdesan
Aug. 6th, 2011 11:06 pm (UTC)
And see, everyone does spell "check" properly. "Cheque" is not something that's been used in American English for a long, long time. The nice thing about being a writer is that you determine your own usage, so if you want to write "cheque," or "Hallowe'en," or "Hawai'i," or "Saviour," you can do it. I regularly use Latin plurals such as "addenda" or "fora" or "moratoria," just because that's what I grew up with and I see no need to change. Plus it honks people off.



And the plural of "Sphinx" is properly "Sphinges."
torakiyoshi
Aug. 7th, 2011 12:12 am (UTC)
Ooh, ooh, here's a fun one. There are certain people in the world who get angry over the unwashed heathens who use the anglicized plural of "octopus," "octopusses." Those people say that it is rather a Latin word, and therefore the plural is "octopi." Except that "octo" and "pod" (whose plural is "pes" or "pus") are both Greek words, meaning "eight feet." Which indicates that the word is from ancient Greek, and therefore the correct plural is "octopedes," or "octipedes." It must have been stolen by the barbarians in Latium and bastardized into their tongue, from which it was bastardized into Anglican.
ccdesan
Aug. 7th, 2011 02:59 am (UTC)
Yes, yes - that's excellent. Don't forget platypodes, schemata and stigmata. Phalanges falls into the same category as Sphinx. Of course, this is all pedantic ephemera. There's only one that really grates on me like fingernails on a chalkboard, and that's only because I lived in Italy for so long... one goes into a deli and orders a panino, please - or two panini, but never two paninis. Aurggh!
torakiyoshi
Aug. 7th, 2011 06:14 am (UTC)
Yep. We all have our pet peves when it comes to the spoken word. I was once screamed at and threatened with violence because I used the word, "Irregardless." The screamer did not back down when I demonstrated that the OED includes the word (her primary source of all things truly English, even in American-English), and does not list it as a colloquialism.
ccdesan
Aug. 7th, 2011 03:36 pm (UTC)
Screamer? Really? Wow, someone needs more Valium...
torakiyoshi
Aug. 7th, 2011 07:54 pm (UTC)
Among other things. :)
carlfoxmarten
Aug. 6th, 2011 08:24 pm (UTC)
There are several items in here that I totally agree with, but there are also many things in here that I have to disagree on.

Most of the ones I agree with are propagated by the uneducated ("I'll learn you") or those that want to obfuscate their utterances ("going forward" and "deliverables" in particular)

However, "math" (just like "Lego") should never be plural...
oceansedge
Aug. 6th, 2011 11:35 pm (UTC)
Amen
ccdesan
Aug. 7th, 2011 03:00 am (UTC)
Re: Amen
I do love that....
fearciuil
Aug. 7th, 2011 12:28 am (UTC)
This blog had two posts devoted to precisely that list:

Part 1

Part 2

Her points remind me of the James Nicoll quote to which FairportFan has on occasion referred: "The problem with defending the purity of the English language is that English is about as pure as a cribhouse whore. We don't just borrow words; on occasion, English has pursued other languages down alleyways to beat them unconscious and rifle their pockets for new vocabulary."

(Of course, I've recently been listening to the soundtrack to May Fair Lady, too, and "Why Can't the English Teach their Children How to Speak" has some utterly hilarious moments when you start to realize how linguistically stodgy Prof. Higgins really is....)
ccdesan
Aug. 7th, 2011 03:01 am (UTC)
Gold star for correctly attributing Nicoll, and for providing the correct quote.

I love the line about the French not caring what anyone says as long as it's pronounced correctly...

And thank you for those blog post links, they're very good.

Edited at 2011-08-07 03:03 am (UTC)
dhlawrence
Aug. 7th, 2011 03:34 am (UTC)
There are some places where English completely disappears
The Americans haven't used it for years!
torakiyoshi
Aug. 7th, 2011 06:16 am (UTC)
Yes, and "Canadians: spell like Brits, speak like Americans." Besides, Canadians live on North America, too. So you're Americans! Hnyeah! ;)
dhlawrence
Aug. 7th, 2011 09:27 pm (UTC)
Someone has to show you how it's done! :P
secoh
Aug. 7th, 2011 06:49 am (UTC)
Bah, you're just bent because you've been doing it wrong all these years :-P

I do have a go at Americanisms but when used in America it's no big deal really as languages do change and evolve depending on location.

What does piss me off in a major way is American corporations forcing American spelling on everyone. There is no way to get an Apple product to recognise UK or Australian English, and for many years Microsoft Australian English would default to US English. We would have to set everything to UK English to get it to spell correctly.
r_caton
Aug. 7th, 2011 02:27 pm (UTC)
Apples rotten to the core anyways
ccdesan
Aug. 7th, 2011 03:28 pm (UTC)
That's a totally legitimate complaint. Of course, we all know why it's that way:

dhlawrence
Aug. 7th, 2011 09:28 pm (UTC)
I think I managed to get mine to recognize Canadian English; I don't use iWork so I couldn't say for sure. Microsoft Word does whatever it feels like.
r_caton
Aug. 7th, 2011 02:25 pm (UTC)
Great to see yuh bigging up majority use of English.
kelloggs2066
Aug. 7th, 2011 09:28 pm (UTC)
I spent years listening to Brits complain about America.

I got tired of it and stopped listening.

Profile

Fortunata
ccdesan
The Old Wolf
Website

Latest Month

April 2017
S M T W T F S
      1
2345678
9101112131415
16171819202122
23242526272829
30      

Tags

Powered by LiveJournal.com