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calendar   Tuesday - June 05, 2012

American words are mangling our English.

I read this the other day, posting because it bothers me. Darn if everything doesn’t bug me these days.
I read this and thought, hey guy. You make it look like we forced it on your country. Anyway, he has so much I think is wrong for a guy who actually is smart and writes books that are good etc. But I’m bugged anyway.
Take a look.

Don’t talk garbage!...or why American words are mangling our English

By CHRISTOPHER STEVENS

The most delicate tool ever invented is the English language. It is endlessly rich, subtle, mellifluous and diverse — a vast mechanism built from 220,000 words, perfectly formed components that work together like jewelled cogs.

To wreck that mechanism deliberately — and to teach our children to do the same — would be worse than obscene. But that is what is happening.

A survey of 74,000 short stories written by British children has revealed that Americanisms are destroying traditional British words.

Like the grey squirrels that were introduced into the UK from the U.S. 130 years ago — and have almost wiped out our indigenous (and much lovelier) red squirrels — American words are infectious, destructive and virulent. And they are taking over.

Yeah okay. Lets talk for a second about that miserable grey rodent. The grey squirrel.
Just who Mr. Stevens brought the itty-bitty cute little things to these shores?
One of your own. That’s who.

the first greys were brought here from North America in 1876. Over the years more were introduced, notably by the Duke of Bedford to the park at Woburn Abbey where they thrived.  http://www.squirrels.info/uk/in_uk.htm

Well pardon me if American English is not only meant to be easy to use but damn well descriptive as well.

American words are designed to be easy to use. They are simple to say and spell. They combine nouns and verbs, labels and instructions, so that they are convenient to pick up and apply. A country of immigrants, speaking a dissonant babel of Yiddish, Italian, Gaelic, Dutch, Norwegian, German, Polish and Russian, needed a common tongue.

Take sidewalk, for instance: it refers to that part of a road (the side) reserved for pedestrians (who walk). Two simple words are compounded to replace a third, pavement.

Yet pavement is a wonderful word, a fragment of old French that resonates with the ringing blows of medieval craftsmen as they laid a stone floor — pavire is the Latin word for beating or ramming down. Why must we in Britain discard a beautiful, meaningful word, and replace it with a Frankenstein creation?

American-English is a compound language — a language in kit form. Any word can perform any function. Listen to the jargon of a burger-flipper at fast-food restaurant: ‘Welcome to the drivethru,’ ‘What’s your order?’ ‘Do you want fries with that?’ ‘I’ve actioned it,’ ‘Have a nice day.’

Drivethru might be the worst of all possible words. It takes a verb and a preposition, and screws them together (Americans love doing that: walkup, stopover, hangout). Then it mangles the spelling.

Finally, it applies this hideous, mongrel expression to a place where the food isn’t fit for dogs.

In English, you can order your food, but food isn’t an order; you can fry potatoes, but they’ll be chips, not fries; you can take action and see action, but you can’t simply action anything.

The findings of the survey, by the Oxford University Press, revealed yesterday that British children no longer know the difference between real English and its half-delinquent American cousin.

Why isn’t sidewalk correct? It’s a walkway by the roadside. No? Yes?  Floor. Now there’s a great word. When I read articles about people being injured or knocked down, the Brit press describes it as, someone was knocked down to the floor. Never mind it wasn’t indoors but out of doors. So GROUND I think should be the right word but here it’s all ‘floor.’
Here’s another word that drives me bananas when I see it used or hear it spoken.

Pressurized. 

Over here, if I wanted to say for example that I felt pressured to do something or act in some way, the word used here is not pressured but pressurized.
I felt I was pressurized into making that chess move.  Instead of pressured. That just doesn’t look or sound right. But that’s how it’s used here. I guess Mr. Stevens wouldn’t approve of the American use.

Oh yeah and lets get chips and fries out of the way. Picky-picky. First of all they are fried damn it. So we call em the way we sees em. Chips are these, these
how do I describe a chip. A particle?  I don’t care if Brits want to call em chips. Go in good health and enjoy but don’t tell us that potatoes that are fried are not fries.  And I especially don’t care for his put down regarding the food not being fit.  Jeesh. I’ll let you guys fill in the rest.
I know Drew can pick it apart better then I will.

Hey .... why is “goods train” any more descriptive or any better then “freight train?” If it’s hauling a load somewhere it’s what?  Freight. No?

U.S. English is sometimes called globish, bundling ‘global’ and ‘English’ into one concept. And as we know, some Americans have a rare ability to bundle all kinds of words together.

George W. Bush was capable of saying: ‘They misunderestimated me,’ and ‘Is our children learning?’ This was a president who treated English the way a horde of squatters treat a stately home — barging in, kicking holes in the walls, and generally leaving it in a foul mess.

Uh huh. Excuse me sir but I believe the squatter thing is STILL an English problem your govt. hasn’t done anything about yet. They said they would.
And you won’t find Americans that would put up with that in the USA. But in your country it’s always open season.
And I don’t believe Bush ever said Is our children learning unless that’s one line taken out of a line or a paragraph.  I never heard him say misunderestimated either. Did any of you because he could have and I just missed it.

Of course, language is not a fixed thing that must not be tampered with. It has been evolving for 1,500 years, and in that time English has absorbed the vocabularies and grammars of half the world, as traders, invaders and refugees brought new words and ways of speaking to these shores.

It has been shaped and honed by the greatest poets who ever spoke in any tongue, from Chaucer and Shakespeare to John Betjeman and Dylan Thomas.

But the coarse, half-articulate version called American-English is not an evolution. It’s a degraded version.

Two centuries ago, British abolitionists fought the American slave trade. Now a new campaign of abolition is needed — to rid us of American-English.

For everyone who is fed up of hearing drugstore instead of chemist; windshield instead of windscreen; hood instead of bonnet; cookbook instead of cookery book; gas instead of petrol; cranky instead of irritable; smart instead of clever and subway instead of underground — we do not have to tolerate it. Throw these words out!

In Minnesota and Mississippi, the inhabitants are welcome to talk as they

Many words that seem American actually originated in the UK

wish. But in Birmingham, Blackburn and Barnstaple, we do not have to mimic them.

We need not replace our dustbin lorries with garbage trucks, our newspaper cuttings with clippings, our courgettes with zucchinis, our drawing pins with thumbtacks.

And we must resist all pressure to add prepositions to words that don’t require them. It’s fine to meet a friend — there’s no need to ‘meet with’ anyone. Why would you want to ‘reach out to’ someone when you can just ask?

When I was a boy, growing up in Stratford-upon-Avon, decades before the banking crisis and international terrorism stifled the tourist trade, Americans were everywhere. They came in homage to Shakespeare, while committing cheerful barbarisms on the bard’s language.

I admired their lack of hypocrisy — the way they’d buy the best seats at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, for instance, and then leave at the first interval, because they didn’t understand a word of it (I also liked the way this gave me a free seat for the second half.)

I learned that we were, as the playwright George Bernard Shaw put it, two countries divided by a common language.

What the tourists seemed to think, though, was that we Brits were putting it on, that our accents and vocabulary were an act, an entertainment for the benefit of U.S. visitors.

‘Do y’all really say “fortnight”?’ a woman once gasped at me. ‘How do ya even remember a word like that?’

In 1921, American journalist H. L. Mencken argued that, as his nation comprised twice as many citizens as our little island, and was a burgeoning superpower compared with our fading Empire, his language outgunned ours.

‘When two-thirds of the people who use a certain language decide to call it a freight train instead of a goods train, they are right,’ he wrote. ‘The first is correct usage and the second a dialect.’

That’s provocative and witty, but wrong. Linguists estimate that a working knowledge of American globish needs just 1,500 words, not even 1 per cent of the content of the Oxford English Dictionary. The rest is wasted.

If I am writing in dialect, it’s a dialect that is 100 times more beautiful and precise and fascinating and expressive than the debased version that Mencken wanted to foist upon us.

It contains words such as foist, for a start. And burgeoning. And mellifluous, a word I used at the top of this page: it comes from the Latin words mel, or honey, and fluere, meaning flow.

Flowing like honey — that is just what our language does. And that’s the way that British children should learn to speak it.

AMERICAN USE OF ENGLISH SOURCE

I let the darnedest things get to me. 


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Posted by peiper   United Kingdom  on 06/05/2012 at 03:44 PM   
Filed Under: • Colleges-ProfessorsEducationUKUSA •  
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