Britain Declares War on Words That Snuck into Our Skedule. Last Week, Writer Matthew Engel Declared War on the Americanisms That Are Ruining Our Language and Asked Mail on Sunday Readers for Examples of the Ones They Hated Most. He Was Swamped with Replies

The Mail on Sunday (London, England), June 6, 2010 | Go to article overview

Britain Declares War on Words That Snuck into Our Skedule. Last Week, Writer Matthew Engel Declared War on the Americanisms That Are Ruining Our Language and Asked Mail on Sunday Readers for Examples of the Ones They Hated Most. He Was Swamped with Replies


Byline: Matthew Engel

Mark Easton is the BBC home affairs editor. He spent some of his childhood in Winchester, apparently, not Wisconsin. And his job seems unlikely to offer extensive travel opportunities to the United States.

Yet the other night he referred to 'specialty shops' (note the missing i) on the Ten O'Clock News. The rest of his report must have been drowned out by the screaming and spluttering of thousands of Mail on Sunday readers, who share my horror at the way British English is being overwhelmed by a tidal wave of mindless Americanisms.

My article in last week's Review (Say No To The Get-Go) brought forth a huge response, almost all of it supportive. Most gratifyingly, very few of the emails began: 'Hi Matthew.'

I believe language thrives on give and take, but with the United States it is all take. Americans rarely hear any of our words, let alone adopt them. But we are so overwhelmed by everything American that the British have lost their grasp on the difference between our form of English and theirs. This is the reality of 'Can a was cultural imperialism.

Easton was not even speaking good American. 'Specialty stores' would be far more normal in the United States. 'Speciality' (with the i) is a lovely word, full of rolling syllables. His version is the kind of usage that comes out of the mid-Atlantic and needs to be dropped back there, from a great height. And there is a great deal of other useless baggage that needs to be dumped along with it. You offered hundreds more examples.

Top of the long hate-list was probably 'Can I get a coffee?' (and these days it probably would be an overpriced, overmarketed American coffee rather than a nice cup of tea). The answer, says Louisa C., is no '... unless you are planning to clamber over the counter and start fiddling with the steam spouts'.

It was closely followed by 'I'm good' as opposed to 'I'm very well, thank you'. This phrase is even more infuriating when used as an alternative to 'No, thanks', in declining a second helping.

'I just want to yell, "NO, you are NOT good - you might be really, really BAD,"' wailed Patsy Holden.

Other leading hates include 'snuck' as the past tense of 'sneak' and 'dove' as the past tense of 'dive'; driver's license instead of driving licence; overly rather than over; autopsy for post-mortem; burglarized instead of burgled; filling out forms instead of filling them in; fries for chips; chips for crisps; and food to go as opposed to take away. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Britain Declares War on Words That Snuck into Our Skedule. Last Week, Writer Matthew Engel Declared War on the Americanisms That Are Ruining Our Language and Asked Mail on Sunday Readers for Examples of the Ones They Hated Most. He Was Swamped with Replies
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.