The Britishisation of American English
Posted: 17 October 2012 01:38 PM   [ Ignore ]
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The Britishisation of American English

Ugh, that’s twice I had to write out that ugly first term. The article is from the BBC Magazine and I wonder how accurate it is on American usage.

Here’s the opening:

There is little that irks British defenders of the English language more than Americanisms, which they see creeping insidiously into newspaper columns and everyday conversation. But bit by bit British English is invading America too.

“Spot on - it’s just ludicrous!” snaps Geoffrey Nunberg, a linguist at the University of California at Berkeley.

“You are just impersonating an Englishman when you say spot on. Will do - I hear that from Americans. That should be put into quarantine,” he adds.

And don’t get him started on the chattering classes - its overtones of a distinctly British class system make him quiver.

But not everyone shares his revulsion at the drip, drip, drip of Britishisms - to use an American term - crossing the Atlantic.

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Posted: 17 October 2012 02:25 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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I haven’t heard gormless on this side, through I wouldn’t mind at all if it caught on.  I haven’t heard gastropub either, and I’m happy about that.  Although I might enjoy such a place, I find the term revolting; it makes me think of slugs.

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Posted: 17 October 2012 03:10 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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I’m quite happy myself to have avoided gastropub until now. Gormless is a Northern term that I first came across as a lad and irritated my parents by constantly using it for a week or so at home until my father invoked paterfamiliar power and forbad all further use of it within his walls.

The use of university, rather than college or school, for example, may well be used by Americans to make sure they are understood outside the country.

Is the word not used as much in the US?

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Posted: 17 October 2012 03:47 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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aldiboronti - 17 October 2012 03:10 PM

I’m quite happy myself to have avoided gastropub until now. Gormless is a Northern term that I first came across as a lad and irritated my parents by constantly using it for a week or so at home until my father invoked paterfamiliar power and forbad all further use of it within his walls.

The use of university, rather than college or school, for example, may well be used by Americans to make sure they are understood outside the country.

Is the word not used as much in the US?

Not in that construction.  We might say, “I’m going to college at XYZ University,” or “We have two universities in this town,” but not “I’ll be going to university next year.”

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Posted: 17 October 2012 04:19 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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I think most of the comments on US usage are accurate.  However, I think that “book” a flight/hotel and “reserve” a flight/hotel are both common in the US (and have been for some time).

I have began noticing “sell by date” relatively recently here, but hadn’t realized that it was British.  For one thing, while “expiration date” is far more common than “sell-by date” when referring to the useful life of a grocery product, many grocery products literally have the words “sell by” x date printed on them (for example, milk containers have such a phrases).  I don’t doubt that it is a Briticism, but it wasn’t obvious to me that that was what it was, and I could at least imagine an American coming up with “sell by date” independently.

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Posted: 17 October 2012 11:29 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Gormless is common in the north of England. Here’s Michael Quinion on gorm- and similar -less words.

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Posted: 18 October 2012 04:22 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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“expiration date” is far more common than “sell-by date” when referring to the useful life of a grocery product

But in Britain at any rate they aren’t the same thing. The “sell-by date” is, literally, the date by which the item must either be sold or withdrawn from sale. Except in the case of something such as a sandwich which is meant to be consumed the same day, the expiry of the useable life of the product will necessarily be a different and later date. This is either the “use-by date” or “best-before date”, depending on whether they are things like meat and fish which can be actively dangerous to eat if out of date, or things like flour, biscuits, packet soups etc which might just not be terribly nice.

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Posted: 18 October 2012 07:05 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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FWIW, I prefer Briticisation over Britishisation.

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