steepholm (steepholm) wrote,
steepholm
steepholm

The Price of Good Usage is 24/7 Vigilance

I haven't read any of the 1295 (at the last count) comments on this BBC article about Americanisms and how annoying they are. The list itself is an eclectic one, with people's objections ranging from the aesthetic ("burglarize") to the logical ("I could care less") to a simple dislike of phrases because they are American and we have our own thank you very much (Z pronounced zee).

Quite a few of the items listed don't seem to me to be Americanisms at all, though, and I suspect the US has become a convenient whipping boy for all kinds of pet hates. A person called Gordon Brown (no relation, I assume) objects that "a million and a half" really means 1,000,000.5. Is that an Americanism, or just a piece of pedantry? And what about "Turn that off already" - surely a Jewish idiom on both sides of the Atlantic? "That'll learn you" has always existed here, and "gotten" ("It makes me shudder," says Julie Marrs of Warrington) was merely on holiday from the seventeenth century to the twentieth. While Julie Marrs is shuddering at "gotten", John in London finds that "oftentimes" makes him "shiver with annoyance" - though that is hardly an American coinage either. Such physicality in their reactions!

Ah, but "Is physicality a real word?" asks one bemused correspondent, resident in the US. Why yes, yes it is, both there and here. The fact that you first come across a word in the States, doesn't make it an Americanism.

Just a heads up, going forward.
Tags: language
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