Will the increasing use of Americanisms destroy the English Language?
March 27, 2009 10:19am CST
The English Language that I was taught in School is gradually changing through misuse by native English speakers, newspapers and magazines but I think mostly by the use of more American words and spelling. For magazines the Readers Digest must be one of the worst. On almost every page you find a sentence beginning with "but" or "and". This would have brought severe punishment if I had done that in school. In my business travels I had more problems with English in America than any other country. Trying to avoid Scottish words and speak clearly did not help much. So many words have different meanings. Many years ago I had a relationship with a beautiful American lady. We had many language difficulties and some really funny experiences through using words which meant something different to the other person. She promised me a good breakfast with biscuits. The "biscuits" turned out to be scones, totally different to what I was expecting. Her chocolate chip "cookies" were in fact biscuits. Cookies for me should be puffy, soft and sometimes filled with cream. Although confused often by the names I did enjoy her cooking and tasted Pumpkin Pie and Corn Bread for the first time. I of course introduced her to Haggis, Steak Pie, and many of my Chinese and Indian specialities. Now come the real embarrassing bits. I took her to Scotland and within an hour of meeting my sister she said "Since I got to know your brother my fanny has got a lot bigger". Luckily I heard the comment and was able to quickly explain that she meant she had put some weight on her backside. In the UK a "fanny" is what is sometimes called a "p---y"! So ladies, if somebody in the UK is patting your fanny they are getting really friendly. In a shop in Glasgow I was looking for a jacket and trousers. I took two of each into a cubicle and tried on the jackets but was not sure and went out wearing one to let my friend see it. She agreed that it did not look good and just as I was re-entering the cubicle she shouted out so that everyone in the large shop heard "Did you try on the pants?". I could not get out the shop quickly enough. In Scotland pants are what we wear under our trousers and not normally tried on before purchase! We are still "good friends" and often laugh about our experiences. Here in Germany the children are being taught American English in their school "English" classes. Tomato is pronounced "toe mate o" and not "toe matt o" as it should be. The word "often" is also mispronounced. The "T" should be silent like the "P" in bath. Fine, if thats what the authorities want and parents accept it but at least call it "American". Has anyone had similar experiences or have other examples to quote? Should we try to fight it and continue to write centre, humour, criticise, familiarise etc. or should we just give in and admit defeat for the first time in the history of the British Empire?
27 Mar 09
I know what you mean, but language isn't a stable entity and it never has been. If you compare "English" from any era in history, it often barely resembles another version. Language evolves all the time with slang and dialects and cultures constantly mixing and growing. It's not something that can be halted, we just have to move with the times! Something that does annoy me is laziness though. Text speak for example. There's no lyrical beauty to it and the English vocabulary is so rich and varied that people should experiment with it more and not just chop down words to the most basic form imaginable. That's just my quirky ideals though. I love my language!
• United States
27 Mar 09
I like you explinations, it helps to understand what you mean because I am an American that does not get to travel much. I think that we should just agree to call it a dialect of the English language. Here in schools they teach Spanish, but it is Spain's Spanish and not Mexico's, this leads to the learning of a language that is quite different than the dialect spoken in Mexico. It is even more different than the dialect spoken in the border area in Texas. I listen to my native Spanish speaking friends talk about the differences and their stories are much like yours.