Nevermind the Bollocks

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Has the vigorous American tongue become softened by limp-wristed Britishisms? That's what UConn associate journalism professor Timothy Kenny complains in today's L.A. Times:

In major newspapers and in broadcast media, we "send up" instead of "parody"; our thoughts reach a "full stop" instead of merely ending. A correct answer is "spot on" rather than "dead on." And corporate heads get "sacked" instead of "fired."

More widely used are "went missing" and its close relative, "gone missing." Over the last 10 years, the elite American news media have begun to use the phrases willy-nilly, avoiding the perfectly good American "has disappeared" or "is lost."

Bloody MSM turncoats! Anyway, despite Kenny's royalist assertion that "that's not the way we talk in this country," at the end of the day, it's the language wot incorporates foreign words that kicks arse, full stop. Linguistic protectionism is for the Frogs.

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  1. Linguistic protectionism is for the Frogs.

    Ha-ha!! But then, what’s a good partisan hack’s rhetorical life without a little aping of his adversaries every now and again…and again and again…?

  2. As long as folks don’t start adopting a fake accent – like Madonna and overweight Python fans – I’m okay with this development.

    Cheers.

  3. As we say here in London, get a life!
    You guys make us so pissed with your bitching about English-isms creeping into American.

  4. America and England…two countries separated by a common language. I forget who said that, but it seemed appropot.

    I’m still trying to figure out how we went from ‘her-ASSED’ to ‘HAIR-est’ when reporting on sexual harrasement.

    But as long as the prez sez ‘nukuler’ instead of ‘nuclear’, we yanks are doing just fine.

    Cheerio

  5. gabe — In fairness to the Yanks, this is *not* a common complaint at all. Least not here in limp-wristed Hollywood….

  6. Although linguistic protectionism is indeed idiotic, I must admit I detest British slang and all its false bonhomie. Forgive me Brian, but I become homicidal whenever I hear ‘Cheers’ (or, a thousand times worse, ‘Cheers, mate’) when what is meant is ‘Excuse me’ or ‘Thank you’ or ‘Goodbye’.

  7. “I’m still trying to figure out how we went from ‘her-ASSED’ to ‘HAIR-est’ when reporting on sexual harrasement.”

    Because it sounds like “her ass”.

  8. Did you hear about the time Dan Quayle beat Ted Kennedy (Bill Clinton, Gary Hart, etc) in a spelling bee? He was the only one who knew “harass” was one word.

  9. Brian…youdaman

  10. I must admit I detest British slang and all its false bonhomie.

    Yeah! We properly formal Americans would NEVER resort to calling a total stranger “Yo” or “Bud” or “Chief” or…

  11. Why do you hate freedom so much?

  12. …and where are the Sex Pistols?

    It would be worse under Kerry — we’d be incorporating French phrases.

  13. Word use is a market like any other. What kind of weirdo gives a toss if people get use out of foreign colloquialisms? Only some sort of pendant in a posh ivory tower, peddling dodgy ideas.

  14. Not to say there’s anything wrong with expressing a taste, as long as you don’t try to inflate it into an issue. I find pretentious insertions of words from other languages annoying (say, the increasingly rare American-born prat who has to use tres instead of “very” every single time).

  15. I must admit I detest British slang and all its false bonhomie. Forgive me Brian, but I become homicidal whenever I hear ‘Cheers’ (or, a thousand times worse, ‘Cheers, mate’) when what is meant is ‘Excuse me’ or ‘Thank you’ or ‘Goodbye’.

    A man after my own heart. I used to have a boss who said stuff like “A to Zed” and “I’ll ring you” (as well as “Cheers, mate” in all the situations you mention). He was a stupid get.

  16. I think it’s all the Canadians crossing the border. Blame Canada. Or at least Peter Jennings.

  17. My sentences don’t just end; it’s just that my full stops are called periods, prompting a British friend to offer multiple wisecracks about menstruation.

  18. ah ben cused a habin a sothern drawl. Don’t tho. Ebberbudy dowan har unnerstand me. An ebberybody post to unnerstand me

  19. He was a stupid get

    Its git, you prat.

  20. Its git, you prat.

    What d’y’expect from a drongo like him.

    See, just hope nobody starts importing STRYNE.

    Now, there’s a language I’d hate to have to relearn.

  21. Could this be an artifact of stateside magazine and newpaper publishers installing Limeys in key editorial spots over the past decade plus? Evans, Brown, TNR‘s Andrew Sullivan and NR‘s John O’Sullivan. The latter two have Irish heritage, but were raised in England. Then there are jump-the-pond types like Cockburn and Hitchens, (U.S. citizen) Tony Blankley, most of the drama and comedy on PBS. Heck, UK writers have even “stolen” jobs from `Merkins in the comic book business.

    The USA attracts talent, even forelock-tugging, tea-slurping, marmite munching, footie-watching talent. I’m much more annoyed by USAns who fell in love with crap like Majesty magazine, the cult of the royals, and the erroneous idea that punk rock was a UK import. At least we haven’t fallen for Robbie Williams, yet.

    BTW, when is the new Harry Potter out, again?

    Kevin

  22. Some years ago ona shortbtrip to London with my wife and her parents I was amused to see my mother-in-law’s reaction to an add on a beauty shop window “BLOW JOB 5 quid” Later that night the desk clerk at the hotel,asked if we wanted to be ‘knocked up” the next morning. It is a different language , you know mate?

  23. The most irritating to me is “he had not got out of bed yet,” or “they had not got the test results.” When did that most Brrritish of usages start over here?

  24. Didn’t Noah Webster start this whole language rift out of spite?

    colour to color, etc.

  25. One common language I’m afraid we’ll never get.
    Oh, why can’t the English learn to set
    A good example to people whose
    English is painful to your ears?
    The Scotch and the Irish leave you close to tears.
    There even are places where English completely
    disappears. In America, they haven’t used it for years!

  26. I –> OE
    find –> OE
    pretentious –> Fr
    insertions –> Fr
    of –> OE
    words –> OE
    from –> OE
    other –> OE
    languages –> Fr
    annoying –> Fr

    ps – “_Munching_ marmite”?

  27. Where I work, we have a lot of transplanted Scots. I’ve fallen in love with the Scottish word “outwith,” and use it with great relish. But no American English speaker seems to misunderstand me.

    Since I used it out of context… it means something like “except,” but is closer to “outside of.” Or, more precisely, it’s the opposite of “within.”

  28. raymond: seems if I read somewhere that English is a Germanic language. Works for me! Blame it all on the Germans.

  29. Yes, raymond, marmite.

    http://www.marmite.com/

    I could have mentioned Bovril, but I wanted the alliteration.

    Kevin

  30. wots a marmite, eh?

  31. America and England…two countries separated by a common language. I forget who said that, but it seemed appropot.

    I think it was George Bernard Shaw, but I’m not sure.

    Didn’t Noah Webster start this whole language rift out of spite?

    colour to color, etc.

    That’s just spelling. The language divide goes back much further. Fischer shows in Albion’s Seed that the various American dialects go back to the mother country, in that many of the odd lexical items and pronunciations you find here actually go back a long ways in the area of Britain the settlers were from. For example, the Scotch-Irish were being called “rednecks” long before they ever crossed the Atlantic, after their religion at the time (Presbyterian). Couple the original dialects with colonial conservatism (preserve as much of the culture you’re comfortable with as possible in the new, alien environment), and you get American English.

    raymond: seems if I read somewhere that English is a Germanic language. Works for me! Blame it all on the Germans.

    And English is indeed Germanic. Related closely to Dutch, Frisian, and all the other Low German dialects.

  32. I –> OE
    find –> OE
    pretentious –> Fr
    insertions –> Fr

    There’s a vast difference between the use of English words of foreign origin – or even foreign words like “schadenfreund” that convey a unique and specific meaning – and substituting common words with the equivalents from other languages as an affectation.

  33. England- the land where children use rubbers and men smoke faggots.

  34. A lot in common with San Francisco?

  35. You’re a bunch of bloody wankers, the lot of you! There you are, prattlin’ on like stupid gits with your half-arsed theories. Well, I say bollocks to the entire enterprise. Sod off!

    Now, I’m popping out to smoke a fag.

  36. I live in Japan and don’t know any Americans and only Brits. As a result I brought home some completely bastardized English when I visited “The States” a few weeks ago, saying things like “fair play” and raising my intonation into a sing-songy thing at the end. My friends and family wouldn’t let me hear the end of it until I brought back my Ohio mumble. I guess that’s why Americans should never travel…in order to preserve our linguistic culture. That, and also so we don’t learn too much about the outside world.

  37. Advice.
    Don’t ever say that you have been “Bumming around” in earshot of a brit. It means something totally different there.

  38. I haven’t heard, or read, anything about the increased use of Britishisms in the USA. But then, I live in the center of the country, where most trends die out before they even get here.

    I do think the use of certain Southernisms — “reckon” and especially “y’all” — is spreading. I think the latter because of it’s use by urban blacks and hip-hop artists.

    By the way, my cousin married an Australian girl. What we call a “date,” as in a social engagement, I believe they call “an engagement.” In Australia, “date” is slang for “anus.” You don’t ask, “How was your date last night?” in Australia.

  39. “Reckon” has a fine pedigree and is commonly used in Britain.

    But I’ll make a note of the usage warning for Australia. Gives new meaning to the words “date rape”….

  40. England- the land where children use rubbers and men smoke faggots.

    No you eat faggots, and suck on fags. Faggots are balls of meat. A favorite meal for Englishmen is to have some cock-a-leekie soup, for main course have some faggots maybe using cumin to spice things up, after that they’d have spotted dick for dessert followed by an after dinner fag.

  41. Stevo Darkly

    Those travelling to Oz would also be well advised not to say they are “rooting” for a team, and not to mention anyone’s “fanny”.

    I was not familiar with the “date” thing and I lived there for 14 yrs (although that was over 40 yrs ago).

    In the early 50s my mother (shortly after she arrived) was a social pariah for several days because she told the mother of a friend that her son had gotten a “bloody” nose in a fight.

    Michael Keferl

    My mother’s speech is permannently affected by 20 or so yrs in Australia. Her sisters all sound like honest Jersey girls.

    My mother’s speech is also affected by 1930s leftovers. A certain British affectation was considered sophisticated then.

  42. America and England…two countries separated by a common language. I forget who said that, but it seemed appropot.

    Will Rogers, maybe?

  43. Its git, you prat.

    Then how is it John Lennon (no babe in the woods where the sounds of Old Blighty were concerned) rhymed “Have another cigarette” with “Curse Sir Walter Raleigh; he was such a stupid get“?

    When in doubt, trust prosody.

  44. There’s a vast difference between the use of English words of foreign origin – or even foreign words like “schadenfreund” that convey a unique and specific meaning – and substituting common words with the equivalents from other languages as an affectation.

    Affectation is in the eye of the beholder, comes in all shapes, forms and styles, and doesn’t require the use of foreign words.

  45. “at the end of the day, it’s the language wot incorporates foreign words that kicks arse, full stop. Linguistic protectionism is for the Frogs.”

    Smashing! Brilliant! Reason is a bit of all right then, what?

  46. Both get and git are used Over There.

    see:

    http://www.worldwidewords.org/qa/qa-git1.htm

    Kevin

  47. “America and England…two countries separated by a common language. I forget who said that, but it seemed appropot.”

    It was Churchill.

  48. I thought it was Shaw, but it seems to have been attributed to many people.

  49. No, No, it was Oscar Wilde. 🙂

  50. Then how is it John Lennon (no babe in the woods where the sounds of Old Blighty were concerned) rhymed “Have another cigarette” with “Curse Sir Walter Raleigh; he was such a stupid get”?

    Because Lennon was a scouser, and scousers say “get” rather than “git”.

  51. Note to all headline writers and TV commentators:
    No American ever refers to Michael Jackson as “Jacko.” This is a fantasy propagated by British journalists.

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