Americanisms: 50 of your most noted examples
The Magazine's recent piece on Americanisms entering the language in the UK prompted thousands of you to e-mail examples.
Some are useful, while some seem truly unnecessary, argued Matthew Engel in the article. Here are 50 of the most e-mailed.
1. When people ask for something, I often hear: "Can I get a..." It infuriates me. It's not New York. It's not the 90s. You're not in Central Perk with the rest of the Friends. Really." Steve, Rossendale, Lancashire
2. The next time someone tells you something is the "least worst option", tell them that their most best option is learning grammar. Mike Ayres, Bodmin, Cornwall
3. The phrase I've watched seep into the language (especially with broadcasters) is "two-time" and "three-time". Have the words double, triple etc, been totally lost? Grammatically it makes no sense, and is even worse when spoken. My pulse rises every time I hear or see it. Which is not healthy as it's almost every day now. Argh! D Rochelle, Bath
4. Using 24/7 rather than "24 hours, 7 days a week" or even just plain "all day, every day". Simon Ball, Worcester
5. The one I can't stand is "deplane", meaning to disembark an aircraft, used in the phrase "you will be able to deplane momentarily".TykeIntheHague, Den Haag, Holland
6. To "wait on" instead of "wait for" when you're not a waiter - once read a friend's comment about being in a station waiting on a train. For him, the train had yet to arrive - I would have thought rather that it had got stuck at the station with the friend on board. T Balinski, Raglan, New Zealand
Continue reading the main storyA US reader writes...
JP Spore believes there is nothing wrong with English evolving
Languages are, by their very nature, shifting, malleable things that morph according to the needs and desires of those who speak them.
Mr Engel suggests that British English should be preserved, but it seems to me this both lacks a historical perspective of the language, as well as an ignorance of why it is happening.
English itself is a rather complicated, interesting blend of Germanic, French and Latin (among other things). It has arrived at this point through the long and torturous process of assimilation and modification. The story of the English language is the story of an unstoppable train of consecutive changes - and for someone to put their hand up and say "wait - the train stops here and should go no further" is not only futile, but ludicrously arbitrary.
Why here? Why not stop it 20 years ago? Or 20 years hence? If we're going to just set an arbitrary limit on language change, why not choose the year 1066 AD? The Saxons had some cool words, right?
Mr Engel - and all language Luddites on both sides of the Atlantic, including more than a few here in the States - really need to get over it when their countrymen find more value in non-native words than in their native lexicon.
I understand the argument about loss of cultural identity, but if so many people are so willing to give up traditional forms and phrases maybe we should consider that they didn't have as much value as we previously imagined.
7. "It is what it is". Pity us. Michael Knapp, Chicago, US
8. Dare I even mention the fanny pack? Lisa, Red Deer, Canada
9. "Touch base" - it makes me cringe no end.Chris, UK
10. Is "physicality" a real word? Curtis, US
11. Transportation. What's wrong with transport? Greg Porter, Hercules, CA, US
12. The word I hate to hear is "leverage". Pronounced lev-er-ig rather than lee-ver -ig. It seems to pop up in all aspects of work. And its meaning seems to have changed to "value added". Gareth Wilkins, Leicester
13. Does nobody celebrate a birthday anymore, must we all "turn" 12 or 21 or 40? Even the Duke of Edinburgh was universally described as "turning" 90 last month. When did this begin? I quite like the phrase in itself, but it seems to have obliterated all other ways of speaking about birthdays. Michael McAndrew, Swindon
14. I caught myself saying "shopping cart" instead of shopping trolley today and was thoroughly disgusted with myself. I've never lived nor been to the US either. Graham Nicholson, Glasgow
15. What kind of word is "gotten"? It makes me shudder. Julie Marrs, Warrington
16. "I'm good" for "I'm well". That'll do for a start. Mike, Bridgend, Wales
17. "Bangs" for a fringe of the hair. Philip Hall, Nottingham
18. Take-out rather than takeaway! Simon Ball, Worcester
19. I enjoy Americanisms. I suspect even some Americans use them in a tongue-in-cheek manner? "That statement was the height ofridiculosity". Bob, Edinburgh
20. "A half hour" instead of "half an hour". EJB, Devon
21. A "heads up". For example, as in a business meeting. Lets do a "heads up" on this issue. I have never been sure of the meaning. R Haworth, Marlborough
22. Train station. My teeth are on edge every time I hear it. Who started it? Have they been punished? Chris Capewell, Queens Park, London
23. To put a list into alphabetical order is to "alphabetize it" - horrid!Chris Fackrell, York
24. People that say "my bad" after a mistake. I don't know how anything could be as annoying or lazy as that. Simon Williamson, Lymington, Hampshire