July 5th, 2005

Flowers: Pansies

Divided by a common language??

The following article appeared in my writing magazine and I thought it was intriguing, so I am sharing. I'll be especially interested to see what my American flist people have to say about the truth, or otherwise, of it.

BRITSPEAK GOES STATESIDE

Jolly good show! Encouraging news from across the pond.

Instead of exporting its expressions to Britain, America is now incorporating so-called 'Britspeak' into everyday use, which doesn't please Timothy Jenny, a US journalism professor, who wrote about it the Los Angeles Times.

Perhaps forgetting that it has been one-way traffic in the other direction for decades - 'down-town' and 'movie' will do as a start - he complains that a virus is infecting America speech.

More and more people, in the media and on the streets, are scattering British expressions into their vocabulary in the belief that it makes them sound clever, he says.

Timothy lists a few examples: Americans now 'send up' instead of 'parody'; things reach a 'full stop' instead of just 'ending'; bosses are 'sacked' instead of 'fired'; people talk about 'queuing up' rather than 'lining up'.

He is saddened to see the Washington Post and the New York Times using the British expression 'went missing' instead of the 'sensible' US version 'has disappeared' or 'is lost'.

He adds: 'Thanks to our cultural inferiority complex, we are becoming a nation of journalistic copycats, betraying perfectly good American idioms along the way'. Spiffing! Revenge at last.

******

The irony, or otherwise of this article is that I, a Brit, can honestly say that I'd never use 'send up', I'd use 'parody' and have to say that I always thought that was British. And I also use 'sacked' and 'fired' pretty much interchangeably and wouldn't have known, without consulting a dictionary which was British and which was American! But 'spiffing', ah, yes, very British :-) Fellow Brits - any comments???
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