121: Americanisms (Part 2)

What do British people think of certain bits of American English usage? Are they right?


Right-click here to download this episode. 

Transcript
Hi listeners, and welcome back to Luke’s English Podcast. This episode is the continuation of the last one which was all about Americanisms. In that episode I went through a list of American expressions which British people don’t like. This is a list, published by the BBC of comments made by British people about American expressions that they hate.

Yes, ‘hate’. It’s a pretty strong word to use but bascially, British people can be very sensitive about hearing American expressions used in British English. Many of them just don’t like it. It infuriates them, causes their blood pressure to rise and their blood to boil. But is it really worth getting so angry about the way British English is influenced by American English? Are the expressions genuinely wrong grammatically? In most cases, I don’t think so. Most of the expressions are grammatically ok. They’re just examples of standard conventions of American English, and it’s quite natural for American English to influence British English. We watch American TV shows, interact with Americans on the internet and meet more and more American people in our daily lives.

Perhaps some Americanisms sound less sophisticated than their British equivalents, but in fact many Americanisms really are efficient bits of language. They’re effective tools of communication, most of the time. Also, they are just the normal way in which Americans use the language, and essentially American English has just developed differently to the way British English has. When British people don’t like hearing other Brits using Americanisms, I think it’s pretty small minded, especially when the criticisms given are things like “It’s grammatically wrong” or “It makes my blood boil”. Is it really grammatically wrong, or are you just arrogantly assuming that British English is the only way. And if Americanisms really do make people that angry, they should just calm down a bit.

British people like to think that because we are British, we have the right to be superior about the use of English. As if to say “well, it’s our language, so we can decide how it should be used”. I think we feel we have a connection to the real source of English heritage – Shakespeare and all that. However, in my experience, most British people don’t really have the linguistic knowledge to back up their complaints about American English, so when they complain about Americanisms, they just sound conservative, small minded or snobbish. So, really, when a British person complains about American usage, do they really have a good linguistic point, or are they just being a bit judgemental about American English?

In this episode I will continue to go through the list of British people’s most hated Americanisms, as published by the BBC. I will explain each comment, and then give my opinion. I’ve also got some comments from a language expert called Grammar Man who works at the University of Carolina.
The main questions I consider when judging these Americanisms are:
-Are they grammatically correct or not?
-Are they effective tools for communication? Do they effectively communicate a message?
-Is the complaint really justified, or is it just snobbishness?

Americanisms
So, where did we stop in the last episode? I believe it was comment number 16, so here it is.

16. “I’m good” for “I’m well”. That’ll do for a start. Mike, Bridgend, Wales

Grammar Man says: There is a difference between good and well, indeed. The former is an adjective; the latter, an adverb. This distinction does elude many Americans, I admit. However, adjectives, not adverbs, follow linking verbs — verbs like to be. Hence, the correct response to How are you? is in fact I’m good. The Brits are wrong again.

17. “Bangs” for a fringe of the hair. Philip Hall, Nottingham

Grammar Man says: I don’t know what else to call them.

18. Take-out rather than takeaway! Simon Ball, Worcester

Grammar Man says: Six of one, a half dozen of the other.

19. I enjoy Americanisms. I suspect even some Americans use them in a tongue-in-cheek manner? “That statement was the height of ridiculosity”. Bob, Edinburgh

Grammar Man says: A great example of wordplay!

20. “A half hour” instead of “half an hour”. EJB, Devon

Grammar Man says: I suspect this person has a half brain.

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

Grammar Man says: I’ve never claimed to understand what happens in business meetings.

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

Grammar Man says: Have you been punished yet for talking out of turn? Go stand in the corner and don’t come back until you have a good point to make.

A US reader writes…

Melanie Johnson – MA student in Applied Linguistics, now in the UK

The idea that there once existed a “pure” form of English is simply untrue. The English spoken in the UK today has been influenced by a number of languages, including Dutch, French and German. Speakers from the time of William the Conqueror would not recognise what we speak in Britain as English. This is because language variation shifts are constantly changing.

Five years ago you might have found it odd if someone asked you to “friend” them, but today many of us know this means to add them on Facebook. The increased use of technology, in combination with the rise of a globalised society, means language changes are happening faster than ever, especially in places with highly diverse populations like London. Young people are usually at the vanguard of this, so it’s no surprise to find London teenagers increasingly speaking what’s been termed “multicultural ethnic English”.

Changes in word use are normal and not unique to any language. But English does enjoy a privileged status as the world’s lingua franca. That began with the British, but has been maintained by the Americans. It’s difficult to predict how English will next evolve, but the one certainty is it will.

23. To put a list into alphabetical order is to “alphabetize it” – horrid! Chris Fackrell, York.

Grammar Man says: No doubt, we Americans are notorious for transforming nouns into verbs. If we hadn’t introduced this practice, imagine how annoyed you’d be always having to say, “I’ll add you as a friend on Facebook,” instead of, “I’ll friend you.”

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

Grammar Man says: For a while I thought the British were actually more sophisticated than us. Then I picked up an issue of The Sun. My bad.

25. “Normalcy” instead of “normality” really irritates me. Tom Gabbutt, Huddersfield

Grammar Man says: These words are in fact different, and people should be corrected when confusing them. Though I don’t think the confusion is particularly American. Are you confused?

26. As an expat living in New Orleans, it is a very long list but “burglarize” is currently the word that I most dislike. Simon, New Orleans

Grammar Man says: Again, you should thank us for making a habit of verbing nouns.

27. “Oftentimes” just makes me shiver with annoyance. Fortunately I’ve not noticed it over here yet. John, London

Actually ‘oftentimes’ is used in Macbeth, by Shakespeare. It’s an example of English that was used over here, the Americans then took it over there, we stopped using it, they continued, and now we just get pissed off about it because we assume it’s wrong. So, Shakespeare used it John. You’d know that if you’d read some. Then again, if you read Shakespeare these days it’s seriously difficult to understand. Thing is, oftentimes is pretty clear.

28. Eaterie. To use a prevalent phrase, oh my gaad! Alastair, Maidstone (now in Athens, Ohio)

Grammar Man says: While you’re at the eatery, would you like some fish and French fries with your whine?

29. I’m a Brit living in New York. The one that always gets me is the American need to use the word bi-weekly when fortnightly would suffice just fine. Ami Grewal, New York

Grammar Man says: The meaning of the former term is more obvious, and it’s three characters shorter.

30. I hate “alternate” for “alternative”. I don’t like this as they are two distinct words, both have distinct meanings and it’s useful to have both. Using alternate for alternative deprives us of a word. Catherine, London

Grammar Man says: You have a point. But I don’t think the confusion is particularly American.

31. “Hike” a price. Does that mean people who do that are hikers? No, hikers are ramblers! M Holloway, Accrington

Grammar Man says: No, hikers are backpackers; ramblers are wanderers.

32. Going forward? If I do I shall collide with my keyboard. Ric Allen, Matlock

Grammar Man says: British schools must be in a worse state than American schools, if a Brit is allowed to pass English without understanding the difference between figurative and literal language.

A break for some commentary about the idea of language change, and how people feel about ‘unwanted elements in language’.
From an article by Sue Fox on http://linguistics-research-digest.blogspot.co.uk/
Kate Burridge, a researcher and Professor of Linguistics, has taken a look at the attitudes and activities of ordinary people as reflected in letters to newspapers, listener comments on radio and email responses to her own comments made about language in various broadcasts. She states that linguistic purists tend to make a very clear distinction between what they see as ‘clean’ and ‘dirty’ in language – in other words, what is desirable or undesirable. There are two aspects to this distinction; the first is that purists tend to want to retain the language in its perceived traditional form and they therefore resist language change and the second is that they want to rid the language of what they consider to be ‘unwanted elements’, including foreign influences. Burridge likens linguistic purism to dealing with taboo practices generally – ‘the human struggle to control unruly nature’.
Some of the examples that Burridge provides are quite alarming. People often get very abusive, making aggressive statements about how people who use certain “wrong usages” should be killed. Some people seem hysterical about language change. One person referred to the ‘rape of the English language’ as ‘escalating out of control’ and ‘indulged in by people of all ages’. As Burridge notes, these are clearly passionate and confident responses, indicating that language matters to a lot of people.
Burridge also notes that many extracts that she has examined express concern over the ‘Americanization’ of English, especially as it pertains to New Zealand and Australian English, where the topic is hotly debated. She refers to newspaper headlines such as ‘Facing an American Invasion’ and to one writer who considers that English is deteriorating into a ‘kind of abbreviated American juvenile dialect’.
Why, then, do people hold such strong views about language use? The view held by Burridge, and indeed most linguists, is that such concerns about language use are not usually based on genuine linguistic worries but are reflections of deeper and more general social concerns. She suggests that the opposition to American English is more to do with linguistic insecurity in the face of a cultural, political and economic superpower and that somehow American English poses a threat to authentic ‘downunder English’ and perhaps to Australian and New Zealand cultural identity. Similarly, links are often made between ‘bad language’ and ‘bad behaviour’ and there is often an (unjustified) idea promoted that if a person has no regard for the nice points of grammar, then that person will probably have no regard for the law. With such deeply embedded attitudes towards language use, it is perhaps no wonder that we find such emotionally charged responses.
What, though, are the views of younger people who have grown up with awareness of linguistic variation and change? Schoolchildren are taught about standard and non-standard uses and in the media there is a wide array of regional accents used by presenters and broadcasters. E-communication is also playing a role in promoting colloquial and nonstandard language to the point where it may be achieving a new kind of respectability within society. We might think that these new attitudes could signal the end of linguistic purism but according to a survey conducted by Burridge among first year university linguistics students, the results revealed that there was still an overwhelming intolerance towards language change, especially when it came to American English influence. Of the 71 students interviewed, 81% expressed concern that the use of American elements was detrimental to Australian English.
It seems then that language attitudes are very deeply entrenched and that new attitudes and practices will take much longer to change, if they ever will. As Burridge concludes, the ‘definition of ‘dirt’ might change over the years, but the desire to clean up remains the same’.

33. I hate the word “deliverable”. Used by management consultants for something that they will “deliver” instead of a report. Joseph Wall, Newark-on-Trent, Nottinghamshire

Grammar Man says: I will not be held accountable for either the actions or the discourse of corporate America.

34. The most annoying Americanism is “a million and a half” when it is clearly one and a half million! A million and a half is 1,000,000.5 where one and a half million is 1,500,000. Gordon Brown, Coventry

Grammar Man says: You may have a point. Now talk to the person who emailed #20.

35. “Reach out to” when the correct word is “ask”. For example: “I will reach out to Kevin and let you know if that timing is convenient”. Reach out? Is Kevin stuck in quicksand? Is he teetering on the edge of a cliff? Can’t we just ask him? Nerina, London

Grammar Man says: That idiom has its uses, but it can be overused, I agree.

36. Surely the most irritating is: “You do the Math.” Math? It’s MATHS.Michael Zealey, London

Grammar Man says: Really? Do we have to capitalize all the letters, too? Or are you trying to compensate for something?

37. I hate the fact I now have to order a “regular Americano”. What ever happened to a medium sized coffee? Marcus Edwards, Hurst Green

Grammar Man says: First, we take over your language. Then, we take over your coffee. (Though I hear the antipodeans are making a move on your coffee, too.)

38. My worst horror is expiration, as in “expiration date”. Whatever happened to expiry? Christina Vakomies, London

Grammar Man says: I had never considered the latter word. I quite like it. And it’s shorter.

39. My favourite one was where Americans claimed their family were “Scotch-Irish”. This of course it totally inaccurate, as even if it were possible, it would be “Scots” not “Scotch”, which as I pointed out is a drink. James, Somerset

Grammar Man says: I never get between a Celt and his drink.

40.I am increasingly hearing the phrase “that’ll learn you” – when the English (and more correct) version was always “that’ll teach you”. What a ridiculous phrase! Tabitha, London

Grammar Man says: No self-respecting American with a high school diploma would ever say that, except in jest. (Actually, that phraseology may reflect the standard convention in the Appalachian dialect, in which case it would indicate a systematic, and therefore regionally appropriate, usage of the verb.)

41. I really hate the phrase: “Where’s it at?” This is not more efficient or informative than “where is it?” It just sounds grotesque and is immensely irritating. Adam, London

Grammar Man says: You are absolutely right. This is one of the two Americanisms listed here actually worthy of your scorn. The preposition at the end is unarguably superfluous.

42. Period instead of full stop. Stuart Oliver, Sunderland

Grammar Man says: They’re just different terms for the same thing.

43. My pet hate is “winningest”, used in the context “Michael Schumacher is the winningest driver of all time”. I can feel the rage rising even using it here. Gayle, Nottingham

Grammar Man says: If I were living in a country that could never use that term self-referentially, I would hate it, too.

44. My brother now uses the term “season” for a TV series. Hideous. D Henderson, Edinburgh

Grammar Man says: A TV series can run for multiple seasons. Do you, or your brother, not realize that?

45. Having an “issue” instead of a “problem”. John, Leicester

Grammar Man says: Apparently, Brits have an issue with nuance.

46. I hear more and more people pronouncing the letter Z as “zee”. Not happy about it! Ross, London

Grammar Man says: I’m not happy about your criticizing my pronunciation without explaining your own.

47. To “medal” instead of to win a medal. Sets my teeth on edge with a vengeance. Helen, Martock, Somerset

Grammar Man says: How many times has your soccer team medaled in the past eleven World Cup Finals?

That’s a bit below the belt isn’t it? Anyway, it’s football, not soccer thanks. The sport you refer to as football hardly involves contact between the ball and foot. It should be called “Head butt” or something. And what about The Baseball World Series? Come on! Only America takes part!

48. “I got it for free” is a pet hate. You got it “free” not “for free”. You don’t get something cheap and say you got it “for cheap” do you? Mark Jones, Plymouth

Grammar Man says: You’re right, you can’t get grammar lessons for cheap. You can either buy a grammar book for $15 – $50, or you can read my blog for free.

49. “Turn that off already”. Oh dear. Darren, Munich

Grammar Man says: You may have a point.

50. “I could care less” instead of “I couldn’t care less” has to be the worst. Opposite meaning of what they’re trying to say. Jonathan, Birmingham

Grammar Man says: You are without a doubt right. This is the second Americanism worthy of your scorn. As you point out, it means the opposite of what it is intended to mean.

We Americans appreciate the language you Brits gave us. We only wish you would appreciate the improvements we’ve made since then.

Here is a FULL TRANSCRIPT of EVERY WORD I SAY IN THIS EPISODE which has been generously sent in by Krissy. Thanks again Krissy I’m sure the listeners all appreciate your very hard work! There are some German translations included too.

121: Americanisms Part 2

 

Luke’s ENGLISH Podcast

You are listening to Luke’s English podcast. For more information visit teacherluke.podamatic.com.

Hi listeners, and welcome back to Luke’s English Podcast.

This episode is the continuation of the last one which was all about Americanisms. In that episode I went through a list of American expressions which British people don’t like. This is a list, published by the BBC of comments made by British people about American expressions that they hate.

Yes, ‘hate’. It’s a pretty strong word to use but basically, British people can be very sensitive about hearing American expressions used in British English. Many of them just don’t like it. It infuriates them, causes their blood pressure to rise and their blood to boil. But is it really worth getting so angry about the way British English is influenced by American English? Are the expressions genuinely wrong grammatically? In most cases, I don’t think so. Most of the expressions are grammatically ok. They’re just examples of standard conventions of American English, and it’s quite natural for American English to influence British English. We watch American TV shows, interact with Americans on the internet and meet more and more American people in our daily lives.

Perhaps some Americanisms sound less sophisticated than their British equivalents, but in fact many Americanisms really are efficient bits of language. They’re effective tools of communication, most of the time. Also, they are just the normal way in which Americans use the language, and essentially American English has just developed differently to the way British English has. When British people don’t like hearing other Brits using Americanisms, I think it’s pretty small- minded, especially when the criticisms given are things like “It’s grammatically wrong” or “It makes my blood boil”. Is it really grammatically wrong, or are you just arrogantly assuming that British English is the only way. And if Americanisms really do make people that angry, they should just calm down a bit.

small-minded:kleinkariert, engstirnig

British people like to think that because we are British, we have the right to be superior about the use of English. As if to say “well, it’s our language, so we can decide how it should be used”. I think we feel we have a connection to the real source of English heritage – Shakespeare and all that. However, in my experience, most British people don’t really have the linguistic knowledge to back up their complaints about American English, so when they complain about Americanisms, they just sound conservative, small-minded or snobbish. So, really, when a British person complains about American usage, do they really have a good linguistic point, or are they just being a bit judgemental about American English?

Linguistics is the scientific study of human language

judgemental:voreingenommen

In this episode I will continue to go through the list of British people’s most hated Americanisms, as published by the BBC. I will explain each comment, and then give my opinion. I’ve also got some comments from a language expert called Grammar Man who works at the University of Carolina.

The main questions I consider when judging these Americanisms are:

-Are they grammatically correct or not?

-Are they effective tools for communication? Do they effectively communicate a message? and

-Is the complaint really justified, or is it just snobbishness?

There is a transcript for pretty much everything  I am saying in this episode, again you can check it out on the website, which I am sure you know by now: Luke.. do I ….what is it again? That’s it: teacherLuke.podamatic.com.

How could you forget? How could I even forget that?

So you can read whatever I am saying. If there are words and phrases that you hear me saying and you think: ‘What does that mean?’ And then I don’t explain it, you can check it out on the transcript.

Okay, so, where did we stop in the last episode? I believe it was comment number 16. So here it is. So -

Number 16:

“I’m good” for “I’m well”.

That’ll do for a start’, says Mike in Bridgend, in Wales.

So he is complaining about the expression ‘I’m good’ instead of ‘I’m well.’

That would be for example: ‘Hi, how are you?’

‘I’m good, thanks’, rather than: ‘How are you?’

‘I am fine, thanks’, or  ‘I am well.’

To be honest, I don’t think we say ‘I am well’ when someone says ‘how are you?’ ‘How are you doing?’

Well, I don’t think people do that even, so already, Mike, you are on shaky ground because I think we say: ‘I’m fine, thanks’ and so what’s the problem, Mike from Wales with  ‘I am good?’ Well, I have heard lots of British people complain about this before. Americans do say that: ‘Hey, how you doing? ‘I’m good,’ you know and so lots of British people say that this is, well – first of all – they think it’s grammatically incorrect which is not true because it is grammatically correct because if you think about it, ‘good’ is an adjective, fine, like fine is an adjective and adjectives are used in this structure. We have for example the subject, for example ‘I’ plus the verb ‘be’, which in this case is ‘am’ and then you can have an adjective. It’s just a well-known structure. ‘It is interesting’, for example. ‘I am good’, so grammatically it is fine.

Good is an adjective. You can put an adjective there in the sentence.

I think another thing when British people complain about  sometimes is that the meaning is a bit ambiguous, as if to say ‘I’m good’ could mean ‘I am a good person’. But to be honest I don’t think that’s usually a problem because in that context you have to try to misunderstand, wouldn’t you? If you say to someone: ‘Hey, how are you?’ I may say: ‘Well, I am good’, and you think: ‘Does he mean he is a good person?’ I don’t think that would happen. I think it’s normal for you to assume that ‘I am good’ means ‘I am good, I am not ill, I am sort of healthy.’ Right? ‘I am in a good mood, I am not unhappy.’ So, ‘I am good.’

So I can’t imagine, really how anyone could misunderstand: ‘I am good’ to mean ‘I am a good person.’ Unless, you know, you are in sort of a Lord of the Rings movie, where it’s very important to establish that you are a good person when you meet someone, before you can kind of get  to know him because, you know,  in the Lord of the Rings or in Star Wars most people are just good or bad, aren’t they? So if you meet someone, so: ‘Hello stranger, how are you?’

‘Don’t worry, I am  good, I am a good  guy, don’t chop my head off with an axe’. But in the real world, of course, you don’t do that, you don’t establish whether you are a good person or not at the beginning of a conversation.  So I think you have to try to misunderstand: ‘I am good’ to mean ‘I am a good person’.

What does Grammar Man say?

He says: ‘There is a difference between good and well, indeed. The former is an adjective; the latter, an adverb. This distinction does elude many Americans, I admit. So you are saying that sometimes the difference between the adverbs and the adjectives is not obvious to some Americans.

latter: letztgenannt

the latter:letzteres

latter part:Hinterteil (Gesäß)

 

to elude sb.:jdm versagt bleiben

to elude capture:sich der Gefangennahme entziehen

 

For example: ‘How is the project going?’

‘It’s going good’.  Now, I can understand that. You should say: ‘It’s going well’, because we need an adverb there. You shouldn’t say: ‘It’s going good. So, that is a mistake that Americans make sometimes but ‘How are you?’

‘I am good, thanks.’ I think that’s all right.

He goes on to say: ‘However, adjectives, not adverbs, follow linking verbs - verbs like to be. Hence, the correct response to ‘How are you?’  is in fact ‘I’m good.’ The Brits are wrong again.’

Linking verbs do not express action. Instead, they connect the subject to additional information about the subject.

Well, I think we are all wrong because I think I have got it, but I think; Mike from Wales, you don’t really have a point. I think ‘I am good’ is okay and   it’s just more a question of usage. The Americans tend to say that whereas the British would say: ‘I am fine.’ So I suppose when Mike hears that he goes: ‘I can’t bear to hear American English being used the United Kingdom.’

United Kingdom is called the ‘United Kingdom’ because apparently we were united by a King. In fact, actually it’s a Queen whose family originally come from Germany so you know what does that say? I don’t know. So, right

Number17:

We got lots of points to go through so I shouldn’t mess around. Let’s just get through these fairly quickly, shall we? Okay then. Number seventeen: .

“Bangs” for a fringe of the hair.” Bangs for a fringe of the hair. That’s Philip Hall in Nottingham.

Well, we don’t really say ‘bangs’ in the UK, but I think in the USA, you know like a girl has got a fringe. That is just above her eyes or maybe just the fringe of the hair is just on the eyebrows. You know that kind of look, somehow like ‘ Ris with a spoon’ tends to have this haircut which is like a fringe going over the eyebrows,okay? And in America they call that ‘bangs’, bangs of hair, right? And in Britain we don’t say that. In fact, we don’t really have a name for the individual bits of hair in a fringe. In America they do. They call it bangs. So in fact really, we are missing a word there, aren’t we? As we don’t know what else to call it.

 

Ris with a spoon:Reese Witherspoon

Grammar Man says:

I don’t know what else to call them.

So I think this is just a  case of American English having  a word that we don’t have in British English. So Philip Hall in Nottingham: ‘You’ve learned a word, right? You should be happy. Right, moving on to

Number 18:

And this is from Simon Ball in Worcester.

I think we’ve heard from Simon Ball before. Well, anyway! Simon Ball from Worcester complains:

Take-out rather than take-away!

So take-out rather than take-away. So he thinks we should say takeaway and he gets annoyed when he hears people say take-out.

So, if you go to a restaurant, let’s see, if you go to a ‘starbox’ and you order a coffee, you can either drink the coffee in or you can go out with the coffee. A take-away! Right? You get a take-away coffee in the UK. And in America it will be a take-out, maybe a take-out meal or take-out coffee or something like that.

But Simon, come on, what’s the problem? Take-away, fine. It’s clear. You take it, you take it away from the place where you bought it. You don’t eat it there. ‘Take-out’, but that’s clear, too, isn’t it, Simon? ‘Take-out’, I mean you take it out of the restaurants. I am not gonna eat it in, I’m gonna take it out. I think that’s fine. You can’t say the take-away exclusively is the only way to explain that and that take-out is wrong. I think take-out is fine. It’s just another word to say the same thing.

Grammar Man says:

Well, it’s Six of one, and half a dozen of the other.

Okay, well. Half a dozen means six, okay. A dozen means twelve and that’s like sort of a traditionell word which would have been used by – like people who sold things in shops. You buy a dozen eggs for example and I mean it’s twelve eggs. So six of one and half a dozen of the other just means six of one and six of the other is basically saying – it’s just the same. It’s just the same way to say two things. Six of one, half of a dozen of the other means that there is no real argument. It’s just a, you know, American say take-out, Brits say take-away and they are not really that different.

Number 19:

 This is from Bob in Edinburgh and he says rather positively: I enjoy Americanisms. I suspect even some Americans use them in a tongue-in-cheek manner?

Right, what’s the tongue-in-cheek manner? What does that mean to use something in a toungue-in-cheek manner

Well, tongue-in-cheek just means when you do it sarcastically or ironically, okay? So if you do something tongue-in-cheek you do it ironically. So, let’s see. .  ..tongue-in-cheek, okay for example, if I was to win an award, I might do a kind of tongue-in-cheek speech, which is were I’d say: ‘I like to thank everyone for.. voting for me in the awards, I like to thank Father Christmas for all the help that he has given me over the years delivering gifts, I don’t know how you do it, Santa, I  really don’t. Well done so and you know thanks for keeping the dreams of millions of children alive so that they could then grow up happy, happy enough to vote for Luke’s English podcast in the future. So thanks a lot Santa.’

That’s gonna be a tongue-in-cheek acceptance speech.  Because I am not really being serious. You do something without being too  serious. You do it a bit  ironically. You do it in a tongue-in-cheek manner. Right? So he is saying: I enjoy Americanisms. I suspect, even some Americans use them in a tongue-in-cheek manner. So he things that some American people use Americanisms as a kind of joke, like a word joke, maybe. For example: ‘That statement was the height of ridiculosity.’

Ridiculosity, in fact it’s ridiculousness. But you do have some nouns that end in …osity, like velocity, virtuosity. So what he is doing, he is taking the word ‘ridiculous’ and he is putting a different suffix on it. So it’s not ridiculousness, but it’s ridiculosity. And that’s quite funny because if you think about it the word ‘ridiculosity’ is somehow more ridiculous than the word ridiculousness.

velocity:Geschwindigkeit, Schnelligkeit

air velocity:Luftgeschwindigkeit, Luftstrom

 

So this is an example of the  creative  misuse of language.

Grammar Man says:

This is a great example of wordplay! So yeah , maybe some Americanisms are just Americans having a bit of fun with the language.

Number 20

This is a half hour instead of half an hour.

And this is from EJB in Devan in the UK.

So he thinks ‘half an hour’ should be correct and a half hour is incorrect.

But now, come on. A half hour is pretty clear and there are other examples of this, like you’d have a half pint. A half pint, that’s half a glass of beer. Right, a half pint, so why can’t we have a half hour?

I think it’s all right.

Grammar Man says: I suspect this person has a half brain.

Hahaha mmm O Grammar Man here you go again. Right!

Number 21

This is A “heads up”.

This is from R. Haworth in Marlborough.

A heads up, for example in a business meeting. Let’s do a ‘heads up’ on this issue. I have never been sure of the meaning.

 A heads-up.

Well, I suppose this means if everyone in your team is working on a project. They are kind of -  they got their heads down. Their heads are down when they are working and they are focusing on just their own thing. They are not looking at each other. They are not communicating because they got their heads down. So if you do a heads up on something I guess it means that everyone looks up.

I’ve just received a text message.

If you do a heads-up it means everyone looks up and they kind of look at each other and they communicate what’s going on. So to do a heads up is like to have a meeting. Have a quick meeting just to check whatever one is up to and what the progress of the project is. Let’s do a heads-up. It could be maybe to bring attention to something. You know if you bring attention to something then people will put their heads up so that is a heads-up. I suppose you could say it’s not very sophisticated to say, let’s see ‘heads-up’ to make that into a noun. Just those two words into a noun, you know, it’s a bit unconventional but that’s what it means. It is an example of a kind of a cliché that might be used in management speak or business, sort of this kind of business English. You find a lot of idiomatic language in business English because somehow they like to be deflectable with the language just to be efficient sometimes. But it can result in slightly  annoying or cliché  bits of  language.

deflectable:ablenkbar

Grammar Man says:

I’ve never claimed to understand what happens in business meetings.

So he is saying, well, I suppose this is something specific to the business world and he is not really sure what it means either. Okay.

I’ll check the text message that I got. Let me see. I didn’t put my phone on silent while I was recording this. Ah, that  is from my mom. That’s nice.  It’s always about Christmas presents. Christmas is coming up and everyone is asking each other what they want for Christmas. So I have to tell my mom what I want for Christmas. Oooh, what would I like? What would be good as a Christmas present?  I mean obviously I have got to be sensible. I can’t just ask for like a helicopter. That would  be good. Maybe I should scale it down a bit and just go for a jet-pack.

to scale sth. down:etwas herungerschrauben

to scale down the expectations:die Erwartungen herunterschrauben

 

Ein Raketenrucksack (auch Jet-Pack oder Jetpack) ist eine auf dem Rückstoßprinzip (meist heißer Verbrennungsgase basierende, tragbare Antriebseinheit, mit der sich eine einzelne Person frei in der Luft (oder im Weltall) bewegen kann. Der Begriff Jet-Pack ist eine Ableitung des englischen Wortes für Rucksack (Backpack) in Anspielung auf die Tragweise des Gerätes.

 

 

It might be a good idea. No, I think I am gonna just ask for a jacket, actually from my mom. So mom if you are listening to this you can get me a jacket, maybe a leather – like a brown leather jacket. I might send you a link. My mom listens to this sometimes. In fact, she is not being very well. She’s had flu and she’s been in bed with flu. So mom if you are listening to this I hope you’re feeling better. I hope that you are back at your feet again and we are very much looking forward to coming home for Christmas, mom, looking forward to that, right. Actually mama wonder what do you think, what are you thinking of this episode? because I know sometimes you don’t like Americanisms. Maybe I have to talk to you about that at Christmas. I might even record it so that the listeners to Luke’s English podcast can listen it and just learn, just learn loads of English while they are doing it.

Yes, right, moving on.

Number 22

Train station: My teeth are on edge every time I hear it. Who started it? Have they been punished?

That’s from Chris Capewell in Queens Park in London.

So he doesn’t like the expression train station. I suppose he thinks that railway station is better. In fact he hates train station so much that his teeth are on edge every time he hears it. If your teeth are on edge it means you are – ooch

finally it is really difficult, it’s really horrible to hear. So it makes you squirm and it makes you shudder and cringe. Aaah, your teeth are on edge. ahh I can’t stand it. Who started saying train station? Well, it’s unknown. Is it specifically American? Maybe, but come on, what’s wrong with train station. I mean really it’s a station. Trains that’s where you go to get a train. Trains stop in them, let’s call it a train station. I don’t see the problem. Railway station is well, fine. I mean railway is the track that the trains travel on but, you know, it’s pretty much the same thing, isn’t it? There is nothing wrong with saying train station. Just in the same way that there is nothing wrong with saying railway station. It’s just another way of saying the same thing. So there is no need to punish people for saying train station, Chris, come on, man.

Grammar Man says:

Have you been punished yet for talking out of turn? Go and stand in the corner and don’t come back until you have a good point to make.

Am I talking out of turn?:Ist meine Bemerkung fehl am Platz?

Okay, let’s take a little break from the list now and let’s hear from an American reader. So this is a comment from Melanie Johnson and she is a master student in applying linguistics  here in the UK. She is actually from America but she is living in the UK and she is studying a master’s degree in applied linguistics. So I am sure that she is gonna have quite a balanced view on this subject. Being American, living in the UK and generally being very educated about linguistics. Let’s hear what she says: So she says:

The idea that there once existed a “pure” form of English is simply untrue. The English spoken in the UK today has been influenced by a number of languages, including Dutch, French and German. Speakers from the time of William the Conqueror would not recognise what we speak in Britain as English. This is because language variation shifts are constantly changing.

Five years ago you might have found it odd if someone asked you to “friend” them, but today many of us know this means to add them on Facebook. The increased use of technology, in combination with the rise of a globalised society, means language changes are happening faster than ever, especially in places with highly diverse populations like London. Young people are usually at the vanguard of this, so it’s no surprise to find London teenagers increasingly speaking what’s been termed “multicultural ethnic English”.

Changes in word use are normal and not unique to any language. But English does enjoy a privileged status as the world’s lingua franca. That began with the British, but has been maintained by the Americans. It’s difficult to predict how English will  evolve, but the one certainty is it will.

So she is saying something I think we pretty early made that point that you know the influence of Americanisms on British English is all parts of a natural way in which language changes over time and you can either understand that and go with it or you get very angry and annoyed and complain and throw your toys out of the pram. Right let’s move on.

Number 23

We are almost halfway through the list and we are twenty-three minutes into the podcast. So, let’s go. So, this is from Chris Fackrell in York in the UK and he says: To put a list into alphabetical order is to ‘alphabetize it’ – horrid! So he thinks the verb ‘to alphabetize something is horrible. That means put it in alphabetical order, for example: I alphabetize my record collection.

Well, I don’t know. Is it really intrinsically horrible to say alphabetize? I mean it’s rather a long slightly clumsy-sounding word: ‘alphabetize’  and you might say it’s a bit basic to just take the word alphabet and turn it  into a verb. But it’s pretty effective, isn’t it? You know what I mean, to alphabetize something means to put it into alphabetical order it’s certainly easier to say.

intrinsically:an sich

intrinsically:wirklich, wesentlich

.

Grammar Man says:

There is no doubt, we Americans are notorious for transforming nouns into verbs. If we hadn’t introduced this practice, imagine how annoyed you’d  be always having to say, “I’ll add you as a friend on Facebook,” instead of, “I’ll friend you.”

Okay, I think we get the point. to To say I’ll friend you is just a much quicker, much easier way of saying ‘I will add you as a friend on facebook’. I suppose the same applies to alphabetize. Right!

Number 24

People that say “my bad” after a mistake. I don’t know how anything could be as annoying or as lazy as that.

That’s from Simon Williamson in Lymington, Hampshire in the UK. My bad. Okay, so for example if you -  let’s say, you take the wrong bus with your friend and you are riding along and your friend says: ‘Oh no, we are on the wrong bus. We are going  the wrong direction.’ And you go, ‘oh yes, sorry, my bad’.  That means it was my fault. I did a bad thing, I chose the wrong bus in this case. My bad,,eeh ye, my bad. Yeah, I suppose it’s not very grammatical. You can’t say my and then an adjective. You have to say: My followed by a noun, don’t you?   I mean you might say: ‘My bad mistake’. But essentially it’s my bad , sorry, it’s my mistake. My and a noun. So saying my and an adjective. Yeah, it’s a bit… it’s not  really  grammatically correct. But still it’s clear what it means. I means: I did soemthing bad. So

Grammar Man says:

For a while I thought the British were actually more sophisticated than us. Then I picked up an issue of The Sun. My bad.

So not really answering the particular point, but he is saying that he thinks ‘my bad’  is okay. Taht  you can say it. In fact, he makes fun of the British saying that he thought we were sophisticated and then he picked up an issue of ‘the Sun’.

Well, ‘the Sun’ is a newspaper in the UK and I agree with  Grammar Man, it’s not sophisticated at all. It’s a deeply unsophisticated -  very sort of sort of small-minded and it’s the sort of newspaper that sells papers by doing stories about celebrities and showing pictures of girls with their boobs out.

boobs:Titten

baggy boobs:Hängetitten

So guys, if you are in England and pick up a copy of the Sun, there is just a naked girl on page three. In fact it’s one of the most popular newspapers in the country, one of the most best-selling newspapers and they’ve had a naked girl on page three for years and years and years. It’s almost like an institution. But is that really a serious way to, you know, sort  of  – conduct journalism?

to conduct:betreiben

to counduct business:Geschäfte leiten

to counduct negotiations:Verhandungen führen

No it’s not. So it’s not a sophisticated paper. They have ridiculous stories, a lot of them  not really true.  They get their information in a  very dodgy way and only recently there has been a bit scandal about how the tabloid papers in this country were kind of hacking into people’s mobile phones and things like that.

dodgy:zwielichtig, unzuverlässig

dodgy dealings:krumme Geschäfte

dodgy weather:unstetes Wette

that’s a dodgy situation:das ist eine riskante Situation

 

I agree, the Sun is a pretty awful paper. Nevertheless if you read it, it’s full of idioms and it’s full of phrasal verbs. There is loads of language that you can learn from the Sun. But as a piece of journalism – no, it’s not very sophisticated. Right.

Point 25

This is from Tom Gabbutt in Huddersfield in England. And he says: Normalcy instead of normality really irritates me. Normalcy instead of normality, so I might say; in New York after the hurricane it took a long time for things to get back to normalcy or for things to get back to normality. Well,

Grammar Man says:

These words are in fact different, and people should be corrected when confusing them. Though I don’t think the confusion is particularly American. Are you confused?

So he is saying that actually these two words are separate words and it’s true a lot of people confuse them but he doesn’t think that’s just the Americans.

Normalcy and normality okay, we have to google this one: Normalcy okay there is normalcy vs. normality.

Okay this is a website called  Grammarist.com  and normalcy vs normality there is no

normality and normalcy are different spellings of the same word. Okay, so that kind of contradicts what Grammar Man said: Normality is cenuries older though and many

usage authorities consider it the superior form. Nouns ending in -cy are usually derived from adjectives ending in -t-for example, pregnancy from pregnant, complacency from complacent, hesitancy from hesitant-while adjectives ending in -l usually take the -ity suffix . Normalcy is unique in flouting this convention.

to flout:missachten

to flout sth.:sich über etwas hinwegsetzen

 

convention:Vereinbarung, Brauch

So maybe there is a case here for saying that normalcy is  kind of wrong and normality is okay.

Well, we will see. Maybe in the future everyone is going to start saying normalcy, but I doubt it. I think we’ll continue to say normality.

Normalcy – normality. Normality is longer. It’s got  four syllables,  so maybe normalcy is a slightly more efficient word.

Number 26

As an expat living in New Orleans, it is a very long list but “burglarize” is currently the word that I most dislike.

expat:im Ausland Lebender

 

That’s from Simon in New Orleans. But I suspect he is a Brit. Okay, burglarize. Well, you know the word burglary? Or to burgle something. Well, a burglary is when someone breaks into a building in order to steal something. So it’s a kind of theft. So breaking into a building to steal something is called burglary and the person who does is called  burglar and in British English the verb is to burgle something, like you burgle a property Well, hopefully you don’t burgle a property but people do burgle properties sometimes and so Simon’s complain is that burglarize is an unnecessary verb. That we already have burgle. But I suspect  in America they don’t really use burgle.

Grammar Man says:

Again, you should thank us for making a habit of verbing  nouns.

Alright, okay, well done, yes. Well done for verbing nouns but we already have burgle, we don’t need burglarize. Burglarize, it sounds funny to us because we already have the verb burgle. So if we add -ize on it is like – What? unnecessarily long – burglarize,  burglarizationisms.

That’s a common complain that Brits have about Americans in their English  is that they unnecessarily lengthen  words.

There have been a number of instances of burglarizationism i ties  over the past few months isationisms okay, but burglarize?

yeah I am not that bothers I think it’s just that we use burgle and the Americans don’t.

 

Number 27

This is from John in London. And John says:  .

Oftentimes” just makes me shiver with annoyance. Fortunately I’ve not noticed it over here yet. So it makes him shiver with annoyance.  och och it’s so annoying. Calm down John, it’s not that bad. Oftentimes. Well, actually ‘oftentimes’ is used in Macbeth, by Shakespeare. Banquo. One of the characters in the play, Macbeth says  oftentimes. So it’s an example of English that was used over here, the Americans then took it over there. We stopped using it, they continued, and now we just get pissed off about it because we assume it’s wrong. So, Shakespeare used it, John. You’d know that if you’d read some. Then again, if you read Shakespeare these days it’s seriously difficult to understand. At least, so oftentimes is pretty clear, isn’t it? Oftentimes -  really it’s not necessary though. We just say often .So I agree that  it’s not a great word, but actually , if you say,  if you say: Fortunately I haven’t noticed it over here yet, well, you haven’t noticed it because you haven’t read any Shakespeare. In fact it was over there five hundred years ago when Shakespeare was knocking around. So, okay.

Number 28

Eaterie. An eaterie. This is from Alastair in Maidstone.

And he says eaterie to use as a prevalent phrase – oh my gaad! So an eaterie is a noun which is a place where you eat. Okay?

prevalent:verbreitet

prevalent feeling/opinion:vorherrschende Meinung

Grammar Man says: While you’re at the eatery, would you like some fish and some French fries with your whine?

Okay that’s another kind of word joke here from Grammar Man.

With your whine. Wine, as we know is a drink, red wine or white wine. But also whine is another word, spelled w h i n e and to whine is to complain about things in an annoying way. Like:

‘Oh God, why you are making such a huge difference in  English?  oou! That’s to whine about something. So he is saying: Would you like some fish and French fries with your whine? So he is just suggesting that Alastair is just whining about this particular word and also there is a kind of a dig here from Grammar Man about ‘fish and chips.’

In America they don’t call them chips they call them fries or French fries so he is saying fish and French fries and actually it’s fish and chips.

Alright!

Number 29

This is from Ami  in New York and the comment goes  ‘I’m a Brit living in New York. The one that always gets me is the American need to use the word bi-weekly when fortnightly would suffice just fine.’

it get sb.:jdn.nerven

So the woman always gets me is the American need to use the word bi-weekly  when fortnightly would suffice just fine.’

Okay, so fortnight is two weeks, okay, I’ll see you in a fortnight. It means I’ll see you in two weeks. Fortnightly is the adverb and the Americans might say bi-weekly. But, okay. I don’t think there is really anything that wrong with bi-weekly. Bi you know it’s a prefix which means two, like bicyle, bisexual for example. Bi means two. Bi-weekly. I mean, I think it’s really clear. A bi-weekly meeting means a meeting that’s gonna happen every two weeks.

And . Grammar Man says:

The meaning of the former term is more obvious, and it’s three characters shorter.

So he is saying that bi-weekly is actually more obvious than fortnightly and I kind of agree and it’s three characters shorter, so it’s actually a shorter word. So he is suggesting that bi-weekly is better. Judging whether – deciding whether  a word or one word is better than another is really very subjective and so if the Brits say fortnightly, they prefer it just out of habit just  because that’s the language that they speak and it’s all  part of their cultural identity. And so it’s very such a subjective choice. We just know fortnightly because you’ve heard it since you were a child and so when you hear bi-weekly, it just feels wrong, feels unnatural. But really if you take a look at the language properly, it’s not really wrong, it means something, it is not grammatically incorrect, it’s just different. Okay.

Number 30

I hate “alternate” for “alternative”. I don’t like this as they are two distinct words, both have distinct meanings and it’s useful to have both. Using alternate for alternative deprives us of a word. That’s Catherine in London.

And Grammar Man says:

You have a point. But I don’t think the confusion is particularly American.

So he is saying we all get confused with alternate and alternative and that’s not just an American thing.

Number 31 

Hike” a price. Does that mean people who do that are hikers? No, hikers are ramblers! That’s M Holloway from  Accrington in England.

So to hike a price basically means to raise a price. Okay, but we also have a word ‘hike’ which means go for a walk in the country side.

to raise a price:einen Preis erhöhen

to hike up fares:die Fahrpreise erhöhen

And a hiker is a person who goes for a walk in the country side. A rambler is the same thing and

Grammar Man says:

No, hikers are backpackers; ramblers are wanderers. Okay, so he is saying that basically in America a backpacker – they call hikers backpackers and they call ramblers wanderers. So backpackers and wanderers-  just two sets of words – they mean the same thing. Right? So in England we say hikers and ramblers, in America they say backpackers and wanderers. So there you go. Deal with it!

Number 32 

Going forward? If I do so I shall collide with my keyboard.

That’s Ric Allen in Matlock. So going forward is an expression. Again you might hear in  business meeting and it basically means going into the future – moving forward into the future. So going forward. But it’s a cliché. So people just drop that into a sentence all the time when they are talking about things to do in the future. For example going forward, I think we need to look carefully at our marketing campaigns. Right?

Going forward we need to broaden our product range for example, okay? So going forward. So, I think Ric Allen is saying that going forward is confusing because if you go forward you’ll collide with your keyboard. Literally go forward. But come on, Ric, going forward is clearly an idiomatic use of the language and you can’t be unaware  that English is full of idiomatic expressions as like most languages are. So going forward doesn’t mean literally going forward, come on, it just means metaphorically going forward.

metaphorically speaking:bildlich gesprochen

Grammar Man says:

British schools must be in a worse state than American schools, if a Brit is allowed to pass English without understanding the difference between figurative and literal language.

So figurative language is like methaphoric language and he is saying basically he is surprised that Ric doesn’t know the difference between figurative and literal language.

Right let’s take another break from the list here and look at some commentary about the idea of language change and how people feel about unwanted elements in language. This is from an article by Sue Fox from the linguistic research Digest and you can see the link on the page. And it goes like this:

Kate Burridge, a researcher and Professor of Linguistics, has taken a look at the attitudes and activities of ordinary people as reflected in letters to newspapers, listener comments on radio and email responses to her own comments made about language in various broadcasts. She states that linguistic purists tend to make a very clear distinction between what they see as ‘clean’ and ‘dirty’ in language – in other words, what is desirable or undesirable. There are two aspects to this distinction; the first is that purists tend to want to retain the language in its perceived traditional form and they therefore resist language change and the second is that they want to rid the language of what they consider to be ‘unwanted elements’, including foreign influences. Burridge likens linguistic purism to dealing with taboo practices generally – ‘the human struggle to control unruly nature’.

Some of the examples that Burridge provides are quite alarming. People often get very abusive, this is when they feel upset about unwanted elements in language or language change. People often get very abusive  making aggressive statements about how people who use certain “wrong usages” should be killed. Some people seem hysterical about language change. One person referred to the ‘rape of the English language’ as ‘escalating out of control’ and ‘indulged in by people of all ages’. As Burridge notes, these are clearly passionate and confident responses, indicating that language matters to a lot of people.

Burridge also notes that many extracts that she has examined express concern over the ‘Americanization’ of English, especially as it pertains to New Zealand and Australian English, where the topic is hotly debated. She refers to newspaper headlines such as ‘Facing an American Invasion’ and to one writer who considers that English is deteriorating into a ‘kind of abbreviated American juvenile dialect’.

Why, then, do people hold such strong views about language use? The view held by Burridge, and indeed most linguists, is that such concerns about language use are not usually based on genuine linguistic worries but are reflections of deeper and more general social concerns. She suggests that the opposition to American English is more to do with linguistic insecurity in the face of a cultural, political and economic superpower and that somehow American English poses a threat to authentic ‘downunder English’ and perhaps to Australian and New Zealand cultural identity. Similarly, links are often made between ‘bad language’ and ‘bad behaviour’ and there is often an (unjustified) idea promoted that if a person has no regard for the nice points of grammar, then that person will probably have no regard for the law. With such deeply embedded attitudes towards language use, it is perhaps no wonder that we find such emotionally charged responses.

What, though, are the views of younger people who have grown up with awareness of linguistic variation and change? Schoolchildren are taught about standard and non-standard uses and in the media there is a wide array of regional accents used by presenters and broadcasters. E-communication is also playing a role in promoting colloquial and nonstandard language to the point where it may be achieving a new kind of respectability within society. We might think that these new attitudes could signal the end of linguistic purism but according to a survey conducted by Burridge among first year university linguistics students, the results revealed that there was still an overwhelming intolerance towards language change, especially when it came to American English influence. Of the 71 students interviewed, 81% expressed concern that the use of American elements was detrimental to Australian English.

It seems then that language attitudes are very deeply entrenched and that new attitudes and practices will take much longer to change, if they ever will. As Burridge concludes, the ‘definition of ‘dirt’ might change over the years, but the desire to clean it remains the same’.

Okay, so, I guess making a few points -  one is that people are very very passionate about their feelings regarding language change particularly when it’s from a foreign source like America and so they get upset about it because it somehow goes right to the core of their cultural identity and also it seems that even young people who are sort of educated about linguistics, they still don’t like the American influence and so fact is, these things are very deep and personal.

Okay, moving on

Number 33

Let’s get through this list in this episode. Let’s keep it  in one episode, if possible. Okay! Number 33:

This is from Joseph Wall in Newark-on-Trent in Nottinghamshire. And Joseph says: I  hate the word “deliverable”. Used by management consultants for something that they will “deliver” instead of a report. So, you know, we will be able to sense a few deliverables. What kind of deliverables can you give me on this? I suppose meaning sort of  what kind of reports can you deliver?

Well, Grammar Man says:

I will not be held accountable for either the actions or the discourse of corporate America.

So again he is gonna distances himself away from the business world and  saying, he is suggesting,  I suppose  that in business people do strange things and they speak in strange ways. So, in this case they turned the word deliver into a noun and said deliverable. But there we go again. The Americans turning nouns into verbs. They are quite fond of that.

Number 34:

This is from Gordon Brown in Coventry. I don’t think that’s the former Prime Minister of Britain. Gordon Brown. I think it’s probably just a coincidence. Maybe this Grodon Brown -  maybe I should do it in a Gordon Brown voice. Let’s try that.

I have never ever tried to do a Gordon Brown voice in my life before but I am gonna do it now. You probably don’t know who Gordon Brown is. Well a fact is he was the Prime Minister of Britain for quite a few years between 2000 – when did he become Prime Minister? 2007 I think – until about 2010. So just about three years. He wasn’t very popular. But anyway this is what his voice sounds like. This is what I think his voice sounds.

The most annoying  – no, I can’t do it. No, in fact I’ve just realised that I can’t do it. But what I will do is, I will do it in the voice of John Connery because  it’s the closest thing I can do to Gordon Brown. Okay, so

The most annoying Americanism is “a million and a half” when it is clearly one and a half million! A million and a half is 1 million point five where one and a half million is one million five hundred thousand. That’s Gordon Brown in Coventry.

That was the crappiest John McConnery voice I’ve ever done. Honestly, I do it normally much better than that.

Anyway, the most annoying Americanism is ‘a million and a half’ when it’s clearly one and a half million. A million and a half is one million point five where one and a half million is one million five hundred thousand.

Hmm, okay.

Well Grammar Man says:

You may have a point. Maybe you have a point. A million and a half could mean a million and half of one -  you know like a million point five.

Okay, fine! a million and a half. But I think we all know what a million and a half is. If you say that. I think so. But maybe there is a point. Maybe you should say one and a half million. Okay.

Number 35

This is Nerina in London. and she says: “Reach out to” when the correct word is “ask”. For example: “I will reach out to Kevin and let you know if that timing is convenient”. Reach out? Is Kevin stuck in quicksand? Is he teetering on the edge of a cliff? Can’t we just ask him? says Nerina in London

So to reach out to someone instead of ask someone. Well, Nerina, these kind of – these kinds of phrasal verbs they are not just exclusive to American English, are they? I mean we have plenty of these phrasal verbs in English. It’s not just something the Americans are doing. For example let’s see: To go past in fact. To go past is a good one. Alright to copy me in on a message. You copy me in on that message. Copy me in on the message. Can’t you just say: Can you copy me in a message. Copy me on the message? Why do we have to say in on the message. I mean there is no real logic in many cases to phrasal verbs in the way they are used prepositions. They just become separate items of lectures. So reach out to is okay but I understand that the meaning of it. Why do we say reach out as if someone is like somehow difficult to reach -  we reach out to them, like stretching your arm out to get in touch with someone. Okay, well

Grammar Man says:

That idiom has its uses, but it can be overused, I agree.

So to reach out to someone can be useful. Maybe if someone is a – like some difficult to contact or they are not likely to get back in touch with you, you reach out. You know it’s difficult. You can say maybe you reach out your arm and hope that they’ll come and grab it in the same way that you try to contact with someone and just hope that they reciprocate and make contact with you. So you reach out to someone maybe -  someone is very angry with you and you want him to forgive you -  you don’t know if they will but you just kind of reach out to them and eh you know really politely plead that they forgive you, might be the case when it’s used. But maybe reach out to is overused and  you should just say ask in many cases.

Number 36

Surely the most irritating is: “You do the Math.” Math? It’s MATHS in capital letters.

Okay, you do the math. So you do the math is like you work it out, okay. So let’s see. I’ll think of an example. You do the Math ..okay, so let’s say you are speculating on something so you’d say something like Kate Middleton  is in hospital and William is being talking about buying baby clothes. You do the maths.

That means  you work it out, meaning, I think that Kate’s pregnant. You do the maths -  meaning if you look at the evidence, Kate Middleton is in hospital and William is like buying baby cloths. You do the math and work it out. You work out. ‘Wow, Kate’s pregnant.’ The issue is that in America they say Math for mathematics and we say maths – with an s on it for mathematics.

Okay, mathematics. Math or maths, it’s pretty small thing. I mean maybe maths is correct because it’s plural. But it’s an abbreviation. So you don’t always pluralize abbreviations.

So math, I think it’s all right. It’s just again just two different ways to say something. Two different ways to abbreviate mathematics.

Grammar Man says:

Really, do we have to capitalize all the letters too or are you trying to compensate for something.

So that’s because Michael in his message capitalized the word math so M A T H S in capitel letters. So he is saying is that necessary or are you trying to compensate for something?

Okay, if you make something a lot bigger. you may be trying to compensate so

maybe if something that you have is small, you need to make something else big in order to compensate for the fact that you seem to have a lot of smallness going on in your life. That’s difficult to explain.

Well, let me give you another example. Let’s say a man has a small penis, okay, let’s say a man has a small penis and so in order to compensate for that  – what he does is, he goes out and he buys a really big car, because he feels inadequate – feels  soemhow not good enough, not big enough and so he buys a big car in order to compensate for it. So basically Grammar Man is suggesting that Michael by putting MATHS in big letters is trying to compensate the fact that he has a small penis. So basically, Grammar Man is saying

Michael Zealey in London: You’ve got a small penis, okay!

Number 37

I hate the fact I now have to order a “regular Americano“. What ever happened to a medium sized coffee? says Marcus Edwards in Hurst Green in London.

Is it in London? Marcus Edwards in Hurst Green, England. Now a regular  Americano. Yeah, okay -  it sounds like rather complicated   language,  just immediate coffee or small coffee, but the fact is you know, coffee is a bit complex. There are many different ways to serve it and prepare it and an Americano is basically an expresso with water in it, isn’t it? It’s like a long coffee or maybe a filter coffee, I think. Could be that. So

Grammar Man says:

First, we take over your language. Then, we take over your coffee. (Although I hear the antipodeans are making a move on your coffee, too.)

antipodeans:aus Australien oder Neuseeland

So, he’s just making fun of Marcus saying: First we take your language then we take over your coffee. But that’s quite an interesting point that maybe Marcus’ complain is not necessarily about the language but about the fact that the culture is changing too and that we now order Americano coffee rather than just a black coffee. So maybe there is something in that. But it’s not just a question of language change,  but  general cultural change as well. How do people feel about it? Well they get a bit upset about it. Don’t make it.  It’s all part of their way of life.

Number 38

My worst horror is expiration, as in “expiration date”. Whatever happened to expiry? said Christina in London.

Well, okay – expiration date or expiry date. You know if you buy something, let’s say you buy a yoghurt from the supermarket and on the top of the yoghurt there is a date. And that’s when you should eat the jogurt by. You should eat it before that date. So in the UK it’s called the expiring date and in America expiration date.

And well, again two words that mean the same thing. But expiry might be better because it’s slightly smaller. It’s slightly more efficient.

Grammar Man says:

I had never considered the latter word. I quite like it. And it’s shorter.

So here we go. He quite  likes expiry.

Remember latter and former, when you got two options. The former is the first one, latter is the second one, okay?

Number 39

My favourite one was where Americans claimed their family were “Scotch-Irish“. This of course it totally inaccurate, as even if it were possible, it would be “Scots” not “Scotch”, which as I pointed out is a drink said James in Somerset.

So, James gets very upset about the fact that Americans do have like family from Scotland or Ireland call themselves ‘Scotch-Irish’ and apparently that’s not correct because Scotch is a kind of whiskey and that the correct word is Scots not Scotch. This is kind of common thing. People say that Scotch is the adjective of Scotish and apparently it is not. But I think in America if you have like family history from that part of the world and everyone in America who comes from Scotland or Ireland might call themselves Scotch-Irish. Can you not just let them chose the way they talk   about their own culture.

Grammar Man says:

I never get between a Celt and his drink.

So he is saying that never get between a Celt and his drink because Celtic people are known for drinking a lot. So you should never get between -  never get in the middle of a Celtic person when they drink because it’s just not gonna be a happy situation. All right!

Number 40

I am increasingly hearing the phrase “that’ll learn you”

That’ll learn you -  that will learn you.

When the English (and more correct) version was always “that’ll teach you”. What a ridiculous phrase! says Tabitha in London.

 

That’ll learn you!

So, that will teach you. For example if someone – let’s say a child is doing something stupid and then fall over and hurt himself.

‘Aha, hurt and that’ll teach you. You shouldn’t climb on that. It’s dangerous, don’t do it. That’ll teach you’.

Apparently some people say: That will learn you. And sure it’s not strictly correct because something doesn’t learn you, you learn something, right? Something teaches you. But I think that will learn you is kind of part of usage in certain American dialects like maybe in the South. They might say: That’ll learn you.’ But most people don’t say that.

And Grammar Man says:

No self-respecting American with a high school diploma would ever say that, except in jest. So, they would only say as a joke.  (Actually, that phraseology may reflect the standard convention in the Appalachian dialect, in which case it would indicate a systematic, and therefore regionally appropriate, use of the verb.)

So if – enough people in that region use it – then that kind of makes it allright. I suppose. That is what Grammar Man is saying. But most people don’t say it. It’s just something in a particular dialect.

Number 41

I really hate the phrase: “Where’s it at?” “Where’s it at?”

This is not more efficient or informative than “where is it?” It just sounds grotesque and is immensely irritating, says Adam in London.

Grammar Man says: You are absolutely right. This is one of the two Americanisms listed here -  actually worthy of your scorn.The preposition at the end is unarguably superfluous. So superfluous means not necessary. Okay, so where is it at is not necessary to say ‘where is it?’ Fine. But you still hear that. It’s like ‘cool language’. Yeah the language of the kids. I don’t know why I am making a fool of myself but -  where’s it at? Where is the party at meaning where is the party?  I suppose if you want to sound cool with your friends -  if you are a teenager or something -  no I am obviously making a fool of myself here because I am in my thierties. I have forgotten what it was like to be a teenager. But if you are a teenager you might not want to say to your friends: ‘Come on where is the party?’ you might want to say: ‘Where is the party at?’

If you are a teenager and you listen to this:’What would you say?’ You can send your emails to Luketeacher@hotmail.com or alternatively just leave a comment below this episode of the podcast and I’d love to hear from you, oh, yes.

Number 42

Period instead of full stop from Stuart Oliver in Sunderland.

Well  a full stop is the dot at the end of a sentence. It just shows that the sentence is finished. Full stop. But in America , they call that a period. Fine! Two words – same thing. Full stop, the Americans say  period. You might hear that like in movies. ‘You are off the case, you are off the case, Johnson, period.’ Meaning you are not the police officer that is gonna handle this case and that’s it. Full stop. okay.

Grammar Man says:

They’re just different terms for the same thing.

okay

Number 43

My pet hate is “winningest“, used in the context “Michael Schumacher is the winningest driver of all time”. I can feel the rage rising even using it here. That’s Gayle in Nottingham.

So, she get really angry at the expression ‘winningest‘.

Okay, so  the word winningest – well, you have the word to win, obviously it’s the verb. You win a contest, winning is – you know – if you say: ‘I am winning.’ Obviously that’s  the present participle. So winning has become kind of a buzz word on the internet.

buzz word:Modewort

So if you are winning it means that generally  you are sort of like being cool or doing something well. As opposed to failing. Failing is when you are doing something badly or doing something wrong, winning it means you doing it well you are having a good time, you are cool. You are ‘down with the kids’, yeah -  winning, right?

So winning, Charlie Sheen, for example said winning a lot when he was on the internet having a mental breakdown

Winning, so it just  means being successful, right? So winningest is now like a new superlative, adjective from the word winning. So it’s just the case of the language being – some  people are just playing around with the language, changing it  around just for their own enjoyment.

Grammar Man says:

If I were living in a country that could never use that term self-referentially, I would hate it, too.

So he is saying that when people say winningest they are doing it as an ironic self-referential thing. They know that they are doing it. So he is saying that …he is critisizing Britain saying that in Britan people can’t use a term in a self-referential manner. But that’s not really true, because British people love to be ironic about the language they use but basically Gayle in Nottingham: ‘Don’t get too upset about it just   people  playing around with language.

Number 44 

My brother now uses the term “season” for a TV series. Hideous. That’s from D Henderson in Edinburgh. Hideous!

Hideous means absolutely awful. Absolutely horrible. So using the word season for a TV series – hideous – but it’s not really hideous. Is it because like a TV series. A TV series is obviously like a set – a number of shows that are broadcast within a certain period. We call it a series in the UK whereas in America they call them seasons, you know. If you have seen the first season of Lost for example. But I don’t see what’s wrong with season, really because it – kind of – often these TV series from America. They are quite long. They might last for months in which case it’s approbriate to call it a season. It’s all right. It’s not hideous. It’s fine..

Grammar Man says:

A TV series can run for multiple seasons. Do you, or your brother, not realize that?

Number 45

Having an “issue” instead of a “problem” says John in Leicester.

So an issue or a problem. Well, there is a difference between the word issue and the word problem. First of all the word problem has a kind of negative feel to it. So what happens is people tend to avoid using the word problem because they say don’t want to accentuate the negative. They want to keep it positive. So they say: We’ve got a couple of issues to deal with. It makes it sound more positive, and makes it sound less dramatic and it’s very common. At work, we talk about issues rather than problems just because it is more positive. So that’s really a case of subtle nuance. Subtle means like with very small details, differences and nuance means detail difference or slight difference. So there is a slight difference between saying there is an issue here and there is a problem here. Maybe you have an issue with the idea of like chosing to paint something in a positive light – maybe that seemed contrived but really it’s okay as a piece of usage because it’s clearly using a new ones  –it’s expressing something in a slightly more nuanced way, isn’t it. What’s wrong with that?.

Grammar Man says:

Apparently, the Brits have an issue with nuance.

Very funny!

 

Number 46

I hear more and more people pronouncing the letter Z as “zee”. Not happy about it! said Ross in London.

Well, basically in America they say zee and in Britain we say zet. So, although with the rapper Jay-Z,  we still call him Jay-Z (Jay zee) we don’t call him Jay-Z (Jay zet)  because…

haaaaaaaaaaaa

okay, it’s not the first time that happened. Just in case you were fallen asleep there was a little jingle just to kind of keep you on your toes and that also suggest to me I’ve got to hurry this up because that is a very long list. Quite an ambitious episode. I think I can go through the whole list and keep it riveting and keep it fascinating and entertaining at the end. Maybe you are fallen asleep. I don’t know. Maybe if you are great. I hope you are having a lovely dream about Americanisms. somehow, anyway, right. .

Grammar Man says:

I’m not happy about your criticizing my pronunciation without explaining your own.

So, good point. Why is zed correct and zee wrong? Come on!

Number 47

To “medal” instead of to win a medal. It sets my teeth on edge with a vengeance, said Helen in Martock in Somerset.

So to medal instead of to win a medal. Okay, it’s like Chris Lewis medalled three times at the Olympics  instead of Chris Lewis won a medal three times.

Grammar Man says:

How many times has your soccer team medaled in the past eleven World Cup Finals?

Okay, allright, Grammar Man

That’s a bit below the belt isn’t it? Anyway, it’s football, not soccer thanks. The sport that you refer to as football hardly involves contact between the ball and the foot. It should be called “Headbutt” or something. And what about The Baseball World Series? Come on! Only America takes part!

You know in America they call American football. They call it football but they don’t really use their feet. They throw the ball with their hands and they may like smash each other at the head with their helmets and in baseball there are big competitions called the Baseball World Series but it’s not… only America takes part in that. So it’s a bit arrogant to call it the World Series. So come on Grammar Man if we are gonna stop sort of sparing here  over sports  I am gonna have  to pick you up on that one.

Number 48.

I got it for free” is a pet hate. You got it “free” not “for free”. You don’t get something cheap and say you got it “for cheap” do you? said Mark Jones in Plymouth.

Well, I got it for free - I got it free okay, well, I think you say: I got it for ten pounds but if you got it for nothing some people might say I got it for free. I suppose  because on the price list you would see 10 pounds or just the word free. So I got it for 10 pounds or I got it for free. I suppose grammatically you don’t get something for free you get it for nothing. You get it free. Okay, fine, but you know, whatever I don’t mind that bit of that kind of use of grammar there. It doesn’t really bother me that much. But I suppose technically it’s not correct.

Grammar Man says:

You’re right, you can’t get grammar lessons for cheap. You can either buy a grammar book for $15 – $50, or you can read my blog for free.

Okay he doesn’t really talk about whether buying something for free is correct. But he uses read my blog for free.

Yeah, Okay.

Number 49

The penultimate point.

“Turn that off already“. Oh dear said Darren in Munich.

Turn that off already Turn that off already!

So, turn that off already meaning turn that off now, turn it off immediately. But already, no we don’t use it with now, do we? We  use it with – like present perfect ‘I’ve already turned it off.’ But this is like with the imparative: Turn it off already! You can’t – grammatically it doesn’t work. You can’t say turn that off already. Just turn it off now, turn it off immediately.

Grammar Man says:

You may have a point!

So he kind of agrees with me basically.

And number 50

The last one and this is from Jonathan in Birmingham and I’m gonna do a Birminghamian accent for this one.  . .

“I could care less” instead of “I couldn’t care less” has to be the worst. Opposite meaning of what they’re trying to say.

So I could care less instead of I couldn’t care less

Yeah, okay – it’s actually the opposite of what they are trying to say.

I couldn’t care less means I don’t care at all. But if you say: I could care less it means I could care less than what I care about now. So

Grammar Man says: You are without a doubt right. This is the second Americanism worthy of your scorn. As you point out, it means the opposite of what it is intended to mean.

Okay so final words from Grammar Man:

We Americans appreciate the language you Brits gave us. We only wish you would appreciate the improvements we’ve made since then.

Haa very good Grammar Man. So he is saying that these language changes are improvements.

Well, some of them are -  some of them might not be,  but they are all just parts of the way in which English changes and there are two and more than two – many more nuances than things in the language but generally speaking you may say there are sort of two versions of English -  American English and British English. You also get things like South African English, Australian English, New Zealand English and other types of English but American English is the most dominant than also British English too. They are just different. You as a learner of English  just have to be aware of the differences. But the main thing I would say is just try,  make sure it stays grammatically correct and make sure it’s clear and efficient and functional.

That’s it, I think  from this episode of the podcast. Look forward to more episodes soon. In fact I hope to do a follow-up episode to this one which will all be about Britishisms. Those are British bits of language which are invading American English and it’s quite interesting to note the differences. So for example in the UK people basically are a bit hositle towards Americanisms.They hate them. They think they are ugly and wrong and a disgrace whereas in America they look at Britishisms and they see them as being quite cool, quite trendy, quite cute. I suppose it’s because British English poses less of a thread to American English or maybe it’s because Americans are a little bit more open-minded about influence on their language.

to pose:darstellen

to pose threat:Gefahr darstellen

Okay, that’s it from this episode. Thank you very very much for listening. If you managed to listen all way to the end then well done. You should just have a cake or a biscuit or something as a way of congratulating yourself – yourself or just – congratulating yourselves or congratulation yourself.

Okay, thanks again for listening

Bye

5 thoughts on “121: Americanisms (Part 2)

  1. Luke Thompson

    COMMENTS ARCHIVE FROM PODOMATIC
    (about 1 year ago)
    hi Luke,
    today I was listening to your podcast episodes about americanisms, which I found really interesting. I had never thought that you (british people) might experience very simllar problems like us (germans) with americanisms polluting our beautiful languages in an annoyingly intrusive way.

    To be honest, I can’t really tell which is worse, to watch the language i grew up with slowly dissolve in an everlasting worldwide process of cultural change, or those narrow-minded arrogant idiots who instantly sense cultural decline whenever someone dares to lay hands on their beloved language. Ok, I think it’s obvious that I can tell very well which is worse. It really upsets me that they behave like they were the first generation of people to experience – and deprecate – development of language. And the only solution to this problem they can offer is to fence the language in to prevent it from being harmed? They must be gifted with outstanding intelligence. i don’t get it.
    Thank you very much for these great episodes!!!

    (about 1 year ago)
    Too bad that there’s not a (Part 3). These episodes are absolutely awesome. Hopefully we’ll know about your Mum’s opinion. That would be very interesting. Thanks to your Dad for suggesting you such a brilliant topic !

    muamar (over 1 year ago)
    hi teacher luke , i rely like your podcast you have nice voice , when I heard your voice for the first tim I sed to mysel that is what I looking for , if I listen to your podcast menny time I don’t pord , thanks very much

    (over 1 year ago)
    Thanks Luke for the second part. I found that very interesting to listen to your comments. I visited the Grammar Man’s blog too. Many of mentioned problems are beyond my depth, of course, because I am only an English beginner, but I have realised that American English and British English do not differ as much as some people claim. I have been listening to all your podcasts a number of times now not leaving any comments, but the last two podcasts have moved me as none before. Xenophobia, narrow-mindedness but first of all lack of knowledge about our own language. Exactly like in my country. I know, English language does have over 250000 different words. It is really a language of plenty, so there are not people who know everything about it. But ‘stop making comments and getting anger if you don’t know the matter!’. Ask before complaining. That would be obvious. Only 2 out of 50 claims are grounded?! It is sad and teaches us humility. Again, thank you for that. I really appreciate your effort and I am looking forward to the next episodes. All the best!

    Christa Bartels (over 1 year ago)
    I like all your podcasts and for me it’ good to listen to them more than once. Thank you, Luke, you know exactly that it is important for learners that you repeat words and phrases. I have been listening to your podcasts for only a short time and it’s a surprise to me, now I can speak fluently.

    Reply
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