The Nation’s DD Guttenplan wrote for us about the invasion of “Britishisms” in the American language. Hilarity (in the thread) should ensue…
The British are coming! The British are coming! For decades, you British have been kvetching (or as you might say, “whingeing”) about the way we Yanks have been spritzing our two cents plain (“sparkling water” to you) American argot into the limpid, lambent loveliness of the Queen’s English.
And though I generally try not to be “chippy” about the widely held view that my countrymen and women are bunch of rubes and yahoos – on display most recently in Downton Abbey, where Shirley MacLaine’s caricature of a rich American finally drove me out of the room with annoyance – whenever I am asked to assent to the proposition that American influence is driving the English language to hell in a handbasket, my response is: get over it!
Well, that’s the polite version. I mean first of all, when did the British need any help from anyone else with being vulgar? Ever heard of Geoffrey Chaucer? And second of all, just as I hope we are properly grateful for the immense linguistic riches bequeathed to us by Shakespeare and the committeemen who wrote the King James Bible (and no, I’m not being ironic. Americans don’t do irony – or so my children tell me), so you ought to thank us for the swell examples of colloquial communication found in Hollywood films like His Girl Friday or Bringing Up Baby. I mean what’s not to like?
But are you grateful? No way, Jose! There are exceptions, of course. James Joyce had Molly Bloom schlep around Dublin in 1922 – but Joyce was an Irishman, and without the Irish (and the Jews and African-Americans) the American slanguage would still be stuck on first base.
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