Friday, 23 December 2011

Objective Proficiency p 84. Americanize!: Why the Americanisation of English Is a Good Thing

Do words like movie or cookie raise your linguistic hackles? Do you hate to hear someone ask if they can 'get' a coffee or 'reach out' to you? Lexicographer Susie Dent - more usually found in the Dictionary Corner of Channel 4's Countdown - explores the history of how Americanisms have entered British English and argues that maybe we should learn to love these transatlantic imports.
Susie hears from the Queen's English Society about why they feel British English should be protected; We discover that dislike of Americanisms goes back to Dr Johnson and hear from the Chief Editor of the Oxford English Dictionary about some of the surprising words which started life on the other side of the Atlantic; There's another surprise when Susie travels to Stratford upon Avon and discovers that some of the most disliked Americanisms first appeared in Shakespeare's plays; There's an actor's perspective on this when Susie meets Tamsin Greig, who's been appearing in Twelfth Night at the National Theatre; Rock and roll singer, Marty Wilde, remembers teenagers' enthusiasm for all things American in the 1950s and their elders' despair at this assault on the English language.
Susie concludes with an exhortation to all of us to throw off our British linguistic reserve and to Americanize! - if only a little bit. She encourages us to embrace the verve of American vocabulary, and to recognize that many of our American bugbears actually came from Britain in the first place.

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