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"Why do some Americanisms irritate people?"

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Tiux
United Kingdom
English to Estonian
+ ...
American English is getting on well Jul 30, 2011

There is another article on BBC about Americanism by Grant Barrett. I wasn't able to find it amongst the proz.com archive articles but since it is very much related to the above article, I think it is more suitable to add as a comment here anyway.

"There's been much debate on these pages in recent days about the spread of Americanisms - outside the US. Here, American lexicographer and broadcaster Grant Barrett offers a riposte." See more on: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-14285853


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liz askew  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 09:06
Member (2007)
French to English
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Quotation from the article Jul 30, 2011

As a speaker of British English, I am one of those complainers. I have never lived in the US of A, though I have been there as a tourist. I am wondering about one of the statements in the article in any case...


"English is, in truth, a family: American English and British English are siblings from the same parentage, neither is the parent of the other. They are two siblings among many modern-day varieties"..

Is this historically, biologically and linguistically accurate for a start?

When I am asked by agencies to translate French or Spanish into American English, I say that I am not American and don't know American English. It is as simple as that. I would be dishonest otherwise.

Liz Askew

By the way can I make it 100% clear that I respect my American proz colleagues!! However, we are all entitled to our views.

[Edited at 2011-07-30 15:24 GMT]


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Eileen Cartoon  Identity Verified
Local time: 10:06
Italian to English
Liz - I do the same Jul 30, 2011

I do the same in reverse. I tell them I don't know British English and the only thing I can do is use the EN-UK spell checker.

Maybe we should share

Eileen


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Rachel Fell  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 09:06
French to English
+ ...
No, Jul 30, 2011

liz askew wrote:

"English is, in truth, a family: American English and British English are siblings from the same parentage, neither is the parent of the other. They are two siblings among many modern-day varieties"..

Is this historically, biologically and linguistically accurate for a start?


I don't think it is.


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Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 01:06
English to German
+ ...
Here is a nice thread Jul 30, 2011

http://www.proz.com/forum/off_topic/203657-british_offended_by_americanisms.html


Please read it in entirety.

What an ado. No German would ever mock Swiss German or Austrian German the way Brits are complaining about American English.


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susan rose  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 01:06
Member (2011)
German to English
How true! Jul 30, 2011

Nicole Schnell wrote:

No German would ever mock Swiss German or Austrian German the way Brits are complaining about American English.


There might be poking fun at accents, but we all need to know which group we don't belong to! Take that horrible accent they have down in Texas for example...
Seems like a growing number of 'wordsmiths' are taking themselves too seriously-- The vast majority of people just use language as a daily tool to get a whole lot of things done...imho


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Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 01:06
English to German
+ ...
It takes more than a spell checker. Jul 30, 2011

Eileen Cartoon wrote:

I do the same in reverse. I tell them I don't know British English and the only thing I can do is use the EN-UK spell checker.


Please respect the different vocabulary and the different language. For quality reasons I never accept translations into Austrian or Swiss German, for example. Why? Because I respect those languages and because a spell checker and different punctuation won't magically turn my German into Swiss German. Americans are too polite to complain about funny British English in public. They do giggle their heads off, though. In private.


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 09:06
Member (2007)
English
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I believe they are siblings Jul 30, 2011

liz askew wrote:
"English is, in truth, a family: American English and British English are siblings from the same parentage, neither is the parent of the other. They are two siblings among many modern-day varieties"..

Is this historically, biologically and linguistically accurate for a start?


I wouldn't like to say that it is absolutely accurate in all ways as I have never studied the English language except at school and in teacher training. However, as an EFL trainer, I have to justify what I teach so I have done some research and I would say that British English has itself changed so dramatically since the birth of American English that it cannot possibly be thought of as the parent language.

Many British English speakers hate words like "gotten" and "dove", saying that the "correct" forms are "got" and "dived". Yet research shows that it is precisely the American forms that were used in the UK once upon a time. It is British English that has changed in many areas.

I believe what I tell my students - with American settlers originally many weeks or even months away from their British families, the two versions of English developed in isolation, becoming more and more different over time. Now, they are just a "click" away and the two variants are coming back together.

As a British citizen, I'm certainly sorry to see the Americanisms swamping the BE versions, and there are many that I would not personally use. But it's only the ones that dramatically alter grammatical rules that upset me because, as an EFL trainer, they are really difficult to accept. Expressions like "My bad" and "He done good"!:roll:


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Phil Hand  Identity Verified
China
Local time: 16:06
Chinese to English
Not afraid of big bad American Jul 30, 2011

I think the "sibling" metaphor is quite a reasonable one. Certainly the process by which British and American English split - one group of speakers moved to a new place - is the classic way in which language family trees split. The process has been rather disturbed by the development of mass communications, but it was never that clear cut to start with.

Sheila says:

"I'm certainly sorry to see the Americanisms swamping the BE versions,"

I think we can be a little bit more confident in our language than that. British English seems to me to be doing fine, and I'm proud to report that my American friends still look on in great confusion when the British expats here get together and start jabbering away in our quaint little accents and our odd British jargon. British English is robust enough to accept a few Americanisms without getting "swamped". (I'm particularly fond of "bathroom", myself. Much more acceptable in polite company than anything British.)


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Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 01:06
English to German
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Please do read this thread (see link above). Jul 30, 2011

Sheila Wilson wrote:

I wouldn't like to say that it is absolutely accurate in all ways as I have never studied the English language except at school and in teacher training. However, as an EFL trainer, I have to justify what I teach so I have done some research and I would say that British English has itself changed so dramatically since the birth of American English that it cannot possibly be thought of as the parent language.

Many British English speakers hate words like "gotten" and "dove", saying that the "correct" forms are "got" and "dived". Yet research shows that it is precisely the American forms that were used in the UK once upon a time. It is British English that has changed in many areas.

I believe what I tell my students - with American settlers originally many weeks or even months away from their British families, the two versions of English developed in isolation, becoming more and more different over time. Now, they are just a "click" away and the two variants are coming back together.

As a British citizen, I'm certainly sorry to see the Americanisms swamping the BE versions, and there are many that I would not personally use. But it's only the ones that dramatically alter grammatical rules that upset me because, as an EFL trainer, they are really difficult to accept. Expressions like "My bad" and "He done good"!:roll:



I am really, really tired of the perception of American English, commented by Brits who never or hardly ever have set foot on American soil. Do you really think that we all speak like gangsters in movies or that everybody here lives in the ghetto? Or that we express ourselves in pop song lyrics English? Quite insulting, I would say. Sigh.

Also, please read my comments on 50 (!) silly comments on so-called "Americanisms", as they turn out to be nothing but good, old Brit English.

Visit me. My house has guest rooms.


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liz askew  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 09:06
Member (2007)
French to English
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The Brits mock a lot of things, including themselves Jul 30, 2011

For the record.



BTW, I like to learn from other languages, but as a British English speaker, born and bred, I like to be honest with people from the outset. Were I to take on American English totally, I would confuse myself! and the translation companies I am working for!

It has nothing to do with better or worse English, just recognising where I myself stand.

Vive la différence, it is very important, and I think many people from many different countries would agree with me!

[Edited at 2011-07-30 19:25 GMT]


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Rachel Fell  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 09:06
French to English
+ ...
Furthermore... Jul 30, 2011

The thing about the "50 things Brits don't like about americanisms" or whatever the title is, is that they are personal opinions of British speakers of English who happen to have had the time and opportunity, etc., to write emails to that BBC Radio 4 thread - I mean, to say the least, most of them are probably not lingusits.
I like lots of things about American English, but it has many influences other than English in it.


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Sheila Wilson  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 09:06
Member (2007)
English
+ ...
Insulting? Jul 31, 2011

Nicole Schnell wrote:
I am really, really tired of the perception of American English, commented by Brits who never or hardly ever have set foot on American soil. Do you really think that we all speak like gangsters in movies or that everybody here lives in the ghetto? Or that we express ourselves in pop song lyrics English? Quite insulting, I would say. Sigh.


You quote my entire post Nicole. Could you perhaps isolate the part you found insulting? I'm really not at all sure I implied anything of the sort - I certainly didn't intend to.

My intention was to point out that differences between the two variants cause problems sometimes for EFL trainers. There is nothing an elementary-level student likes better than to come to you and say "but you said ..." Teach them the adjective "bad" and they will want to know why they hear "my bad". Your comment in the other thread, Nicole

Using this baby talk during a conversation would earn you a blank stare.


is definitely out of line with its use in the UK. It's considered very fashionable and has largely replaced "my fault" from the Board Room down.


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Nathaniel2
Local time: 10:06
Slovak to English
I don't know Jul 31, 2011

where people are hearing the phrase "that'll learn ya" - is it on a television show or in a lot of films? I've never heard this phrase (other than as something tongue-in-cheek). Perhaps the people who are hearing this phrase frequently should associate with more educated people - at least at the high school level

No offence to anyone, I love all languages in all of their forms. They are fascinating.


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Nicole Schnell  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 01:06
English to German
+ ...
Sorry, Sheila - this wasn't meant as a direct comment to your post Jul 31, 2011

My apologies if it seemed to be a direct response, this was not my intention.

I was rather referring to discussions in the Kudoz forum in my language pair, where remarks such as "not very elegant, but it will do for US readership", "too colloquial, you can use this only in the US" and such are all too common. And annoying...


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