Thursday, February 16, 2012

And 2012’s most annoying Americanism is . . .

Although I consider myself something of an Americophile, I still get annoyed by teenagers, z list celebs and reality TV contestants peppering their speech with inane Americanisms.  

English is a perfectly good language which was good enough for Shakespeare and the King James’ Bible but not, it would seem, cool and hip enough for a certain breed of modern Britons. 

Before I reveal the one that is getting under my skin at the moment (even when uttered by Americans) let’s recap and look back at some of the Americanisms we have been subjected to in the recent past:

  1. We have had decades to get used to the word “like” uselessly and endlessly punctuating the speech of the vacuous but it still manages to grate somehow particularly when combined with the habit of turning a statement into a sentence.  That’s really, like, annoying?
  2. There’s a whole series of urban African-American speech habits that are often used by Brits for comic effect but it long ago ceased to be funny to say “girlfriend”, “talk to the hand” etc
  3. Saying that you, or someone else, doesn’t “do” such and such.  For example: “I don’t do ordinary”.  I am not sure this habit originated in the States but I would be surprised if it didn’t and I wish it hadn’t spread over here. 
  4. Adding a “not” at the end of a sentence to turn an affirmative into a negative, again for supposed comic effect.  That’s still really funny . . . not!
  5. “Can I get a coffee to go”.  Enough said.
  6. Anyone who says “math” for “maths” has watched too many imported shows (sorry, programs) on E4
  7. I am fed up with Americanisms … period.  It’s quite a useful verbal device to end with “period” but surely saying the same with “full stop” at the end would be more appropriate in this country.

But to bring things right up to date, the one Americanism that I find increasingly creeping into British speech is “my bad”, as in “I forgot to get you a birthday card.  My bad”.   

Judging by a Google search to find the origins of the phrase “my bad”, it is not new to express contrition with this nonsensical phrase but it hadn’t registered with me until recently.  Now I seem to hear it more and more and I find it cringeworthy.

Just to repeat I love America and most of these expressions sound OK coming from the right lips. I just don’t like non-Americans talking like they have just stepped off the set of Beverley Hills 90210 or American Idol.

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  1. 5 year old grandaughter with hands on hips to grandad following dispute over who should have the last strawberry yoghurt. "Grandad, you are SO ruining my life!"

    Don't know if it qualifies but very amusing at the time.

  2. How about "You'll need to preplan this." What, plan before you plan?!

  3. The pre in pre-plan definitely seems redundant. More of a tautology more than an Americanism?

  4. My bad. Sorry about my Americanisms... NOT!


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