Are you plagued by Americanisms?

Some people get irritated by words or phrases invented or popularised by speakers of American English. But many of the Americanisms that are twisting people’s knickers (or panties) aren’t American. What’s behind this cross-continental scuffle?

Linguist Daniel Midgley bridges the gap on this week’s Talk the Talk.


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Show notes

The Matthew Engel article that started it all:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/14130942

Mark Liberman’s patient response:
http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=3271

Then the BBC does it again:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-14201796

And Robert Lane Greene set things right:
http://www.economist.com/blogs/johnson/2011/07/peeves

As does Dennis Baron:
http://blog.oup.com/2011/08/ugly-americanism/

“Dictionary of Americanisms”, by John Russell Bartlett (1848)
This is a very enjoyable look at what people considered to be Americanisms at the time.
http://www.merrycoz.org/voices/bartlett/AMER02.HTM
But keep in mind that many of these are not really Americanisms — they first appeared in books printed in England, Scotland, or elsewhere. Check the Oxford English Dictionary if you want to be certain.