Oct 12, 2012

NYT on Britishisms

Hilarious article about how more and more Britishisms are creeping into American English (after decades of articles about how American media is corrupting pure British English). Having lived in the UK for six years now, with a British husband and a toddler who asks my help for going "to the loo" and likes "Wheatabix for brekkie," I definitely noticed my own vocabulary expanding to include terms like "post office" and "parcel" - though H has been adopting some Americanisms.

Here's my own take on the expressions featured in the article - a sort of self-help test ("Have YOU become Anglicized?"):

"bumbling toff" - the term makes me think of Boris Johnson, but I don't think I've ever used it.

"kit" (for equipment or what not) - H uses this a lot, but I don't recall consciously saying it.

"fortnight" - no.

"cheers" (as thank you) - no, and I've noticed H using it less.

"brilliant" - yes, to replace "awesome."

"loo" - I say this when talking to T, though I usually say "restroom" or "bathroom."

"mate" as friend - as a kid seeing this word in English books always made me stumble a bit, but I've since started using this ironically and with increasing frequency.

"to ring [someone]" - no.

"mobile" - yes.

"flat" - yes.

"holiday" - there it is - the first word I wouldn't have pinpointed as a Britishism. I use to describe...holidays.

"over 'a coffee'" (as opposed to just "over coffee") - yes.

"sacked" - no.

"rubbish" - when talking to T.

"clever" - no.

"no worries" - no.

"queue" - sometimes.

"wonky" (for weird) - sometimes.

"lads" - probably mostly to describe tools and douchebags.

Cockney rhyming slang - not a fan. H used to think it was cute, though.

"have a [look, rest, etc.]" - yes, though it makes the grammarian in me cringe.

"kettling" - again, I didn't realize this was a specifically British expression.

"ginger" - I still don't get the red-hair hate over here: I loved Pippi Longstocking and later Anne of Green Gables, and would have killed for red hair. Is it English racism against the stereotypically russet Scots and Irish? H's family has a weirder sort of preoccupation with asking if someone is "going ginger" (T's brown hair turns auburn in the summer sun, as mine used to). So no.

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