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The on bad terms dialect - politics


I was in a state to learn the other day, that my all-time favourite George Bernard Shaw quote may not in fact have been spoken by him.

Nevertheless, even the misquotation that Britain and the United States are two countries at odds by a customary language, will ring true with any British Expat who has tried to make their new home in America.

There are hundreds and in all probability thousands of words that are atypical or represent a altered consequence or intent.

British associates advent to America often fake that they've pulled out up the whole thing they need to know about American English from a days of consuming American movies and television.

There is, undeniably, a huge gain Britons have over other migrants, just by discourse a variant of the same language. It is also amazing how much British English has itself befall Americanised.

Forty years ago it would have been challenging to find a British character alive who pronounced the word desk in any way other than the short, clipped sec-rit-tree. These days, that sounds old-fashioned to many associates in the U. K as the American sec-reh-tar-ee has taken full root. Mind you in Britain forty years ago, no-one said "hi" and few citizens knew what a teenager was.

In these globalised days American slang takes only a few months to cross the Atlantic, such as the 90's fad of accumulation "not"on the end of sentences, or maxim "I'm like" as a alternate for "I thought" or "I said" which has regrettably survived well into the new Millennium on both sides of the Atlantic.

Perhaps it is since of the every day incidence of American English in Britain that few British Expats realise what a linguistic minefield they are inward bound when they cross over that big moat.

The very worst feelings to adopt when incoming on these shores, is what the expert transatlantic announcer Alasdair Cooke once referred to as closely deciding that ". . . . Americans are British colonize gone wrong. "

There is a long and disgraceful account of British depreciatory at the way Americans speak, often based on ignorant assumptions.

Now of course, we all have our own beefs about American pronunciations. I wince every time I hear the American head say noo-coo-ler for nuclear. I've never quite worked out why some Americans say eye-talians for Italians. (Does this mean the kingdom is called eye-taly?) And I feel like inflicting a great deal of real animal pain on a big name when I hear, even tested American sports broadcasters, call the tennis competition Wimble-ton or even more horribly Wimple-ton - as if the d in Wimbledon is by some means invisible.

But for every one of these ear-sores, we are equal occasion manglers of American English. Brits routinely mispronounce moderately clear-cut American place names such as Michigan, Houston and Arkansas. And even though pleas from the artist herself, the British fixedly junk to pronounce Dionne Warwick's name the way it is pronounced in America - plainly war-wick.

In fact, there is a great body of past demonstrate that American English is much earlier to chronological English in England, than the account that is oral today in avant-garde day Britain.

It may come as a alarm to the sneerers to learn that words such as fall, for autumn, mad for angry, trash for hogwash and scores of other Amercanisms all come from Elizabethan England. Many linguists deem that the accent Shakespeare's plays would have been performed in would have sounded nil like the classic renditions we've heard by Gielgud or Olivier. These linguists consider that the accent typically heard in Shakespeare's Globe Theatre, would had a clear-cut twang that we would accomplice today with the west country. A hardly bit more like, shock of shocks, the American accent.

Indeed, Gielgud and Olivier spoke what we know in Britain as acknowledged or BBC English. This is now by and large acknowledged to be an upper-class Victorian affectation. It all the same became the banner English of community schools and was rammed into the consciousness of the British ancestors with the beginning of BBC radio in the 1920s. While it may have produced some sort of accepted out of a chaotic anthology of wildly differing regional dialects, it is an artificial, about worthless construction that has more or less no chronological value in the agreement of the way English was spoken.

So if we agree to that those early settlers in America took with them some of the vocabulary and sound of historic England, it's still amazing that the idiom survived the ambush of consequent settlers.

In the back half of the 19th century some thirty million ancestors poured into America, counting Austro-Hungarians. Germans, Swedes, Dutch, Ukrainians, Irish, Poles and Russians. By 1890 there were over 300 German newspapers in the U. S.

French was once oral broadly in a geographical ribbon that stretched from Quebec (where it is still the first foreign language today) to New Orleans. Cajun - a mangling of Acadian - still survives as a expression today.

Words poured into the American linguistic landscape from all these groups and others: Cookie came from the Dutch, avocado and mustang from the Spanish, canoe and tobacco from native Americans.

It may be a short description but it has been an intense one. When you certainly stop to believe it, it's amazing American English does bear as much similarity to what is verbal in advanced day Britain. After all, the Dutch and the Belgian Flemish in point of fact share a border, but often find each other unintelligible.

But even when you've been humbled by the past evidence, it does not check the unsuspecting Brit from cocking up (to use a encouraging ripe old British expression).

In fact it is since the English is so alike connecting the two nations that the pitfalls befall bigger.

You can make a accomplished fool out of manually in the clear-cut act of ordering a cup of tea. Except you explicitly ask for "hot tea" in America you're just as possible to be served iced tea. (Of course, some would argue that even the hot tea is neither hot nor tea).

Some of the differences are exceptionally subtle.

A word like jolly in Britain has gained a large range of meanings. There is the jolly Minister Christmas of course. But we also say a bigwig is jolly when they're drunk, or in the sense of humouring or appeasing: To jolly along. It's used to express perks or sensational fun; "I see he's in receipt of his jollies". We express clothes as being "jolly good". It's also used by some British people, commonly those who sound a bit like Penelope Keith, in phrases such as "I'm going to jolly well go down there and give him a piece of my mind!".

In America jolly has only one consequence - merry. Other definitions used on this side of the pond will be greeted with bemused stares.

Some words are just calculated to be confusing. A pavement in Britain is a path in America - where a pavement means the definite road or street. How potentially precarious could that be?

I once had an exceedingly long and bizarre chat ahead of I gritty that that an aerial is an anttena in America.

Similarly video as a noun refers only to a tape, not the machine. In the States the automaton is a VCR.

I quite a short time ago had to carry out some swift dent check when I was taken to a party consisting basically of my girlfriend's family. My host, benevolently introduced me to everyone.

"This is Lee. " she said and then added helpfully, "He's English. "

"Well spotted!" I replied, a tad derisively but meant harmlessly, maybe summoning up a a small amount Basil Fawlty humour. The whole room fell into an uncomfortable silence as I searched desperately for a hole to open in the breathing room carpet that would encircle me.

Not only was the buoyant sarcasm absolutely misinterpreted but nonentity in the room had a clue what "well spotted" meant anyway.

That story does in spite of this illustrate what a lonely place being trapped in concerning two cultures can be. This can be compounded by the cruel line of associates looking for any corroborate that you've gone soft in the head when you return to the U. K

"Hmmmm! You've got a twang!" is a characteristic comment as a rule accompanied by conscious looks symptomatic of an instinctive cultural superiority. Then, with all the human understanding found in the act of pulling wings off butterflies they'll slyly hunt and bound upon every piece of newly acquired vocabulary or potentially abusive pronunciation.

Once, when submitting a story to an editor in Britain, she noticed I had continually used the word "lines".

"Do you mean queues?" she asked.

"Oh yes I do. " I replied, discomfited by let an Americanism slip in.

"Mind you, " she added kindly "Line is a much more coherent word. "

"Oh I don't know," I replied ambiance a hasty rush of British nostalgia. "I think queue is quite a charming word. "

"My dear Mr. Carter," she scolded, in her best schoolmistress voice, "if you're initial to find your own associates charming then you exceedingly have gone native!"

And so this is the netherworld we inhabit. Neither one nor the other

But the next time you're struggling to order a cup of tea, or to make a fool out of manually in the drug store, or if you're called a hopeless yank by your British friends, just prompt by hand that you're in fact a part of a new breed of hardy internationalists.

This critique was first in print on http://www. britsinamerica. com

Brits In America (c) 2005 All Civil rights Reserved

About the author: Lee is a self-employed journalist, who has worked for frequent publications and media outlets on both sides of the Atlantic together with the BBC and CBC.

Lee can be contacted at lee@britsinamerica. com


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