Speak American!

Published 12th April 2011
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American English

Here in Britain, it’s not too unusual an occurrence to hear someone bemoaning the influx of Americanisms into the English language. It’s something that has continued to happen as television and the movies have gained popularity. Now with the internet, the two countries are closer than ever. But it never occurred to me that there might be Americans complaining of the same thing. Even that some of our sayings and slang might have caught on over there.

Then I saw Not One-Off Britishisms, a blog written by Ben Yagoda. I wouldn’t say that he appears to be ‘bemoaning’ this trend of using British slang in America.  More that he is observing it. Each post is dedicated to a different word or idiom. At the end of each post he asks readers whether he thinks the term’s use in the USA is “over the top”. Something Ben defines as whether “the word or phrase (still) comes off as mannered or affected”. He notes that “the key factor in this is whether there’s an equally good American equivalent”. As the name implies, the blog only comments on terms that are not ‘one-offs’. Meaning that they are habitually used by Americans.

It’s a good read, especially for those of us who are not too keen on the invasion of Americanisms in Britain. I’m not one of them, but I still found it interesting.

So, what do our readers think? Do you think all this cross-contamination between British and American English is a good thing, or should they be separate languages? Does this signal a new dawn in linguistic unity?


Aquí en Gran Bretaña, es frecuente escuchar a alguien quejándose de la afluencia de americanismos que se encuentran en el inglés. Es algo que ha ocurrido aparalelamente al aunmento de popularidad de la televisión y el cine. Ahora con internet, los dos países están más cerca que nunca. Pero nunca se me había ocurrido que podría haber estadounidenses quejándose de lo mismo. Incluso que algunos de nuestros refranes y modismos se habían hecho populares allí.

Entonces vi Not One-Off Britishisms, un blog escrito por Ben Yagoda. Yo no diría que se está “quejando” del uso de la jerga británica en América. Sino más bien está observando esta tendencia. Cada post está dedicado a una palabra o modismo diferente. Al final de cada mensaje pregunta a los lectores si el uso del término en los EE.UU les parece “excesivo”. Si piensan que la palabra o frase queda demasiado afectada, señalando que el factor clave en este tema es si existe o no un equivalente americano igualmente válido. Como su propio nombre indica, el blog sólo comenta aquellos términos que no son ‘one-offs’ (excepciones) – refiriéndose a términos que son utilizados habitualmente por los estadounidenses.

Es una buena lectura, especialmente para aquellos que no estamos demasiado interesados en la invasión de americanismos en el Reino Unido. Aunque no soy uno de ellos, aún así me pareció interesante.

¿Qué piensan nuestros lectores? ¿Creéis que todo esto de la contaminación entre el inglés británico y el estadounidenses es algo positivo, o deberían ser idiomas diferentes? ¿Significa esto una nueva ruptura en la unidad lingüística?

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