Friday, July 29, 2011

I'm a (tacky) pisser!

I speak - and write - English, not American! I have ongoing discussions with American friends about the common language we share, with amusement on both sides of the divide at the idiosyncracies to be found in the American English and the British English as she is spoke..Honestly, some days I would swear - in my best accent, of course - that Brits and Americans speak totally different languages. It seems I am not the only non-American English speaker who has noticed this.

Then I find this on the BBC online:

Viewpoint: Why do some Americanisms irritate people?

US flag and Union Flag

British people are used to the stream of Americanisms entering the language. But some are worse than others, argues Matthew Engel.

I have had a lengthy career in journalism. I hope that's because editors have found me reliable. I have worked with many talented colleagues. Sometimes I get invited to parties and meet influential people. Overall, I've had a tremendous time.

Lengthy. Reliable. Talented. Influential. Tremendous.

All of these words we use without a second thought were not normally part of the English language until the establishment of the United States.

The Americans imported English wholesale, forged it to meet their own needs, then exported their own words back across the Atlantic to be incorporated in the way we speak over here. Those seemingly innocuous words caused fury at the time.

The poet Coleridge denounced "talented" as a barbarous word in 1832, though a few years later it was being used by William Gladstone. A letter-writer to the Times, in 1857, described "reliable" as vile....

There is more here. Apparently after that column appeared, the readers weighed in, and the results are hilarious (to my warped sense of humoUr, anyways.) Take a look:

Americanisms: 50 of your most noted examples

The Magazine's recent piece on Americanisms entering the language in the UK prompted thousands of you to e-mail examples.

Some are useful, while some seem truly unnecessary, argued Matthew Engel in the article. Here are 50 of the most e-mailed.

1. When people ask for something, I often hear: "Can I get a..." It infuriates me. It's not New York. It's not the 90s. You're not in Central Perk with the rest of the Friends. Really." Steve, Rossendale, Lancashire

2. The next time someone tells you something is the "least worst option", tell them that their most best option is learning grammar. Mike Ayres, Bodmin, Cornwall

3. The phrase I've watched seep into the language (especially with broadcasters) is "two-time" and "three-time". Have the words double, triple etc, been totally lost? Grammatically it makes no sense, and is even worse when spoken. My pulse rises every time I hear or see it. Which is not healthy as it's almost every day now. Argh! D Rochelle, Bath

4. Using 24/7 rather than "24 hours, 7 days a week" or even just plain "all day, every day". Simon Ball, Worcester

5. The one I can't stand is "deplane", meaning to disembark an aircraft, used in the phrase "you will be able to deplane momentarily". TykeIntheHague, Den Haag, Holland

6. To "wait on" instead of "wait for" when you're not a waiter - once read a friend's comment about being in a station waiting on a train. For him, the train had yet to arrive - I would have thought rather that it had got stuck at the station with the friend on board. T Balinski, Raglan, New Zealand

7. "It is what it is". Pity us. Michael Knapp, Chicago, US

8. Dare I even mention the fanny pack? Lisa, Red Deer, Canada

9. "Touch base" - it makes me cringe no end. Chris, UK...

As the title says, this is a list of 50, so go and read the rest here. While you are there, be sure to read an American's spiel in the right sidebar about the 'shifting nature' of language. All edumacational.

The headline of this post really does describe me, apparently. I recently was told "You're a real pisser!" (The 'tacky' was added on during a later conversation.) When I first heard that pisser comment, I was almost offended because where I come from, that would be considered rude and insulting. However, being me, I asked what the name-caller meant, since I couldn't imagine that this particular person had enough reason to be that rude to me..Turns out that being a pisser is a GOOD thing, if you are from New York, at least. And yes, when I was told I am tacky - by the same person, I might add - I proudly claimed that too, but corrected them with "You mean I am a tacky pisser!"

So it is: I may not speak with an American accent, but I AM a tacky pisser. 24/7. It is what it is.

1 comment:

WOTN said...

310 Million Americans can't be wrong!!! And if the prim and proper on the cold dismal isle think otherwise, well, let's just put it to a vote!!!

Or, should they prefer, let them go buy a pack of "fags," for 10 pounds, while the SanFrans get all up in arms, and we complain of our $4 packs of cigarettes. That's "free" healthcare for ya!