British American English

Last week, Jeremy missed a spinning class because he was sick. When I got home, I told him, "Elina (the spinning instructor) asked after you today." Jeremy looked at me a little weird, and replied, "you mean she asked about me?" Yeah...I guess.

Yesterday, Miriam had a homework assignment where she had to survey everyone in the house re: their favorite sports, then draw it up in a graph. Jeremy told her his favorite sport was soccer, but when I checked her homework later, she had written his answer as "football." When we asked her why she changed it, she said, "well,  that's what they call it here."

With all the Britishisms creeping into our speech here, it was with great interest that I read this article (written by someone named Cordelia Hebblethwaite!!!!!). Those of you who are in the US, have you noticed this supposed increased British influence on American English? I was surprised by some of the terms mentioned in the article - I have never had the sense that "will do" was anything but American. Same with "sell-by date" and "go missing." Am I just out of touch?

On the other hand, I absolutely use the word "university" instead of "college." It takes a little effort, because (at least in my dialect) most casual references to that period of my life I would instinctively phrase as "in college," or "when I graduated from college." In front of my students and other acquaintances not familiar with the US, I always use "university," even though it sounds unnatural. It's at least clear.

I also use the word "ginger" to describe red hair. That's what everyone calls it here, so I fell in line. Do people really say "ginger" in the US now, too?

Anyway. Here is a response to the article from one of the professors quoted in it, Geoffrey Nunberg. And here is a blog about Britishisms spotted in the US. Finally, here is a list of the changes that were made in the first four UK Harry Potter books, for an American audience. Stuff like "jumper" and "revision" I get, but I think maybe we could have handled "lavatory" and "wonky"? Maybe?

October 5th, outsourced

Church oddities