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Trolleys, maths, Ebonics, and more stuff about language

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Trolleys, maths, Ebonics, and more stuff about language

Posted July 25th, 2011 at 1:54 PM by Esper

Before I start what will surely be a very long post, let me say that I love languages. I love learning them, reading about them, listening to them. My biggest regret in college was not going for a linguistics degree because I didn't realize I could until it was too late.

So I'm bringing up this topic because of two things. One was an article I saw on the BBC news website where Britons got to complain about their least favourite Americanisms and the other was something someone at work said to me. Let me start with that second one because it's more outrageous and attention grabbing.

I work at a school. My coworker and I were talking about how well students do in the English classes because that's what you talk about here, and somehow or another she starts talking about how we have a lot of black students who don't do very well in their English classes despite doing well in other classes. She says - these are her words exactly - "maybe it's because of that pig English they speak." I hear this and very quickly several things go through my brain. I know, right? What kind of racist thing is that to say? You work at a school! Then I thought, oh, wait, she probably meant to say pidgin English, like a kind of creole language that evolves when you get people who don't have a mutual language to speak. Wait, wait, that's still kind of racist and offensive. Argh. What do I say? So as I sit there she goes into how dumb the idea of Ebonics is and I start wishing she'd kept her voice down or that I could find some excuse to get away.

And that's the end of that story. Nothing special, just showing you how awful coworkers can be. D:

Now for something I really enjoy: the differences between American English and British English and how upset people get over them. You can check the link above and see the article of complaining Britons for yourself, but I've also taken the liberty of adding their list below.

Some of these complaints make sense, some don't. Some are things I've never heard in America (and would make me cringe if I did) and some of the suggestions the Brits who contributed to this list made are hilarious. My favorite one it the suggestion that we should say 'fortnightly' instead of 'bi-weekly' but the list also includes some of my favorite Britishisms such as 'full stop' (which we Americans call a period) math with an S (I think it's so cute to hear this), and trolley which makes some people this of this:

But makes me think of this:

Here's that list, btw.

1. "Can I get a..."
2. "least worst option"
3. "two-time" and "three-time" vs. double and triple
4. 24/7 vs. "24 hours, 7 days a week"
5. "deplane"
6. "wait on" vs. "wait for"
7. "It is what it is"
8. fanny pack
9. "touch base"
10. "physicality"
11. Transportation vs. transport
12. "leverage"
13. "turn" as in to turn 18
14. "shopping cart" vs. "trolley"
15. "gotten"
16. "I'm good" vs. "I'm well"
17. "bangs" vs. "fringe"
18. "take-out" vs. "takeaway"
19. "ridiculosity"
20. "a half hour" vs. "half an hour"
21. "heads up"
22. train station
23. "alphabetize it"
24. "my bad"
25. "normalcy" vs. "normality"
26. "burglarize"
27. "oftentimes"
28. "eaterie"
29. "bi-weekly" vs. "fortnightly"
30. "alternate" vs. "alternative"
31. "hike" as in hike prices
32. "going forward"
33. "deliverable"
34. "a million and a half" vs. "one and a half million"
35. "reach out to" vs. "ask"
36. "math" vs. "maths"
37. "regular" vs. "medium" sized coffee
38. "expiration" vs. "expiry"
39. "Scotch" vs. "Scots" (not the drink)
40. "learn" vs. "teach" as in "that'll learn you"
41. "Where's it at?" vs. "where is it?"
42. "period" vs. "full stop"
43. "winningest"
44. "season" as in a television season
45. "issue" vs. "problem"
46. "zee" vs. "zed" for the letter Z
47. "to medal" vs. "to win a medal"
48. "I got it for free" vs. "I got it free"
49. "Turn that off already"
50. "I could care less" vs. "I couldn't care less"
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  1. Old Comment
    Cherrim's Avatar
    I just kind of blink at some of the list. I understand the ones where the meaning really does get lost (the1.5mil one, for example), or the grammatically incorrect ones that I never hear anyway ("winningest"?? who says that?) but why get so angry about "alphebetize"? o_O It makes more sense to use that to me since it takes less time to say and you get straight to the point with a verb for the action instead of having to describe it.

    And the ones where they whine about how North America has a different word for takeaway/fullstop/fringe just baffles me and makes me wonder if they feel their dialect (is that a dialect? I'm unfamiliar with exactly what to call the difference between Britain/American English) is in such danger that they have to lash out at the prevalent one in a lot of media. :x
    Posted July 25th, 2011 at 2:12 PM by Cherrim Cherrim is online now
  2. Old Comment
    Cherrim's Avatar
    ...but then again, I can totally understand the zee/zed one since it bothers me so much when my Canadian friends pronounce the letter Z the American way. It's one of the few things in Canadian English that you can actually differentiate in spoken word from American English so it stands out more than if a friend writes "colour" and forgets the U. XD;

    /too cool for edits
    Posted July 25th, 2011 at 2:14 PM by Cherrim Cherrim is online now
  3. Old Comment
    Mr Cat Dog's Avatar
    Some of those, I feel to be slightly legitimate, but most of them just feel like British people acting up for stupid reasons. There's a definite anti-American bias that certain age groups in the UK exhibit, which probably accounts for the stupid ones.

    The ones you mentioned, though, I do believe in. Maths; fortnights; full stops (every time I hear period used in a grammatical construct, my mind goes elsewhere for a split-second every time) and especially trolleys. They're DEFINITELY used in supermarkets!
    Posted July 25th, 2011 at 2:16 PM by Mr Cat Dog Mr Cat Dog is offline
  4. Old Comment
    Oryx's Avatar
    Best comment on that article:

    "Hwæt! Wé Gárdena in géardagum
    þéodcyninga þrym gefrúnon
    hú ðá æþelingas ellen fremedon.

    I trust everyone who has complained about Americanisms creeping in to the English language will have no trouble understanding the above. That's what English looked like around 1,300 years ago.

    Language evolves."

    Some of them are funny and oh-so-British, and some of them are just dumb. Alphabetize, really?
    Posted July 25th, 2011 at 2:17 PM by Oryx Oryx is offline
  5. Old Comment
    Aquacorde's Avatar
    That article made me giggle. Also, your co-worker seems a bit... oh how do I say it?... annoying, perhaps, is the closest I can come without being quite rude.
    Posted July 25th, 2011 at 2:20 PM by Aquacorde Aquacorde is offline
  6. Old Comment
    I've never heard someone say "least worst option," "deplane," "wait on," "ridiculsity (I can't even pronounce that!)," "eaterie," "hike," "deliverable," "Scotch," "learn," or "to medal." The people in the article must have met some truly stupid Americans.
    But it does annoy me when people say "a half hour," "alternate," and "I could care less." Especially "I could care less."
    Posted July 25th, 2011 at 2:51 PM by
    Updated July 25th, 2011 at 2:56 PM by Patchisou Yutohru
  7. Old Comment
    Esper's Avatar
    Don't feel like editing so I'mma just going to add a few thoughts.

    Some of the grammar mistakes (if you want to call them that) we Americans make I think aren't so bad. Like saying "Where is it at?" Having the 'at' there makes it clear you're just asking for the location and not, I dunno, asking "Where is it going?"

    I'm also mystified why "train station" bothers anyone. Normally I can guess, but I'm lost over this.

    Originally Posted by TheSmartOne View Comment
    That article made me giggle. Also, your co-worker seems a bit... oh how do I say it?... annoying, perhaps, is the closest I can come without being quite rude.
    Naw, be as rude as you want. She's not the nicest person and she'll never see this anyway. ;D
    Posted July 25th, 2011 at 2:55 PM by Esper Esper is offline
  8. Old Comment
    Rogue planet's Avatar
    Oh God I always cringe at these; both the weird Americanisations and the crazy British people that think they're in 1892.
    Although I never did see why America felt the need to bring the menstrual cycle into grammar.

    This list is confusing me, I'm not sure I'm looking at it right. But anyway...

    1. "Can I get a..."
    2. "least worst option"
    5. "deplane"
    7. "It is what it is"
    9. "touch base"
    19. "ridiculosity"
    23. "alphabetize it"
    27. "oftentimes"
    28. "eaterie"
    33. "deliverable"
    43. "winningest"

    ^ I've never heard of those.

    Most of the time I hear people say, 24/7, wait for, transport, trolley, I'm good, fringe, takeaway, half an hour, normality, fortnightly (bi-weekly? is this a joke?), alternative, one and a half million, regular, maths, expiration, (Scots? Are we talking about Scottish people?) teach, where is it, full stop OF COURSE, issue and problem are used equally, zed. "I could care less" just doesn't make logical sense when you look at it's meaning.

    I'm told I talk like an American though. Probably because I spend more time watching films with American actors than actually talking to people in my own country.

    Okay just read the article. Why is some guy getting mad about Train Station? I've never heard anyone call it anything else. These are some weird people who clearly have no idea what they are whining about.

    It always reminds me of Moe in The Simpsons calling a garage a car hold.
    Posted July 25th, 2011 at 7:44 PM by Rogue planet Rogue planet is offline
    Updated July 25th, 2011 at 7:52 PM by Gold warehouse
  9. Old Comment
    Alternative's Avatar
    Why am I against Alternate? :P

    But as I'm Australian, and I know most of those british terms, I'm siding with them because it's what I know best.
    Posted July 26th, 2011 at 12:45 AM by Alternative Alternative is offline

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