Peeve of the week: 20% correct

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Matthew Engel ("Why do some Americanisms irritate people?", BBC News 7/13/2011) starts out by describing the phenomenon of American lexical influence on British English. His description is even partly accurate:

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 never part of the English language until the establishment of the United States.

The Oxford English Dictionary cites reliable as in regular British use for more than two centuries before the establishment of the United States. The first citation for talented, in the relevant sense, is from Edward Bulwer-Lytton, a quintessentially and even parodically British writer. The relevant sense of influential was first used by Roger North, who spent all of his 83 years in England, and died more than 40 years before the American revolution. The OED's first citation for tremendous in the "extraordinarily great" sense is from the English poet Robert Southey.

But it's absolutely true that the OED's first two citations for lengthy are from John Adams in 1759 and Benjamin Franklin in 1773. And when Sir Walter Scott used the word in his 1829 work Chronicles of the Canongate, he flagged its trans-Atlantic origin:

Here I stopped to draw breath; for the style of my grandsire, the inditer of this goodly matter, was rather lengthy, as our American friends say.

So Mr. Engel is correct about the history of one in five of his cited Americanisms. A score of 20% is not bad for mass-media peeving.

Before long, Mr. Engel drops the documentary pretense and lets his peeve flag fly, complaining about "ugly and pointless new usages" like "hospitalize, which really is a vile word", and "starting to creep in, such horrors as ouster".

It's a matter of taste whether hospitalize is "ugly and pointless" and "a vile word", but whether it's "new" is a matter of fact. And even if we interpret "new" to mean "new in British usage", this claim seems to be less than entirely correct, although an irrational animus against this word is apparently more common in the UK than in the US. The OED's first two citations are from the Daily Chronicle (London) in 1901 and 1904, and hospitalized was used in the British scientific publication Nature as early as 1946.

As for ouster, in the sense of "Ejection from a freehold or other possession; deprivation of an inheritance", the OED gives impeccably English citations back to 1531.  And in the sense of "Dismissal or expulsion from a position; (more generally) removal from a place or situation", the OED indicates that the creeping horror began 240 years ago in the very bosom of Merrie England:

1782 Nomencl. of Westm. Hall Pref. p. xxxi, in Ld. Glenbervie Biogr. Hist. of Sir William Blackstone,   Whenever the Lord Keeper of the Great Seal is removed from his high office, be the same by resignation or ouster; that he should be immediately‥created a peer of the realm.

In the end, this article never really tries to answer the question posed by its headline, "Why do some Americanisms irritate people?" Calling certain words ugly, pointless, or vile expresses the irritation, but hardly explains it. And the premise that these words are an alien intrusion is false more often than not.

A few years ago, I tried to explain this kind of public peeving as an ritual of group identity formation ("The social psychology of linguistic naming and shaming", 2/27/2007):

Linguistic sins, real or imaginary, are not really what's driving this process. And the original emotion of irritation, though sometimes expressed in colorful displays of (mock?) disgust and anger, is also secondary, I think. The real key is the public ritual [of] "naming and shaming", which helps the group to converge on a set of norms. (While giving everyone a good deal of pleasure along the way, apparently.)

As we gripe-debunkers relentlessly demonstrate, these aren't the usual norms of linguistic usage. They're not even the norms of the standard language or the norms of elite users. These days, those accused of offending against these odd, artificial norms are as likely to be high-status people — politicians, business managers, journalists — as members of (linguistically) lower-status groups — blacks, young people, Americans, athletes.

On this view, it doesn't matter whether the "Americanisms" that "irritate people" are actually from America at all. The BBC News editors promise their readers, at the bottom of Mr. Engel's article, that "A selection of your Americanisms will be published later". As long as Mr. Engel can rally his compatriots to share the experience of communal irritation at alien linguistic intrusions — real or imaginary — he will have done his job.

Update — more here and here and here and here.



72 Comments

  1. Ray Girvan said,

    July 16, 2011 @ 7:33 am

    The OED's first two citations are from the Daily Chronicle (London) in 1901 and 1904

    The experiment has amply demonstrated how much better it is in all cases to domesticate than hospitalise children.
    Chambers' Edinburgh Journal, 1846

    … and multiple uses in "Effects of hospitalism on healthy men", The Lancet, Nov 20th 1869 (page 700).

  2. m.m. said,

    July 16, 2011 @ 7:39 am

    First thing that came to my mind when I read the title is that it needs to be about 20% cooler <3

  3. Nick Lamb said,

    July 16, 2011 @ 8:06 am

    I've been expecting this post ever since I saw the article on bbc.co.uk. Just as a forge with no gateway means your Protoss opponent is cheesing you, a list of "Americanisms" without citations means the journalist is bullshitting you.

  4. JL said,

    July 16, 2011 @ 9:09 am

    Wouldn't Google's NGRAM be a better source than the OED on this sort of thing? After all, the point isn't really whether such words have their absolute first use in the US or the UK; he does say "never part of the English language" but to take that absolutely literally seems to me to be a bit, well, literal-minded. With some of the words he cites, NGRAM does indicate that American use increases a few decades before British use (though the multiple meanings or uses of the others makes it hard to tell).

    [(myl) Maybe. But the distribution of genres surveyed over time is unknown, and probably not comparable in the soi-disant "American" and "British" collections. Anyhow, it's hard to see much of a pattern in the time-functions for American and British histories of these words.]

  5. ENKI-][ said,

    July 16, 2011 @ 9:21 am

    I would like to point out that terms and usages may originate in one place in one time, but only become common outside of a particular context in a different place at a much later time. The term 'hypertext' was coined in 1960, but was not in wide use outside of an extremely small group until the mid-1980s, and was not in wide use outside of computer science until the mid-1990s. While I can't cite an origin for the word 'dag', it almost certainly predates 'hypertext', but unless you are a mathematician or managed to get through a fairly theory-heavy CS program, you probably don't know what it means. There's yet another hurdle between the point at which a word is common enough that it's recognizable and the point at which a word is common enough to be capable of eliciting the kind of response made above (which would mean that the author, by some confusion of circumstances, perceives or imagines a sudden increase in the use of a given term in his immediate surroundings).

    [(myl) All true. And this means is that it's conceivable that "tremendous", for example, was first used (in the "extraordinarily great" sense) in England, later became very popular in the U.S. and then became popular in England as an Americanism. It's also conceivable, in the absence of evidence, that its increase in popularity was due to the influence of Winston Churchill and Virginia Woolf.]

  6. hanmeng said,

    July 16, 2011 @ 9:33 am

    Good one. I love the Language Log's public ritual of naming and shaming these people (ugh!) with their silly language peeves, which helps the group of Language Log readers to converge on a set of norms. (While giving everyone of us a good deal of pleasure along the way.)

    (By the way, I hate it when people write "eww" instead of "ugh" Or is it the other way around?)

  7. LDavidH said,

    July 16, 2011 @ 9:54 am

    IMHO, the really interesting aspect of the Atlantic language divide is why the same word (e.g. "biscuit") has taken on different meanings in the two countries, or why different words have become "standard" even though both are known on either side (e.g. "car" vs. "automobile" or "shop" vs. "store"). Using a standard US word in the UK or vice versa is what gives us ESL speakers away! (That, and our accent, of course…)

  8. Ian Preston said,

    July 16, 2011 @ 10:44 am

    You can find almost the same list of supposed Americanisms in H. L.Mencken's 1921 The American Language :

    The English authors who burden every west-bound ship, coming here to lecture, have especially sharp ears for such neologisms, and always use them when they get home – often, as we shall see, inaccurately. Dickens was the first of these visitors to carry back that sort of cargo; according to Bishop Coxe he gave currency in England, in his "American Notes", to reliable, influential, talented and lengthy. Bristed, writing in 1855,said that talented was already firmly fixed in the English vocabulary by that time. All four words are in the Concise Oxford Dictionary, and only lengthy is noted as "originally an Americanism". Cassell lists them without any remark at all; they have been thoroughly assimilated.

    Bill Bryson seems to attribute the same list to Dickens' influence in Made in America.

  9. Ben Hemmens said,

    July 16, 2011 @ 10:47 am

    Bungalow, chit, dinghy, juggernaut, jungle, khaki, pundit, pyjamas, shampoo, thug, verandah.

    All of these words we use without a second thought were never part of the English language until …

  10. Xmun said,

    July 16, 2011 @ 11:13 am

    @ENKI-][ "While I can't cite an origin for the word 'dag', it almost certainly predates 'hypertext', but unless you are a mathematician or managed to get through a fairly theory-heavy CS program, you probably don't know what it means."

    The word "dag" has long been familiar to us in New Zealand in an ovine sense. It's the name for those dangly bits of shit stuck in a sheep's wool around its rear end. There are also two other senses, both likewise unrelated to computing, listed in Chambers Dictionary.

  11. Chris Brew said,

    July 16, 2011 @ 11:19 am

    Mr. Engel, News International Visiting Professor of Media at Oxford University. 2010-2011, former editor and current editorial director of Wisden) is clearly taking the long handle. When he realizes how insular his article is he will really be hit for six. I'm stumped that he can say all this. Maybe his subconscious mind was bowling him googlies. Howzat? He doesn't have a (short) leg to stand on. Which leaves him on a sticky wicket. This is not cricket.

    All these words that we use without a second thought were never part of the English language until the Brits gave up baseball …

  12. Ray Dillinger said,

    July 16, 2011 @ 11:37 am

    @Xmun; in America, those dangly bits of shit around a sheep's rear (or any animal's) are known as "dingleberries." The word dag, in the computer science/mathematics sense, used to be an acronym (Directed Acyclic Graph) but has somehow lost its acronymy and become a simple colloquially pronounced word — among that small portion of the population who have a reason to speak of such things anyway.

    Oddly, my spellchecker rejects acronymy, dangly and dingleberry. The latter I expected as it's very slangy and informal, but the first two seem entirely acceptable to me.

  13. Chris Brew said,

    July 16, 2011 @ 11:55 am

    Yes. I realize many of these cricket metaphors are idioms or multi-word phrases, but it really shouldn't matter where you put the spaces in your lexical items.

  14. Jerry Friedman said,

    July 16, 2011 @ 12:09 pm

    @Chris Brew: That gave me a smile, but the OED says that the sense of stump you used ("to nonplus") is "orig. U.S.", and "The primary reference was prob. to the obstruction caused by stumps in ploughing imperfectly cleared land." A real Americanism!

  15. Chris Brew said,

    July 16, 2011 @ 12:33 pm

    I should have known. I am well aware of Tom and Ray Magliozzi's "Stump the Chumps" section on CarTalk, and that certainly is not cricket.

  16. JL said,

    July 16, 2011 @ 12:45 pm

    I don't know enough about the details of Google's corpus, or their methods, to know how reliable it is. — But then, I don't know enough about the OED's, either. Have the researchers at the latter, over the years, gone through more than 5.2 million books? Is human error less common than OCR mis-recognition? (These are not rhetorical questions: I'm genuinely curious.)

    As for that the NGRAMs show, just glancing at them it seems that both 'reliable' and 'influential' become common in American English significantly earlier than they do in British English. The difference is perhaps not distinct enough so to justify Mr. Engel's ire, but it's not clear to me that he can be easily dismissed as a fraudulent blowhard, either.

  17. JL said,

    July 16, 2011 @ 12:47 pm

    "…as for what the NGRAMs show…" Someday I'm going to get better at proofreeding things before I post…

  18. KJ said,

    July 16, 2011 @ 1:23 pm

    Interesting light you shed on the word "lengthy". Gives me pause to consider the shudder-inducing "spendy" that's used here in the upper Great Plains. Personally, I hope it never makes it past the borders.

  19. Adrian said,

    July 16, 2011 @ 1:31 pm

    Crikey. So Engel copied most of his list, without attribution. What a lazy, bogus piece of "journalism".

  20. wally said,

    July 16, 2011 @ 1:42 pm

    proofreeding ?

  21. JL said,

    July 16, 2011 @ 1:52 pm

    Wally, one of us has lost his sense of humor. I'm pretty sure it's you.

  22. LQ said,

    July 16, 2011 @ 2:10 pm

    I am looking forward to the upcoming list and to finding out how many of the reader-submitted items are just voguish Britishisms, international English, Australian English, regional or "lower class" British slang, jargon that's just as much disliked in the US, and so on. Perhaps someone can make us a bingo card.

  23. Americanisms and the BBC « Dug-up Commonplaces said,

    July 16, 2011 @ 3:01 pm

    [...] Looks like Mark Liberman, who actually is a language expert, covered this piece this morning over at Language Log, complete with an explanation of why it doesn't really matter whether or not the claims Engel [...]

  24. John Walden said,

    July 16, 2011 @ 3:25 pm

    Certainly most lists of differences between AmE and BrE contain words that I believe to be used on both sides of the pond. One such is "taxi"and "cab". So "taxi" is BrE? This might surprise both the makers of Taxi-Driver (De Niro, Foster) and the people of Britain who say "cab".

    Can/Tin is another; it's more complicated than just one is AmE and the other BrE.

    Apparently what I've always called a "coaster" I should have been calling a"drip-mat".

    And so on:

    http://www.davidappleyard.com/english/britishglossary.htm

    If this is what an "authority" can come up with then, yes, the readers submissions will be at least as inaccurate.

    My little bet is on the triple of:

    1) An objection to 'Hopefully, ….." (peeved against in AmE too)

    2) Someone objecting to "take a shower" and preferring "have". Not for any good reason.

    3) Someone objecting to an American euphemism for "crapper" and expressing a preference for a British one, as if "public convenience" was a better bit of prudery than "restroom".

  25. LQ said,

    July 16, 2011 @ 3:56 pm

    @John Walden, yes, that kind of thing is one reason why I put down either Cambridge or Oxford's book on World Englishes (I forget which). It shouldn't have been entrusted to one author, period (full stop), let alone one with apparently no or limited exposure to North America south of the Great Lakes. The list of US/UK differences was absurd; the author described Canada as a country with a huge variety of languages within its borders, but not the US; the list of American regionalisms contained a few hits but just as many baffling claims; Spanish and Spanish-influenced English spoken in North America was represented solely by Mexican immigrants, etc. After reading that section, I didn't feel I could trust anything he had to say about India or Nigeria or other places with which I'm less familiar. At any rate, the list of AmE vs BrE alone made my eyes pop. I might go dig it out, but it's buried under a lot of other things at the moment.

  26. Pflaumbaum said,

    July 16, 2011 @ 4:10 pm

    There's a fair chance gotten will be invoked as a supposed innovation. Plus the 'illogicality' of could care less.

  27. lucia said,

    July 16, 2011 @ 4:14 pm

    Gives me pause to consider the shudder-inducing "spendy" that's used here in the upper Great Plains. Personally, I hope it never makes it past the borders.

    I first heard "spendy" in Richland, Washington. I don't think I've heard it in the Chicagoland area. It's not my favorite adjective. If it catches, it catches though.

  28. Patrick Neylan said,

    July 16, 2011 @ 5:38 pm

    It seemed a rather shallow article, but written journalism isn't the BBC's forte.

    "Ouster" might have existed for centuries, but I first came across it about five years ago and assumed it was a mistake. Presumably an "ouster" is a person who ousts someone else. So why would anyone say "ouster" instead of "ousting"?

    Public Convenience and Restroom are both too euphemistic for my taste. I'll stick with loo, bog or, if I'm feeling very informal, kharzi (a word borrowed from the Zulus).

  29. maidhc said,

    July 16, 2011 @ 6:23 pm

    "Tremendous" was the punchline of a joke in a routine by British comedians Flanagan and Allen in the 1930s. My grandparents had a 78 RPM record of it.

  30. dw said,

    July 16, 2011 @ 8:03 pm

    Patrick Neylan:

    So why would anyone say "ouster" instead of "ousting"?

    Because they learned it that way. That's how language works. As for the confusion, blame those darned Norman Frenchies with their stupid infinitive endings.

    I'll stick with loo, bog or, if I'm feeling very informal, kharzi (a word borrowed from the Zulus).

    It's actually from Italian "casa" according to Wiktionary, backed up here by Google Books.

    Your nonstandard spelling with "r" does charmingly give away your nonrhoticity.

  31. Ken Brown said,

    July 16, 2011 @ 8:30 pm

    @Patrick Neylan – from Italian rather than Zulu it seems!

  32. Rod Johnson said,

    July 16, 2011 @ 8:41 pm

    "the shudder-inducing 'spendy' "

    Oh the irony.

  33. Stephen C. Carlson said,

    July 16, 2011 @ 8:54 pm

    The use of "lengthy" by John Adams in 1759 may be American but it is nonethless too early to support the the claim that it was "never part of the English language until the establishment of the United States."

    So he's actually 0%.

  34. slobone said,

    July 16, 2011 @ 10:17 pm

    @Ian Preston, wait a minute, is nobody else going to point out that all 4 of the words on Mencken's list are also on Engel's list? That surely can't be a coincidence. I deduce that Engel has been reading Mencken, or possibly Dickens, or Bishop Coxe. In which case he surely understands the impeccably British lineage of these "Americanisms". I consequently deduce that he's just trolling, as we say…

  35. Barrie England said,

    July 17, 2011 @ 1:54 am

    I listened to Mr Engel delivering his ill-tempered and ill-informed piece on the radio last night. I agree with ML's every word.

  36. Dave said,

    July 17, 2011 @ 2:41 am

    How interesting that American and Antipodean friends should have their own special words ("dag" and "dingleberry") for winnet. For years I have wondered what a dag was after seeing it used in a Paul Hogan sketch, and I can, after nearly 30 years, now see why Fat Freddy's Cat objected so strongly to being called Dingleford – perhaps the connection was too strong for even him.

    I can now go to my grave in peace. Thanks LanguageLog.

  37. maidhc said,

    July 17, 2011 @ 4:21 am

    I see Australians complaining about the introduction of Americanisms, mostly with the same lack of research. But Australian English is very innovative. I don't see Australian writers complaining about local coinages like "hoon", "westie" or "bogan" (see here).

    [(myl) For lovely example of extreme linguistic xenophobia combined with extreme linguistic determinism, see "'America's toxic culture' invaded Oz — in words?", 8/6/2010. Needless to say, the cited examples in that case are even more extremely illusory.]

    I don't read the NZ or South African press all that much (except sometimes James Clarke, who occasionally discusses language issues), so I don't know if these matters crop up there. (Note: this site is going totally wonky (to use a Briticism) with respect to links. I'm following the preview and hoping for the best.)

    Canadians seem to take these matters in stride. And in the US, while it is not hard to find writers complaining about the decline in standards, there is little complaint about adoptions from other dialects. A lot of British usages seem to be arriving, perhaps from the Britcoms on PBS and "Dr. Who". (I mentioned the "Benny Hill" meme a little while back.)

    As the US adapts to Indian food (something that happened earlier in the UK), Americans are learning about "naan", "vindaloo", etc. In the hi-tech world, the influx of Indian engineers has everyone learning that Hinglish is nothing else but a very another way of expressing oneself.

    I hear also a lot of Spanglish in the casa, which doesn't seem to bother the gente.

    There are a lot of things that Americans complain about. Adoptions from other dialects doesn't seem to be one. I would say maybe because American speech is so diverse, except that British speech is also very diverse. So I don't know.

  38. [links] Link salad tools up to fly home | jlake.com said,

    July 17, 2011 @ 5:10 am

    [...] Peeve of the week: 20% correct — I love it when people moan about the decline of the language. And kids today. [...]

  39. A. said,

    July 17, 2011 @ 9:12 am

    By the way, I hate it when people write "eww" instead of "ugh" Or is it the other way around?
    For me they are different in both pronunciation and in meaning: the former is pronounced approximately like the word ewe and expresses disgust, the latter is pronounced like the STRUT vowel plus a velar/uvular fricative and expresses frustration.

    Someone objecting to "take a shower" and preferring "have". Not for any good reason.
    Well, “[have] a shower” is twice as common as “[take] a shower” in the BNC but seven times as rare in the COCA (though, since those things are probably a lot more common in unrecorded speech than in writing or the kind of speech likely to end up in a corpus, I don't think it's unconceivable there might be some kind of selection bias). I had never seen this mentioned anywhere before, so I thought no-one else had noticed that. (I found that out after a discussion between two NNSs about which was correct, and the NS they'd asked to adjudicate that answered “I don't know, I think I use both.”)

  40. Anthony said,

    July 17, 2011 @ 12:03 pm

    For this American, to "have a shower" means that there is a shower in one's home, or hotel room, etc.

  41. Rafael Beraldo said,

    July 17, 2011 @ 12:06 pm

    Since I begun studying Linguistics, it irritates me that it irritates me when people shorten words in Portuguese (my mother tongue): things like “me adiciona no Face”, meaning “add me on Face[book]”, or “comprei um note novo”, “I have bought a new note[book]”. (This of course doesn’t happen only when the word ends in -book, I just couldn't think of more examples.)

  42. maidhc said,

    July 17, 2011 @ 6:05 pm

    Rafael Beraldo: In English, we sometimes shorten words from the back, like "hood" for "neighbourhood", "bus" for "omnibus", "cello" for "violoncello", and so on. This often leaves the shortened version with no easily discernible relationship with the original, which should be even more annoying than the Portuguese examples, or difficult for learners anyway. Then, as with two of my examples, the original falls out of use completely in favour of the illogically shortened one.

  43. Terry Collmann said,

    July 17, 2011 @ 7:25 pm

    On "ouster", even if it first appeared in BrE, I would guarantee that, like me, Mr Engel has noticed it only in the past six months. This is because it has been appearing regularly in American news wire stories talking about what happened to Presidents Mubarak and Ben Ali, and what many desire should happen to al Assad, Qaddafi and Saleh, with "protesters demanding their ouster". That's simply not a BrE expression – not just because we don't use the word "ouster", incidentally, but because we're much more likely to say "demonstrators" than "protesters", that is, in full, "demonstrators demanding their departure".

  44. Joshua said,

    July 17, 2011 @ 8:28 pm

    I would also note that while Southey and Bulwer-Lytton were British, they did all their writing after the American Revolution (Southey was born in 1774, and Bulwer-Lytton in 1803). Therefore, it may well be literally true that the words "talented" and "tremendous" in the senses described were not part of the English language until after the establishment of the United States, notwithstanding that the introduction of those words may have had nothing to do with Americans.

  45. Matt McIrvin said,

    July 18, 2011 @ 7:16 am

    The interesting question is: why are usages that irritate people nearly always described as Americanisms?

  46. Matt McIrvin said,

    July 18, 2011 @ 7:21 am

    There are a lot of things that Americans complain about. Adoptions from other dialects doesn't seem to be one.

    Which is odd, given the powerful strain of language-xenophobia in American culture. Americans (of a certain variety) don't complain about dialect adoptions, they complain about hearing people speak non-English languages in public or having to press 1 for English.

  47. Matt McIrvin said,

    July 18, 2011 @ 8:23 am

    I'm pretty sure I have seen a few American complaints about Britishisms like "whinge" starting to appear in American writing, possibly blamed on the Internet. But it's rare.

  48. Ray Dillinger said,

    July 18, 2011 @ 10:58 am

    Americans are entirely accustomed to having to glark new words from context; it's almost considered a game. If one accepts it as such, then hearing a diverse dialect isn't so much a difficulty as a delight, an invitation to play another round.

  49. Ken Brown said,

    July 18, 2011 @ 3:04 pm

    @Ray Dillinger – but so are Brits

  50. John Burgess said,

    July 18, 2011 @ 7:15 pm

    It is a law of nature: Peevers gotta peeve.

    There are American peevers who are happy to express their dismay at the decline of good ol' American English like Jesus spoke. They do rail against the intrusion of British words and phrases no matter the pedigree of the source.

    As noted, "whinge" is currently drawing attention, as is "wank". In addition to British (and Irish) media, there's also the flood of British (and Irish) actors now calling Hollywood home. Their guest-appearances on various TV shows gives many Americans an introduction to informal BrE. The young, nimble, glib, and hip pick them up and make them their own.

  51. Matt McIrvin said,

    July 18, 2011 @ 11:40 pm

    "Wank" is an odd one since I know Americans have been using it for decades. "Wanker" as all-purpose rude insult does sound stereotypically British but it's hardly unknown or odd to Americans.

  52. Glynis van Uden said,

    July 20, 2011 @ 9:45 am

    Have you read the list of Americanisms sent in by BBC website readers? I don't think they're even all Americanisms! I think the most sensible comment is made by Bob, Edinburgh (no. 19).

    [(myl) Geoff Pullum discussed the list here. After giving the list a quick scan, I'd be surprised if even half of the 100 were actually "Americanisms" in any rational sense of the word. As (alas) usual, amazingly shoddy journalism at the BBC, at least with respect to linguistic matters.]

  53. waxyjax said,

    July 20, 2011 @ 4:39 pm

    a people who invade Spain each summer but can't pronounce "paella" shouldn't gripe about Americanisms

  54. PhilA said,

    July 21, 2011 @ 3:21 am

    Serves us right for trying to impose solid discipline on a plastic sphere.

  55. Here we go again: Americanisms | Not From Around Here said,

    July 21, 2011 @ 5:33 am

    [...] Language Log rebuttal, showing how wrong the original article [...]

  56. Delicious kerfuffle | Not One-Off Britishisms said,

    July 21, 2011 @ 7:37 pm

    [...] wheelhouse of University of Pennsylvania linguist Mark Liberman, who summarily demonstrated in a post for Language Log–the invaluable blog he curates–that four of the five words were not [...]

  57. Word snobs – more irritating than jargon, Americanisms and teen-speak | Flip Chart Fairy Tales said,

    July 22, 2011 @ 3:32 am

    [...] or became more widely used in America. These two posts from linguistics professor Mark Liberman explain just how silly the whole thing is. This Economist piece puts the BBC's ranting readers in [...]

  58. This Week’s Language Blog Roundup | Wordnik ~ all the words said,

    July 22, 2011 @ 9:44 am

    [...] week on supposedly irritating Americanisms (or irritating supposed Americanisms?). Language Log had one or two things to say about it, as did Johnson, The Economist’s language blog; John McIntyre at [...]

  59. Journalists must be arbiters, not stenographers « Motivated Grammar said,

    July 22, 2011 @ 4:10 pm

    [...] of 50 pet grammar/word peeves supplied by their readers, without any evidence of American origin. Mark Liberman, Lynne Murphy, Lane Greene, and John McIntyre all have great posts on the matter already. I've got [...]

  60. Late to the party said,

    July 25, 2011 @ 12:31 pm

    Is it just me, or does Engel's "Overall, I've had a tremendous time" sound very English? As an American, I would never describe anything as "tremendous" unless it were very, very large.

  61. Can’t we all just get along? | As a Linguist… said,

    July 26, 2011 @ 6:35 am

    [...] article, Dan at "The Blog Formerly Known as @SFX" posted a reply. Then, on 16 July, Mark Liberman wrote a post over at Language Log about how 4 out of 5 of the examples in the article were actually of British [...]

  62. Punjabi immersion, Nigerian pidgin radio, and Annoying “Americanisms” | the world in words said,

    July 28, 2011 @ 9:02 am

    [...] into British English. His BBC article was hugely popular, and largely inaccurate according to Language Log. That didn't stop hordes of BBC users posting their own irritating [...]

  63. “Americanisms are ruining the English language” « Ian James Parsley said,

    August 5, 2011 @ 1:50 am

    [...] by Matthew Engel, also highlighted another point – many so-called "Americanisms" aren't "Americanisms" at all. To me, that is an even more interesting matter than which genuine Americanisms happen to irk us or [...]

  64. Lingua Franca - The Chronicle of Higher Education said,

    September 14, 2011 @ 7:41 pm

    [...] checking whether his examples did indeed come from America. Bad policy. Mark Liberman over at Language Log did some digging into the [...]

  65. Is speaking the language all it takes to be an expert? « Motivated Grammar said,

    October 6, 2011 @ 12:14 pm

    [...] for linguists checking their work? Engel, who offered five Americanisms to start his column with only one of them actually coming from America? I'm sorry if he finds it patronizing for Barrett or anyone else to tell him he's wrong [...]

  66. If you don’t mind, darling, we’ll keep on improving the English language | Rebecca Connop Price said,

    December 27, 2011 @ 4:53 pm

    [...] by Matthew Engel about Americanisms became a hit with readers. But as many Americans, including Mark Liberman, have subsequently pointed out, some of the "American" phrases used in the column [...]

  67. The Colonization of the English Language | ALTA Language Services said,

    May 15, 2012 @ 8:00 am

    [...] at Language Log posted a great response to Engle's article. Liberman's rebuttal, "Peeve of the Week: 20% Correct," notes that only 20% of Engle's Americanisms actually stem from American English. In [...]

  68. Anti-anti-Americanismism « Sentence first said,

    September 27, 2012 @ 8:06 am

    [...] is not new, or American, or “vile”, necessarily – that Language Log gave him a score of 20% for history. See also Gabe Doyle’s considered post on the implications for journalistic standards at the [...]

  69. Ten things you might not have known about the English language | Oxford University Press said,

    May 9, 2013 @ 4:52 am

    [...] Britain, the use of “Americanisms” is almost guaranteed to upset people. But not all Americanisms are what they seem. For [...]

  70. “Britizismus” im amerikanischen Englisch (und umgekehrt) - ESL Expertise said,

    August 22, 2013 @ 9:16 am

    [...] zu den üblichen Artikeln über Amerikanismen, die in das britische Englisch „eindringen“ (viele vermeintliche Amerikanismen sind nicht wirklich amerikanischen Ursprungs). Diese Artikel erzeugen im Allgemeinen Unmengen von Kommentaren, besonders von Seiten der Briten, [...]

  71. Les « britishismes » en anglais américain (et vice versa) - ESL Expertise said,

    September 2, 2013 @ 10:18 am

    [...] va à l’encontre des sempiternels articles sur l’américanisation de l’anglais britannique (bien qu’en réalité, la plupart des termes que l’on considère comme des américanismes ne soie…), qui suscitent généralement de nombreux commentaires, notamment de la part des Britanniques, qui [...]

  72. “Britanismos” en inglés americano (y viceversa) - ESL Expertise said,

    September 2, 2013 @ 10:21 am

    [...] adición a los artículos habituales sobre americanismos “invasores” del inglés británico (muchos supuestos americanismos en realidad no son de origen estadounidense). En general, estos artículos atraen montones y montones de comentarios, sobre todo de los [...]

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