Saturday, March 05, 2011

In defence of Americanisms.

USA_Jan_2009_01192009ASL_2886I'm occasionally accused of using too many 'Americanisms' in conversation and in my writing, but having grown up in rural Suffolk between two huge cold war USAF bases, with American servicemen's  families as neighbours, and having done work experience on USAF Woodbridge as a teen, and considering that I worked as the only employee of an American, and that I also worked on USAF Lakenheath I 'think' the occasional Americanism might be excusable.

Although 'explanatory' might be a better word to use than 'excusable', because I don't feel I need an excuse to talk however I wish to.  The English language (and all language) is a living, breathing, snarling and ever developing beast, and anyone who believes that we should speak 'the Queens English' is grossly confused about the way sentient beings communicate.

Language isn't something that should be placed in a vault under lock and key for its own preservation, the way we communicate is as much a part of social evolution as fashion and trends in beliefs.

I won't labour the point (because wiser men than I have written great books on the subject) but there is no English language.  There's certainly no English language that we can claim was born in, and belongs to this soggy little island we call the UK.  The words and phrases we use were started out German/ Scandinavian then got mixed up with French and Norman (yes they're two different things) and then nicked bits and bobs from almost all other European languages.  So why is it so frowned upon for a Englishman to use American words?  The 'foreign' words that we have assimilated into the English language are a part of the reason that English is so damn fun to write with!

In conclusion surely Americanisms (along with slang, hyperbole and colloquialisms) are irrelevant as long as we're understood ?

P.S Accents are another matter entirely (I know), but if you'd like to hear a proper old Suffolk accent then watch this short video my dad posted on YouTube; the man you can hear speaking has one of the best examples of a rural Suffolk accent that I've ever heard!  Can you tell what he's saying?  Suggestions in the comments box please!

This blog post was partly inspired by a Twitter chat I had with Talli Roland, go and buy her brilliant book right away!  That's an order!