No offence intended to all our American friends!
I have never had a major problem with the fact that Americans, or anyone else for that matter, use different words for things like pavement, trousers, biscuits and mobile phones. No problem at all, just the urge to go into a stationery shop and ask for a rubber just to see the shocked expression on the sales assisstant's face. As a writer and reader as long as the right people use the right words that's fine.
I've also thought it a bit strange that the French are so opposed to foreign words slipping into their language. Some things simply don’t translate easily.
But in the last few weeks I have been increasingly annoyed that perfectly good English phrases have been replaced by Americanisms.
I've reluctantly got used to the fact that our police forces no longer have SOCO units (Scene of crime officers) they now have CSI (crime scene investigators ) but when I hear people talking about autopsies instead of post mortems I start to get annoyed. When will our coroners become medical examiners?
Yesterday a really terrible case was reported on the news. A cargo container was discovered at a port with a large number of illegal immigrants trapped inside. My heart goes out to the people whose lives must be so terrible they will risk travelling in such a way to find a better life but that is another issue. What made my hackles rise was the fact that to start with it was reported that one man had died and a murder investigation was underway. Then later in the report a spokesman from the police said a 'homicide' investigation was underway. Now I know the literal meaning of homicide is the killing of a human just as patricide is the killing of one's father, but since when have we had 'homicide investigations ' in the UK? I'm sure Morse and Jack Frost solved murders. And can you imagine Midsomer Homicides ever taking off?
It has long been the fact that England and the USA are two countries separated by the same language but do we really need to change OURS so that WE can understand it. Are we watching so much US TV now that we have to adopt the American way of speaking to be understood? It may be that as writers we have to use American terms if we want to be read in America but is it really necessary to have a Justice Department and a Supreme Court instead of our much longer established institutions?
I know language changes and have no problem with introducing new words, changing the way we use grammar. Most of what I read today, not only in books but in blogs and top notch newspapers, would never have got through the eleven plus I took. But I don’t see why we should adopt phrases when we have had perfectly good ones that everyone understands for a very, very long time.
What do you think?
Are there any Americanisms that drive you to distraction?
We would love to know.