The British Dislike ‘Americanisms,’ But Unfazed Yankees Could Care Less

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Full disclosure straight off: your writer is a Brit, but that doesn’t mean he can’t poke fun at both sides in this apparent debate.

A recent article on the BBC (full disclosure again! This writer worked for the BBC for many years) noted how Americanisms in the English language aren’t a good thing. As the author of the piece, writer Matthew Engel, noted, “ugly and pointless new usages appear in the media and drift into everyday conversation.”

(LIST: Top 10 British Invasions)

The other main point to his argument (which seems to have been lost amid the online fury) is how the British have hated having AmericansĀ ruining the English language for centuries. It is, after all, the Queen’s English.

Here are some of Engel’s examples (in his own words), if you’re wondering what he’s referring to. (There are many more in the BBC article.)

  • Faze, as in “it doesn’t faze me”
  • Hospitalize, which really is a vile word
  • Wrench for spanner
  • Elevator for lift

Presumably, the powers that be at the BBC worked out that they were onto a good thing (Engel’s article was their most popular piece of the week), so the Beeb threw the conversation open to the readership. And now a follow-up article has appeared, with 50 of the most noted examples, some of which were submitted by Canadians and even Americans. Oh and indeed boy.

Here’s a short selection of Americanisms that haven’t gone down well with your friends in the U.K. Why not use NewsFeed’s comments box to either agree or disagree? Or in other words: step up to the plate.

Touch base” – it makes me cringe no end. Chris, UK

Does nobody celebrate a birthday anymore, must we all “turn” 12 or 21 or 40? Even the Duke of Edinburgh was universally described as “turning” 90 last month. When did this begin? I quite like the phrase in itself, but it seems to have obliterated all other ways of speaking about birthdays. Michael McAndrew, Swindon

Reach out to” when the correct word is “ask”. For example: “I will reach out to Kevin and let you know if that timing is convenient”. Reach out? Is Kevin stuck in quicksand? Is he teetering on the edge of a cliff? Can’t we just ask him? Nerina, London

I could care less” instead of “I couldn’t care less” has to be the worst. Opposite meaning of what they’re trying to say. Jonathan, Birmingham

Check out the full list of reader complaints at the BBC.

Glen Levy is an Executive Producer at TIME. Find him on Twitter at @glenjl. You can also continue the discussion on TIMEā€™s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.

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