Thursday, July 21, 2011

Grammer Across the Pond

I was browsing around at Bayou Renaissance Man and followed a link to the BBC News. It seems we in the good old U.S. of A. have been invading England, strictly on the Q.T.  As a result of our stealthy infiltration the Limeys over at the BBC News compiled a short list of grievances: Americanisms: 50 of your most noted examples. Being a true diplomat at heart, I decided to see if I could get anything started with some commentary by a typical Mid-Westerner, namely Yours Truly, Mad Jack.

1. When people ask for something, I often hear: "Can I get a..." It infuriates me. It's not New York. It's not the 90s. You're not in Central Perk with the rest of the Friends. Really." Steve, Rossendale, Lancashire
That's 'Central Park' Steve, not 'Central Perk'. The phrase means ability or possibility, not permission. If I'm asking the question, "Can I get a load of stable dressing from someone like you?" I'm asking if you're able to deliver.
2. The next time someone tells you something is the "least worst option", tell them that their most best option is learning grammar. Mike Ayres, Bodmin, Cornwall
They're likely a graduate of a public school somewhere and have trouble expressing themselves. Either provide a grammatically correct alternative or get over yourself. Or both.
3. The phrase I've watched seep into the language (especially with broadcasters) is "two-time" and "three-time". Have the words double, triple etc, been totally lost? Grammatically it makes no sense, and is even worse when spoken. My pulse rises every time I hear or see it. Which is not healthy as it's almost every day now. Argh! D Rochelle, Bath
Yeah, like, for instance, two-time loser instead of, what, double loser? Then we're treated to your own brand of the King's English 'totally lost'. One can total a column of integers. The word you were fumbling for is 'completely', as in 'completely lost'.
4. Using 24/7 rather than "24 hours, 7 days a week" or even just plain "all day, every day". Simon Ball, Worcester
It comes from signage, which seeks to maximize information in the available space. Sure, we could say that you're uptight twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, but it's easier and faster to use twenty-four seven. We do it to piss you off - 24/7.
5. The one I can't stand is "deplane", meaning to disembark an aircraft, used in the phrase "you will be able to deplane momentarily". TykeIntheHague, Den Haag, Holland
Try saying 'disembark' to a plane load of angry fliers, and when half of them have a question mark over their heads and block the other half from getting off the plane, you get to deal with the air rage.
6. To "wait on" instead of "wait for" when you're not a waiter - once read a friend's comment about being in a station waiting on a train. For him, the train had yet to arrive - I would have thought rather that it had got stuck at the station with the friend on board. T Balinski, Raglan, New Zealand
Okay, I can agree with this one. I've never heard it, but I'll agree with it.
7. "It is what it is". Pity us. Michael Knapp, Chicago, US
Exactly. The speaker means he has no more to say on the subject, but rather than argue with an uptight, anal retentive Lime Juicer about the King's English, he looks you straight in the eye and delivers this end of conversation phrase. If you're hearing it a lot, you ought to be used to it by now.
8. Dare I even mention the fanny pack? Lisa, Red Deer, Canada
Go ahead and mention it. It's also called a butt pack. Again with the uptight people - just what the hell do Canadians sit on when they're watching Hockey? Their hands?
9. "Touch base" - it makes me cringe no end. Chris, UK
The meaning is clear and I see nothing wrong with it. It's a figure of speech in the U.S. of A.
10. Is "physicality" a real word? Curtis, US
Yes. It's a noun, defined as "the physical attributes of a person, especially when overdeveloped or overemphasized."
11. Transportation. What's wrong with transport? Greg Porter, Hercules, CA, US
Well, nothing really. The words aren't interchangeable, each having its own meaning. That said, 'transport' is a perfectly fine word.
12. The word I hate to hear is "leverage". Pronounced lev-er-ig rather than lee-ver -ig. It seems to pop up in all aspects of work. And its meaning seems to have changed to "value added". Gareth Wilkins, Leicester
Yes, I agree. It's a biz-weenie, corporate weasel-speak buzz word and the meaning changes with time, context and emphasis.  Don't trust anyone who uses that phrase, as more often then not they are trying to extend their contract for no good reason.
13. 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
It hasn't obliterated anything, Michael. You don't use it and neither do your friends.
14. I caught myself saying "shopping cart" instead of shopping trolley today and was thoroughly disgusted with myself. I've never lived nor been to the US either. Graham Nicholson, Glasgow
Unless you're in San Francisco, we here in the U.S. of A. don't have trolleys anymore. They went the way of the dodo bird, the passenger pigeon and the tea tax. Go down South and you'll hear your cart referred to as a buggy. Try that one on and see how it suits you.
15. What kind of word is "gotten"? It makes me shudder. Julie Marrs, Warrington
It's a past participle of 'get'. Keep shuddering, I'm not finished yet.
16. "I'm good" for "I'm well". That'll do for a start. Mike, Bridgend, Wales
Try saying "It's all good" and see where that gets you. While you're quite correct, I don't think you'll get far with your objection to the misuse.
17. "Bangs" for a fringe of the hair. Philip Hall, Nottingham
Meaning 'hair cut straight across the forehead' since 1878. Get used to it.
18. Take-out rather than takeaway! Simon Ball, Worcester
No one uses takeaway in the U.S. of A., mainly because to 'take away' implies theft.
19. I enjoy Americanisms. I suspect even some Americans use them in a tongue-in-cheek manner? "That statement was the height of ridiculosity". Bob, Edinburgh
You're quite correct and very astute, despite your residence - or maybe because of it.  In fact, I'd like to buy you a beer.  What's you favorite pub in Edinburgh?
20. "A half hour" instead of "half an hour". EJB, Devon
Both are correct, although I generally say 'half an hour' as in 'half an hour from now I'm going to have a manhattan.'
21. A "heads up". For example, as in a business meeting. Lets do a "heads up" on this issue. I have never been sure of the meaning. R Haworth, Marlborough
Any fool knows that you don't have a heads up, you give one or command one. For instance I might say, "Here's a heads up on the new inventory system that the boneheads in I.T. installed last week." Or if I were manuevering a large domestic animal through a group of pedestrians all of whom were gazing at the floor in search of loose change, I might say, "Heads up! Heads up!" so as to avoid running over them. If anyone is telling you it means something else, they're yanking your chain.
22. Train station. My teeth are on edge every time I hear it. Who started it? Have they been punished? Chris Capewell, Queens Park, London
What do you mean, who started it? We started it if you didn't, and we finished it. It's a train station, ace. Not a ballet class or a boiler factory - train station. Get it?
23. To put a list into alphabetical order is to "alphabetize it" - horrid! Chris Fackrell, York
And just what else is it? Eighty-sixed? Get a life.
24. People that say "my bad" after a mistake. I don't know how anything could be as annoying or lazy as that. Simon Williamson, Lymington, Hampshire
They also say things like, "Oh, this is so my bad." and "It's all good." The real stumbling block for me was when I head one sweet young thing explain that "I am so not trying to be difficult." I had to think that one through a few times before I understood it. Bring back nasty tempered old English teachers and corporal punishment.
25. "Normalcy" instead of "normality" really irritates me. Tom Gabbutt, Huddersfield
It refers to the condition of being normal and it began around 1860. It's time you got over it.
26. As an expat living in New Orleans, it is a very long list but "burglarize" is currently the word that I most dislike. Simon, New Orleans
The usage goes back to 1875, and if that's the only issue you have in New Orleans you're in great shape. Stop bitching about stuff and have a hurricane.
27. "Oftentimes" just makes me shiver with annoyance. Fortunately I've not noticed it over here yet. John, London
You will. Just give it time.
28. Eaterie. To use a prevalent phrase, oh my gaad! Alastair, Maidstone (now in Athens, Ohio)
Slang for a restaurant or chophouse. An eaterie on wheels is a roach coach. I fail to see just why this would bother you, as the meaning is clear to everyone else.
29. I'm a Brit living in New York. The one that always gets me is the American need to use the word bi-weekly when fortnightly would suffice just fine. Ami Grewal, New York
You are? You have my sympathies. My cousin lives in New York - maybe you know her, 88? No matter. Look Sir Limey, no one in New York knows what a fortnight is, let alone what fortnightly might be. By contrast, everyone knows the length of a week, hence bi-weekly is easy to figure out.
30. I hate "alternate" for "alternative". I don't like this as they are two distinct words, both have distinct meanings and it's useful to have both. Using alternate for alternative deprives us of a word. Catherine, London
Yeah, I don't like it either. Just correct them and move on; they're ignorant.
31. "Hike" a price. Does that mean people who do that are hikers? No, hikers are ramblers! M Holloway, Accrington
No, it means people who do that are minimum wage slaves, sharp as a marble and every bit as honest and compassionate as the average U.S. politician.
32. Going forward? If I do I shall collide with my keyboard. Ric Allen, Matlock
So go sideways instead. It sounds like you're headed in that direction anyway.
33. I hate the word "deliverable". Used by management consultants for something that they will "deliver" instead of a report. Joseph Wall, Newark-on-Trent, Nottinghamshire
Ask them just what it is they're going to deliver and when. Meanwhile I strongly suggest you remember the scum sucking contractor's (management consultants) credo: If you're not a part of the solution, there's good money to be made in prolonging the problem.
34. The most annoying Americanism is "a million and a half" when it is clearly one and a half million! A million and a half is 1,000,000.5 where one and a half million is 1,500,000. Gordon Brown, Coventry
Still more bread than you're ever going to see, Gordo. Hey, it's his money, he can talk about it any way he wants.
35. "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
You nailed it. Last time some yo-yo told me he'd reach out to someone the whole thing was a train wreck and he turned out to be a real jack wagon.  Little wonder, as the yo-yo was in HR and was trying to move up the corporate ladder.
36. Surely the most irritating is: "You do the Math." Math? It's MATHS. Michael Zealey, London
It isn't. It's 'math'. As in, 'You do the fuckin' math, you think you're so smart.'
37. I hate the fact I now have to order a "regular Americano". What ever happened to a medium sized coffee? Marcus Edwards, Hurst Green
Blame the butterfly boys in marketing. No one can get a medium size anything anymore - it's all lage, extra large, grande, or gut buster. You're showing your age, Hurst.
38. My worst horror is expiration, as in "expiration date". Whatever happened to expiry? Christina Vakomies, London
We don't have expiry. It isn't over here, so fuhgedaboutit.
39. My favourite one was where Americans claimed their family were "Scotch-Irish". This of course it totally inaccurate, as even if it were possible, it would be "Scots" not "Scotch", which as I pointed out is a drink. James, Somerset
I think this is likely a Freudian deal. We like to drink over in the U.S. of A. In fact if it weren't for the absolutely heaven sent ale, beer, liquor and other delectable potables we get from you folks across the pond, we'd likely not be on speaking terms. But for me, I figure that any civilization that can invent Samuel Smith's Nut Brown Ale has got to be worlds ahead of whom ever is in second place.  I'm Scotch-Limey, by the way.
40. I am increasingly hearing the phrase "that'll learn you" - when the English (and more correct) version was always "that'll teach you". What a ridiculous phrase! Tabitha, London
It isn't. It comes from Mark Twain's Tom Sawyer, spoken by Tom when he trounces another boy.
41. I really hate the phrase: "Where's it at?" This is not more efficient or informative than "where is it?" It just sounds grotesque and is immensely irritating. Adam, London
Yep. It's a Southern expression and should be stricken.
42. Period instead of full stop. Stuart Oliver, Sunderland
What possible difference can you see here? The chance of misuse is slim to none full stop
43. My pet hate is "winningest", used in the context "Michael Schumacher is the winningest driver of all time". I can feel the rage rising even using it here. Gayle, Nottingham
Okay, in defense I can only say that many sports announcers are retired players who were not hired for their communication abilities or their expertise in English grammar.
44. My brother now uses the term "season" for a TV series. Hideous. D Henderson, Edinburgh
Your brother is right. TV series are filmed in seasons, in the US anyway. But then we don't have public telly.
45. Having an "issue" instead of a "problem". John, Leicester
I don't like it either. I vividly remember one co-worker who was an expert on politically correct speech as well as being a journeyman in corporate weasel speak. Oftentimes I would request that she repeat herself, speaking slowly, so that I could translate as she spoke.  Even then I'd get it wrong half the time.
46. I hear more and more people pronouncing the letter Z as "zee". Not happy about it! Ross, London
That's how you say it, ace. Zee. As in Zebra, zeal and zero.
47. To "medal" instead of to win a medal. Sets my teeth on edge with a vengeance. Helen, Martock, Somerset
I've never head it. Good luck with your grill.
48. "I got it for free" is a pet hate. You got it "free" not "for free". You don't get something cheap and say you got it "for cheap" do you? Mark Jones, Plymouth
Yes, for free. That is to say that I didn't have to pay for it - it was free. I got it for free. See?
49. "Turn that off already". Oh dear. Darren, Munich
It's actually, "Will you please get up off your lazy ass and turn that damned thing off already!" I agree with you, by the way. Incomplete statements are a sign of intellectual laziness, and therefore something to be avoided.
50. "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
I correct this one all the time. These idiots aren't paying attention to their writing or what they're trying to say, and as a result the message is lost over their own ignorance. But there you have it, none the less.

My own personal vendetta is the phrase 'exact same', which is used to mean 'exactly the same' or, more correctly, 'identical'.  My second place vendetta is the non-word irregardless [read regardless].  Ignorant slobs.


Older School said...

Wow, that's a lengthy list, MJ. I am irked by some of our own Americanisms as well.
We 'upped' his pay. Even supposedly well educated people use this word instead of raised or increased. WTH?
The one thing that always grinds my gears is the past tense of 'drag.' It is NOT 'drug.' 'Drug' is a pharmaceutical. It is drag, dragged or dragging. Present, past and future tense.
Oy! Sadly, we could go on all day.

flask said...

thank you for this; someone had to say it and i didn't have the energy.

i can see why the british would be horrified by "fanny pack", but i do not believe "fanny" has the same meaning in canada so i have no idea what that person is on about.

Mad Jack said...

I remember once at a poker game some clown suggested that we raise the ante, "Let's up the ante a little and make this game interesting." The dealer regarded him coldly for a moment and said, "Would you like to raise the ante?" He was the only one at the table that didn't get it.

I don't know about Canadian fannies, Flask. I'm strictly an American fanny man, myself. :) Nice to hear from you, by the way.

Beat And Release said...

Wow! You are the exact same as a smart-alecky curmudgeon full stop :)

Mad Jack said...

I read this comment, managed to put it out my mind, then somehow stumbled across it again. It's actually painful...

I hope you spill your morning beer.

Beat And Release said...

HA! hehehe

Older School said...

Play nice, boys.

Mad Jack said...

He started it.

Mad Jack said...
This comment has been removed by the author.