American, English

American, English

Something I have often experienced with a few people in the UK is that they can become a bit tetchy when it comes to the “Americanisation” of the English language. Yes Americans believe it or not, it really does bother some people that much. I may be simplifying the problem, but I think according to them troubled Brits, your exportation of TV, music and movies (or films in British) to us quaint folk is the reason that we do not speak like we belong in a Shakespeare play anymore. Hang your heads in shame, “more of your conversation would infect my brain.” (A bit of Will for you there).

Well for the sake of Anglo-English relations, I thought I should weigh in with my own experiences while in the US. Here are my results;

The Americanisation of Road Safety

Obviously driving is an important thing to get right. Just when I panic and shout “oh my God, we are on the wrong side of the road, I’m going to crash and die!,” I must remember that it is ok, they have chosen to drive on this side. As long as your steering wheel is not closer to the pavement than the road then I am ok.

But wait, an important lingo thing to get right here is what is meant by the words ‘pavement’ and ‘road.’ It seems that these words do not necessarily mean the same thing to our two countries, as I found out when Todd told me “to just drive along the pavement until you get to the traffic lights.” Yikes, I thought, you seem to be instructing me to cause carnage in your own neighbourhood. Well to my relief he actually he wasn’t. To him a ‘pavement’ is the ‘road,’ whereas I understood a ‘pavement’ to be what he calls a ‘sidewalk.’ I don’t think the word ‘road’ has become obsolete though.

Another word issue arose when I was asked to go and fill up the vehicle with “gas.” I believe this to be a sophisticated level of mind games by the Americans here, for in fact it is the liquid which we pour into our cars (sorry, automobiles) which they call ‘gas.’ Try to work that one out.

The Americanisation of Cuisine

Misunderstandings when it comes to food is a constant hazard where I must remain vigilant. I say this because today I was offered biscuits and gravy. Apparently this is a real American treat. However to my british mind this does not sound like a treat, it sounds pretty disgusting, and all my imagination can conjure is an image of digestives covered in bisto.

For info, digestives are a sweet-meal biscuit, I do not believe they aid digestion any more than any other normal cookie, but I stand to be corrected. While Bisto is a type of gravy to have with meat and vegetables, it is very tasty, but does not belong on biscuits or cookies. The problem for me here is us British people think a biscuit is what an American would call a cookie and a cookie in the UK is called….well that is still called a cookie too. In truth I really do not know how we Brits differentiate between a biscuit and a cookie. If anybody does know please feel free to fill me in. The American biscuit that was offered to me was actually made with soft dough and the gravy is a white flour gravy.

I have also found that croissants in the local supermarket do not come served as I have been used to. Over here they can be found in the refrigerator section prepared with sausage, egg and cheese awaiting to be heated and served. To be honest I think it is best we do not tell the French about this, I don’t think we want them to feel any distain for the US.


nom nom nom

Shopping for vegetables also require some tricky word substitutions to avoid blank looks and confused stares;

  • Coriander is called cilantro, this sounds quite agreeable.
  • A courgette is called a zucchini, this perhaps sounds preferable.
  • An aubergine however is called an eggplant, this sounds repulsive.

So Should People Worry About Americanisation?

Well in my opinion the short answer for this is no. This is because life is too short, and you can do nothing about it anyway, even if you do care. But it can be a source of great amusement, to compare our differences. So that is that.


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