Brit Declares War on American English

This article is from the archive of our partner .

What has the world come to when the BBC starts using American English? It's come to war, that's what. So thinks The Daily Mail's Matthew Engel, who's calling for a "war on words that snuck into our skedule." He was horrified to hear the BBC home affairs editor "[refer] to 'specialty shops,'" rather than "speciality shops." Why is it so important?

'Speciality' (with the i) is a lovely word, full of rolling syllables. His version is the kind of usage that comes out of the mid-Atlantic and needs to be dropped back there, from a great height.
Then comes the longer list of travesties inflicted by "cultural imperialism":

Other leading hates include 'snuck' as the past tense of 'sneak' and 'dove' as the past tense of 'dive; driver's license instead of driving licence; overly rather than over; autopsy for post-mortem; burglarized instead of burgled; filling out forms instead of filling them in; fries for chips; chips for crisps; and food to go as opposed to take away.

There is also period instead of full stop; and of course 'Hi, guys', guys in this case being of either sex. These last two usages are associated with Tony Blair, which seems to redouble the irritation factor.

Engel also mentions an Americanism that, though he may not realize it, has some Americans annoyed as well. The trend is "the verbalisation of nouns: incentivizing and all that rot." His other complaints may have fewer American backers, though. Engel wants absolutely no mention of "touch[ing] base" or "ludicrous baseball metaphors," leading him to call for "a blanket ban on references to baseball in British conversation unless the perpetrator can explain the infield fly rule." Signing off, he suggests "a more general solution: a growing understanding that Britain has a language of its own," and lists an email address to which readers may "continue to send [their]pet-hate Americanisms."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.