Monday, July 25, 2011

Those Bl**dy Americans!

Ha! Bet that title caught your eye!

There's been a lot of uproar recently over an article on the BBC website blaming Americans for sullying Brit-speak with outrageous words like 'elevator' (instead of 'lift') and 'apartment' (instead of 'flat').

Horror of horrors! Language purists, take cover!

Having taught for a couple years in a British comprehensive school, though, I think Brits should be more concerned with corruption from within. Um... the word 'chav', anyone? The wonderful gem that is 'innit'? Or how about the fact that my GCSE (high school) students struggled to even write two sentences without lapsing into text-speak?

So, yes: beware the foreign invasion. But perhaps worry about your own population first!

What are your most-hated slang words creeping into regular usage?

(Disclaimer: This post was written by a North American. Any opinions expressed are those of a North American who fully admits to using dastardly American words such as elevator and apartment. Oh yes, and I'm also a British citizen! *mwah ha ha!* )

98 comments:

  1. Gotten.

    A vile word.
    Try it in any of ms, eds, and I will throw my English toys out of the cot!

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  2. Uh-oh. I've fallen afoul of 'gotten'!

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  3. There actually aren't many words that I hate. Anything with a racial slur--but I don't hang out with people who use those, so I guess that doesn't count because they're not creeping into regular usage!

    Um, how about... heh. Even though I use it. But still... It's not a very positive word in some connotations, imo. Kind of like "oh, you think that? ha. I know differently." heh. (Well, SOME people use it that way anyway...)

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  4. 'Heh' is a good one! I also don't like 'meh'.

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  5. I'm so not a fan of the text speak. There are many days I wonder if my children know the correct way of writing out these simple words.

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  6. Haha. Corruption of the language indeed. You know, when I taught English in Poland it took me forever to figure out what some of the words in the silly Cambridge textbook meant. To me "pavement", for example, does not mean the narrow strip along side a road on which a person can walk and is not inhabited by cars. *sigh*

    But why complain about just the bl**dy yankees when the Aussies have their own lingo, too, eh? Or is it just because we don't officially adore the Queen?

    As for slang that bugs me, rather a lot of it, actually. So much so that I can't think of a concrete example at this moment. I'll get back to you.

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  7. And I say "gotten" all the time.

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  8. The thing that drives me nuts is 'could of' instead of 'could have', and I don't think that's anyone's fault but the English :)

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  9. Invite when it should be invitation. That really gets me annoyed.

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  10. I don't hear much slang so I don't know what's "popular" right now. Mostly I writhe when I hear our beautiful language butchered with double negatives or words like ask mispronounced as in: ax. He axed me a question.

    And in songs I hear "chew" a lot instead of you. "I need chew, like the flower needs the rain. You know I need chew..."

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  11. I'm with you, Phillipa. Gotten - yuck.

    And Talli, we DO worry about our own. But at least they're making a travesty of their OWN language. Put your fingers in your ears for a minute.

    I hate it when North Americans think English is - er - well - American. It's a hybrid language in itself, sure, but it's OUR hybrid language which we exported. Oh - and for any English readers who might complain about "fall", as in autumn, we started it. Check with a historian.

    OK, Talli, you can take your fingers out now!

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  12. Oh, people in my area use "ain't" and "I seen" so much that my teeth are worn down from grinding. My hub was English and so I picked up one or two terms from him, which annoyed my friends as they thought I was being pretentious. Most of the time I have far more to worry about than language idiosyncrasies :)

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  13. Hm...I think I will take the *elevator* to my *apartment* today! ;)

    I think Americans (I'm not familiar enough with the slang of other countries to know if we're not the only ones who do this) have a bad habit of using generalization words to mean "stupid." Such as: gay, pussy, and retarded. That's a slang habit I really wish would go away.

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  14. Can't really say that slang bothers me, in fact, I tend to love hearing it. My writing partner in crime is British and I'm always asking him to clarify slang... or giving him crap about spelling stuff wrong (like favorite. XD)

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  15. yep title 'hooked' me :-)

    As for slang, i'd write you a list if is wasn't after midnight.

    However i get annoyed when people say FYI as "F" "Y" "I" rather than saying "For your information" out loud. Ok i GET it if you are actually writing it down, but saying it out loud....grrr..

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  16. splitting hairs or infinitives - 'to even write' - tut tut Talli!

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  17. Not so much use of slang, but more specific misuse of the language:

    "Different than" rather than "different from"

    - 'Than' is used in quantitive comparisons: larger than, greener than, more than.
    'Different' isn't quantitive.

    "I could care less" rather than "I couldn't care less"

    - This annoys me so much. Why don't people just think about what it is that they're saying?
    If you COULD care less, then that means that you care.
    "I couldn't care less" is expressing the fact that you don't care at all, so you COULDN'T care any less than not at all.

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  18. Is it wrong of me to use a British accent to class up my act when I feel the need? (I'm not British, but I long to be....)

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  19. Ray, ha! I admit, I'm the worst when it comes to splitting infinitives...

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  20. I shudder when people, I'm afraid to say Americans especially talk about 'American English' and 'British English'.

    I'll concede that the version of the language the Americans use is so much different to ours, that it deserves it's own label, and 'American English' is as good a label as any.

    But what they're comparing it to isn't 'British English', it's just 'English' - It's the original, we started it, no qualification necessary.

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  21. Slang doesn't bother me so much, text speak on the other hand grates on my nerves.

    I think more so because it feels like it's mangling the English language. I love words, I prefer someone took the time to spell. (Hugs)Indigo

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  22. When people (US) use the word further to describe a concrete distance, not a metaphorical one.

    Love reading people's peeves!

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  23. Text speak annoys me. Soon kids won't know how to spell a full word.

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  24. Oh well, to each his own meaning. I have enough to worry about when the blackbirds hog all the seeds at the bird feeder. I suppose that really grates on the ears of purism.
    Manzanita@Wannabuyaduck

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  25. I keep waiting for someone clever to put out a dictionary of text-speak. It's really become its own language. When I see words like "wat (what)" or "IDK" in regular letters or emails, I want to scream.

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  26. In college my friends and I went through a phase where we shortened words. Perfect became perf. "I love this" became just love. Pocket became pock. Etc. It was ridic (ulous).

    PS) I don't have a lift in my flat. I don't know...that sounds a little strange! I don't have an elevator in my apartment. Much better!!! Heehee ;)

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  27. I hate yous. Hubby says it and it drives me nuts!

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  28. I love slang, personally. It's the seasoning of language! One thing that does irritate me here in the South is that some folks have a tendency to leave out the infinitive and just go for the verb, as in "Needs fixed" instead of "Needs TO BE fixed."

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  29. Agree about the 'could care less' rather than the CORRECT 'couldn't care less'. That really irritates me.

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  30. I wish folks wouldn't shorten everything or resort to letters. Not going to even mention the one about making noises of merriment so they can be heard - I don't know how else one would. Or the one that suggests the speaker doesn't wish to hear any more on a given and sensitive topic. Yikes. However, I just read Anne Lamott's Rosie and I quite like that the little girl says 'durr'.

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  31. I dislike "prolly" but I guess that's another example of text-speak.

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  32. Leslie, I forgot to cover my ears! :)

    Such great responses - thank you, everyone!

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  33. Sorry - I meant LESLEY!

    I even double-checked the spelling of your name, and I *still* got it wrong!

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  34. The text speaking bothers me because half the time, I don't even know what it means! Also, I don't like hearing, What ever!

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  35. ...wait, what? I mean, how can anyone else be responsible for what other people use as words? Like, are american FORCING brits to say elevator?
    so weird...

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  36. Great post- I loved reading the comments. Thanks!

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  37. bootylicious. And perhaps jelly--as in "I don't think you're ready for this jelly."

    Hey! Those both came from the same place, and I actually like Beyonce very much... I'm just saying. Ew. :D
    <3

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  38. Anything Southern! LOL
    I'm sure they hate the whole boot/trunk thing, too. Or theatre/theater.

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  39. Ha ha, this title alone did catch my attention! :D This issue about language always cracks me up, I don't understand why some make such a fuss of it.

    I got a laugh out of the comments too, and I second the hatred of "could of" instead of "could have."

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  40. I much prefer "elevator" and "apartment" -- they are very distinctive words as opposed to the Brit versions.

    Certain modern slang (yes, I dislike "meh" as well) and textspeak are very annoying. If I have to look it up on Google because it's not common usage or self-explanatory then I don't think it's particularly good. I've gotten used to "lol" or ":)". Gosh, some of these things aren't even really words.


    Lee
    Tossing It Out

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  41. It depends upon the format. What I use or hear (I have a 16 year old) in casual discussions usually don't bother me. In a professional piece of writing or a book, they all jump out and attack me. There is a place and time of slang.

    I do cringe when I hear things like, 'he ain't got no business coming down on me'.

    I use gotten. I also use heh, eh, meh, and gah, but only when chatting with friends online.

    I find differences between English speaking cultures fascinating, not irritating.

    Personally, I prefer my biscuits with gravy or with butter and jelly and love chocolate chip cookies. I want fries with my burger or fish and a bag of chips with my sandwich. I prefer to lift my hand to wave goodbye as the elevator doors close. Just because I light torches outside around my patio and use a flashlight to find the matches doesn't mean it's wrong word usage. It’s American English and I live in America. Btw, those “Damn Yanks” won the War Between the States, aka The Civil War, and twice with our beloved Brits, so I think it allows us the right to our form of English, just sayin’, lololol!

    You love me anyway, Talli!

    Sia McKye's Thoughts...OVER COFFEE

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  42. I believe my Lakota Sioux ancesters said something similar to the title of your post about the Americans moving into their land. But it was their forked tongues that bothered them most!

    Have a great new week, Roland

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  43. I saw this article!! LOL!

    Most (all?) library catalogues are american based and created so I get most confused with "Checked out items". What does the phrase mean?!?!?!! Ahem.

    Take care
    x

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  44. On my writing network, it's not the British who have problems with my writing, it's the American. I used to get bashed over the knuckles for using 'Latinate' words instead of good old 'Anglo-Saxon' ones. I won't even mention my tendency to use tenses with with 't' on the end, like learnt, knelt, etc.

    I kinda had to modify my English to suit the market. I live betwixt, but write for those living between. :) Oy!

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  45. 'fun time' or 'fun day' makes me cross.
    Looking out the window instead of 'out of'
    'of' used as a verb
    using 'less' when 'fewer' is intended, as in the supermarket where customers are invited to choose the queue if they have 'less than 5 articles'
    I could go on but I won't - you will have realised what a pedant I am by now;-)
    oh, and I don't like 'gotten' either - it's fine when used by Americans - it's their/your word but we aren't Americans!

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  46. I love regional and cultural slang! I think in writing it helps to ground me in the setting or the character. On the other hand, some slang drives me batty - like for instance. And my students use the text speak too!

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  47. You couldn't even imagine how many words are borrowed from English in Russian. Particularly today. Although, in the past, a vast amount of words were borrowed from French. People use these words to this day.

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  48. I hate the word innit, and worst still I can't stop myself saying it! I'm considering electric shock therapy.

    Ellie Garratt

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  49. MANY English words (theirs and ours) started as slang. The one I hate the most is "dude!" Not the classic meaning, but the way it is used today. Dude...
    My new favorite slang word is "embiggen." As "embiggen for enhanced viewing."

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  50. Hi Talli .. it's the dumbing down I hate .. let alone all the words you mention ..

    I was listening to Farming Today at the weekend .. and they talked about a bowl and a hammer ... good heavens above .. can't the BBC speak proper English and educate us too .. pestle and mortar really aren't too tricky words - we use them for food, and for science, and for drugs .. so Farmers have to use a ??? hammer and a bowl???

    I'll be banging my kettle drum soon .. oh yes now - I've got your book?! here at my home .. yay .. to be read anon.

    Cheers for now .. Hilary

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  51. I get annoyed when textspeak is used as normal language.

    "LOL!"

    (For god's sake, just laugh.)

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  52. I have a hard time with this. There are lots of words I could hate, but at the same time I try to recognize that language evolves. It's very difficult! Also, it's pretty impossible to control a language - my history prof said that's what killed Latin. Too many academics insisted it remain exactly the same and so people just used their own spin offs of the language, like Italian. :)

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  53. I love both sides of the pond so will be like Switzerland and remain neutral. I will add that the phrase ''I could care less' does get under my skin.

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  54. I adore 'innit'! erm... but probably because it is a part of the Taffy slang I'm trying to master. The stuff that drives me nuts is all that initial crap. I use *snort* instead of LOL because I am ANNOYED by LOL. (though I concede to an occasional ROFL or WTF). Mostly though, I want real words... slang words, okay... substitutes (4 instead of for, 2 instead of too)--no thanks.

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  55. "Like" bothers me. I know I say it, but some people use it so many times per sentence it seriously gets on the nerves . . . although, I suppose it exists already and isn't really creeping into regular usage. It's already overused. :P

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  56. "Safe" as in, "safe, innit."

    In fact, anything that preceeds "innit."

    Favourite Americanism: nom nom nom. Or just "nom."

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  57. I think what bugs me most is over use or laziness on the part of the speaker. I dislike LOL used in text or speech, because it's been used to death. But filler phrases bug me, too, such as "like," "you know," "and so on," "and whatnot." Some people can barely speak a sentence without a filler crutch. When they string a few of those sentences together, I want to shriek (or edit).

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  58. innit! What a great slurring of words!

    First there were the influx of gray squirrels to your fine country & I understand there are now more gray than native red squirrels. Here's an interesting article about the phenomenon:

    http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/sports/5795427.html

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  59. I was wondering what 'chav' meant. Thanks for the link.

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  60. Guesstimate drives me nuts.

    I notice folks in the US using flat instead of apartment. So, it goes both ways.

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  61. Ugh. We just moved to NZ and so many of the teenagers here use the word: "youse" instead of you. I detest it. I've forbidden my teenagers from ever bringing it into my house. (which means of course they LOVE to use it in every sentence and then laugh hysterically at my frustration)

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  62. I admit text-speak can drive me insane, sometimes, but I don't have any word in particular I despise.

    Although if Britishism decides to invade American English, I really wouldn't complain!

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  63. It's a conspiracy. We Americans have decided we can no longer tolerate Brits always sounding more intelligent than we are!

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  64. I don't know "Elevators" do freak me out. Who actually has their hand on the brake? :)
    Jules @ Trying To Get Over The Rainbow

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  65. Hi Talli! Thank you so much for popping into my site while I was away. Appreciate it.

    In our global society how can we possibly avoid cross-cultural drift when it comes to language? Does every country need a Language Assembly like France where they police the 'creep' of such dastardly foreign words/phrases like 'le weekend' infiltrating their pure Gallic-speak.

    I just love slang, but hey, I'm an Aussie. Later, mate.

    Denise<3

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  66. I can't think of much slang that I think annoy me. I guess when my kiddo says for reelz? that gets me.

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  67. I can't think of much slang that I think annoy me. I guess when my kiddo says for reelz? that gets me.

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  68. Maybe the word "cuz" instead of because...

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  69. I'm with Alexandra on derogatory terms used to mean "stupid". Nother bothers me, too. As in, "a whole nother issue".

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  70. LOL! Hmmm... there's probably a ton of American slang I hate. Brain growing sleepy at the moment though. How about 'nookie'? Don't like that one...

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  71. Too funny....

    How about swell.... not the expanding kind, but as in That's really swell (good, great, terrific)

    I'm not crazy about "Ain't" either.

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  72. French husband didn't like me saying, "that sucks" or kadunkadunk...

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  73. This cracks me up, but in a good way. We've come so far from the original language, all of us really. I love slang, it's fun. I'm with Sara M, as long as it isn't racial slurs then I don't have a problem with language differing from it's origins.

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  74. LOL
    Yes 'elevator' (instead of 'lift') but what about hoovering for vacuuming. We have a Henry and so as a joke was call it Henrying.

    'Basically' is used as an um word, which I find irritating, as people litter every sentence with the word. Also 'pressurized' (as in aerosol cans) instead of pressured! :O)

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  75. Agreed 'Innit' is irritating but then so is 'you know' at the end of every sentence. Awesome is the Americanism that makes me cringe and gotten is also up there at the top of the irritation list but elevator and apartment don't irritate in the same way. They're not words that I'd use but, like sidewalk and sneakers, I know what they mean.

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  76. Like Sarah, I find that 'should of', 'could of' and 'would of' grate.

    Oh dear, I've used 'gotten' too. And 'invite' to mean invitation. I'll try to clean up my act.

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  77. I think you said them all!! I'm not one that hates a lot of words but mine were named above that I found irritating!!

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  78. I use gotten in my historical but do not say it...or do I? I am English and really do not care who spells what how.

    Life is too short. So long as I can read and enjoy that is all I need in life.

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  79. "Dude!"

    This drives me insane. My kids use it all the time. And it's fine when they are amongst their friends. But, once in a while, they will slip and call me a dude.

    Uh..no...I'm NOT a dude! I'm MOM.

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  80. I fail to understand why Americans think they can write me. They can write *to* me, by all means, but how did that 'to' vanish from American English?

    I assume that everyone has seen David Mitchell's soapbox on 'I could care less' - very very funny. Here's the link, just in case you haven't seen it. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=om7O0MFkmpw

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  81. I hate 'in a moment's time," which is used on the radio a lot. In a moment will do! There are others but mind has gone blank as ever...

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  82. I love when I stumble about Britishism in manuscripts. "Tits up" is one I heard the other day...what does that even mean? And I still can't figure out if knickers are pants or underwear.

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  83. Christa,

    In England Knickers are female underwear and pants are male underwear. However, older people sometimes use the word pants to refer to female underwear. Also, in the North of England the word pants is often used to describe men's trousers.

    Simple :)

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  84. I actually think the English can't speak English, most of them anyway.

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  85. The over/innapropriate use of "Awesome". Everyone - and I mean everyone, uses that word everytime they speak in NZ. OK, maybe a tiny exaggeration there, but not much exaggeration. I simply don't think it's awesome when I say I don't want sugar in my coffee...maybe I am going mad?

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  86. Gotten used how? I mean, "I've gotten stuck in the elevator/lift before" is a perfectly legitimate sentence!

    Americanisms bug me way more than Britishisms (of course!). Things like "standing on line", "graduating college", "going forward", etc. Yuck yuck yuck!

    Give me carn't and innit anyday :-)

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  87. How about "funner"? Not a real word, but it's funner than lots of dictionary words. I never would have thought there'd be an uproar over "elevator" and "apartment"! That's funny.

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  88. Ever since that Charlie Sheen interview went viral "Winning!" has been used far too often in casual conversation. Not always ironically either.

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  89. "At the end of the day" has always annoyed me, although it's really more of a phrase than a word....
    By the way, if you wanna talk about British annoyance with Americans, I'd like to point to the Amanda Knox case. It's this ongoing trial deal in Italy which you may, or may not, have heard of.

    Every European article I have found on the situation has skewed heavily in favor of the notion that Ms. Knox is guilty, and yet here in the States, we're all perplexed why she's being locked up for life. The resentment for Americans that this incident has revealed really confuses me.

    I guess what I'm saying is this: set Amanda free!

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  90. You know, I like to think I'm pretty tolerant of most things, but there's one thing I think must be made clear. 'LOL' is not a word. It is not a verb. It is not an all purpose response to something funny! Augh!

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  91. I don't care for text talk although I am adding it to my latest book. My editor speaks text so he's helping me making it look good while being understandable too.

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  92. CONVERSATE

    AKS

    I DON'T GOT NO...

    SNITCH

    squee

    for shizzle (thanks to my suburban nephew)

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  93. I don't like abbreviated words or text talk. I don't understand why some people assume that all people can read them!

    There aren't many words I hate, except when someone says 'like' after each word!! Arrgggggh (is this a word?) LOL.

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  94. uh-oh, sorry Amie Kaufman, I just said LOL. Out of habit. LOL.

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  95. They like bug me too, though I like use them a lot more than I like realize, I'm sure. LIKE. That one's is weird. Why do we do it?

    I just read an article in the paper about the Utah 'accent'. We tend to drop our T's on words like kitten (KIH-un), mitten (MIH-un), credit (CRED-ih) - replacing it with a glottal stop. It bugs me, but I do it all the time!

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  96. LMAO! Oh, I loved this post. I am a North American living in London. And I loathe, I mean LOATHE, 'innit'. Talk about corruption of the language. And it sounds so ... uneducated. Not to mention annoying.

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  97. 'more better'. It makes my toes curl whenever I hear it. I think that chav language is more of a problem than any 'foreign' influence. I'm all for dialects and slang terminology, but when it stops being a regional of cultural quirk and affects the entire nation I get a little worried.

    At least I can be safe and stick with my Wenglish, tidy like :)

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Coffee and wine for all!