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  1. #1
    freezeframe is offline Key Member
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    Default Grey squirrels and cultural imperialism.

    I found this article very funny because it came across as a little... hysterical. I especially liked the part where the British should be worried about being on the receiving end of imperialism.

    No offense to the British readers of this forum, of course.

    Americanisms swamping English, so wake up and smell the coffee | Mail Online

    Actually, I know all about the get-go or, worse still, the git-go. It's an ugly Americanism, meaning 'from the start' or 'from the off'. It adds nothing to Britain's language but it's here now, like the grey squirrel, destined to drive out native species and ravage the linguistic ecosystem.




    And so, hi guys, hel-LO, wake up and smell the coffee. We need to distinguish between the normal give-and-take of linguistic development and being overrun - through our own negligence and ignorance - by rampant cultural imperialism.
    But it is time to fight back. The battle is almost uncertainly unwinnable but I am convinced there are millions of intelligent Britons out there who wince as often as I do every time they hear a witless Americanism introduced into British discourse.

  2. #2
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: Grey squirrels and cultural imperialism.

    You will come across people like this- generally, they're people who have had very strict rules about usage drummed into them in private schools and through class systems- like the people who get excited about people saying ketchup. You normally find them introducing a useful phrase that is coming into BrE as an ugly Americanism- a decade or so ago, they were prefacing dumbing down with a similar label.

    You missed the key quote:
    Old buffers like me have always complained about the process, and we have always been defeated.

    It shows their influence and impact. There were complants in the 1960s about the Beatles- they should have sung She loves you, yes, yes, yes to avoid ugly Americanisms. All countries have their fringes.

  3. #3
    freezeframe is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: Grey squirrels and cultural imperialism.

    What's wrong with ketchup?

    PS I just really really really liked the grey squirrel analogy. It made me laugh out loud at the library.

  4. #4
    konungursvia's Avatar
    konungursvia is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: Grey squirrels and cultural imperialism.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tdol View Post
    You will come across people like this- generally, they're people who have had very strict rules about usage drummed into them in private schools and through class systems- like the people who get excited about people saying ketchup. You normally find them introducing a useful phrase that is coming into BrE as an ugly Americanism- a decade or so ago, they were prefacing dumbing down with a similar label.

    You missed the key quote:

    It shows their influence and impact. There were complants in the 1960s about the Beatles- they should have sung She loves you, yes, yes, yes to avoid ugly Americanisms. All countries have their fringes.
    Another interesting point is that according to the late Anthony Burgess, (cf. Language Made Plain) many perceived Americanisms aren't American at all, just very old regionalisms that have died out in many places and then come back with a vengeance.

    The best example is "I guess" which is all over Chaucer, then disappears in England at the time of Spencer, and comes back in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries as something "foreign."

  5. #5
    freezeframe is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: Grey squirrels and cultural imperialism.

    Quote Originally Posted by konungursvia View Post
    Another interesting point is that according to the late Anthony Burgess, (cf. Language Made Plain) many perceived Americanisms aren't American at all, just very old regionalisms that have died out in many places and then come back with a vengeance.

    The best example is "I guess" which is all over Chaucer, then disappears in England at the time of Spencer, and comes back in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries as something "foreign."
    Some people go into comparable fits of hysteria about how English is taking over Russian. And it is true that in some areas (for example, computing and boring things like management) all terminology is simply English words with Russian endings. But, really, getting upset over sandwich entering Russian when the "authentic" Russian word is Butterbrot.

    Yummy!


  6. #6
    konungursvia's Avatar
    konungursvia is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: Grey squirrels and cultural imperialism.

    Quote Originally Posted by freezeframe View Post
    Some people go into comparable fits of hysteria about how English is taking over Russian. And it is true that in some areas (for example, computing and boring things like management) all terminology is simply English words with Russian endings. But, really, getting upset over sandwich entering Russian when the "authentic" Russian word is Butterbrot.

    Yummy!

    Looks pretty tasty. But Butterbrot sounds suspiciously Germanic to me. Russian imports lots of its words. Even Tovarech, comrade, is from the Turkish for "Trading Partner" if memory serves. Unless butter is "butter" and bread is "brot" in Russian too.

  7. #7
    freezeframe is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: Grey squirrels and cultural imperialism.

    Quote Originally Posted by konungursvia View Post
    Looks pretty tasty. But Butterbrot sounds suspiciously Germanic to me. Russian imports lots of its words. Even Tovarech, comrade, is from the Turkish for "Trading Partner" if memory serves. Unless butter is "butter" and bread is "brot" in Russian too.
    No, it's 100% German.

    I just had to look up "tovarisch" (there are similar words in other Slavic languages) and the dictionary does say it's Turkic. One version says it's from Chagatai, another that it's from Chuvash.

    There are many Turkic words in Russian but they sound so authentically Slavic....
    Last edited by freezeframe; 06-May-2011 at 03:20.

  8. #8
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: Grey squirrels and cultural imperialism.

    Quote Originally Posted by freezeframe View Post
    What's wrong with ketchup?

    PS I just really really really liked the grey squirrel analogy. It made me laugh out loud at the library.
    Some people despise the word and think we should say tomato sauce instead. You can find some more here: U and non-U English - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    I saw a red squirrel last year in the Lake District- the first I've seen in the wild for many years.

  9. #9
    thatone is offline Member
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    Default Re: Grey squirrels and cultural imperialism.

    We may start to get hysterical about Chinese words soon.

  10. #10
    konungursvia's Avatar
    konungursvia is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: Grey squirrels and cultural imperialism.

    Ketchup is a Cantonese word.

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