Are Americanisms Killing the English Language? No, not Really.

The first part of the title of this post is the title of an article I came across yesterday on the Culture of the BBC website. I thought it would be interesting, and wondered in what way they might be killing the English language. I was quite disappointed then, to read it and find out, as I’d expected, they’re not killing it at all.

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Calling a Nazi a Nazi

Following the violence (from armed Nazis, and the one side they represent) in Charlottesville, some people have suggested that the perpetrators only acted like brutal, thuggish Nazis, because people had been calling them brutal, thuggish Nazis for so long. Of course they’re going to act like Nazis if you keep calling them Nazis! Obviously it’s an attempt to take the blame away from the actual Nazis committing the violence. It’s an attempt to say, Look, these are just troubled young men not happy with the way they’re country’s going. But they’ve been demonized by SJWs, and that’s made them lash out in frustration! What do you expect when you call someone a Nazi!

There a couple of assumptions being made here. The first is that if you label someone with a negative name often enough, they’ll become what you call them. And that seems logical enough. Imagine how angry it would make you to unfairly labelled as something as terrible as a Nazi!? Except, that only really works when the label is applied unfairly, doesn’t it? So let’s take a moment to have a look at some of the people being called Nazis:

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Happy Fourth of July!

Happy Fourth of July to all of my American readers (about 50% of all my lovely readers)! I hope you’re enjoying celebrating your independence, and I certainly hope that you appreciate that I’m publishing a second article today just for you. You see, I’ve got into a habit of writing articles in the evening (it’s currently 8PM GMT summertime), but scheduling them to be published the following morning, so I don’t have the pressure of having to finish it quickly that evening. That’s why I published an article about Wimbledon on the second day of the tournament. But I thought I couldn’t possibly publish an article about the Fourth of July on the fifth, so here we are.

I originally thought about writing about some uniquely American words, or American English more generally, but I’ve already written about that, and there’s not much to be said there that you don’t already know about. But then at some point this afternoon, I was struck by a thought: why do Americans call it the Fourth of July, when normally they use the other format to refer to dates? Why not July Fourth?

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Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving to all my American readers! The commemoration of the first Thanksgiving feast between the Wampanoag tribe and the Mayflower pilgrims is obviously an integral part of American culture. And yet, as it’s not celebrated anywhere in Europe, I was always curious about the celebration whenever I was watching an episode of a TV episode set on the holiday. What are they celebrating? Why is it so close to Christmas? Won’t they get sick of having two big turkey dinners in such close proximity?

As I got older and more worldly, I gathered more information and began to understand the origins of the holiday. I began to understand why Americans refer to The Holidays, plural, and I no longer think Thanksgiving is too close to Christmas. It’s actually a nice way to break up the monotony of Autumn/Winter. Though the commemoration of a peaceful feast between pilgrims and Native Americans always seemed strangely melancholy to me, given how things turned out.

Interestingly enough, that wasn’t actually the first Thanksgiving. Continue reading

American Life: Appalachian English

It seems appropriate today to cast my eye on the United States, but not in the way you might expect. You’ve probably heard and read enough about that already, so I just want to share this video about the way the natives of the Appalachian Mountains in the eastern United States speak English. It’s delightful to hear their accents and very specific vocabulary. It sounds quite unique, though I think I definitely detect something of the original Scottish and Irish settlers. I think there’s definitely a link between the fact that they call a bag a poke, and in Irish the word for pocket is póca. I’m not surprised that their vocabulary and accent wouldn’t change much over time, being so isolated.

These are the type of people who might be stereotyped as hillbillies, but they all seem like nice folk. Hard to understand at times, but nice. I don’t think there’s much point to this really, just to show what English can be, and how diverse, culturally and linguistically, America can be.