The British are coming!

Oct 18, 2012 | Language

Following on from last week’s post on the constant stream of Americanisms creeping in to UK speech, it seems we are turning the tables and exporting some of our particularly British words.

The BBC published a great article earlier this month on how some of our strange sayings are now on the lips of our American cousins, making me wonder if we are creating a generation of Dick Van Dykes… Cor Blimey Guvnor, it’s Mary Poppins!

The use of ginger, for example, as in the colour of the Weasleys’ hair, has been increasing steadily in America over the last century, but took a dramatic leap with the publication of the Harry Potter books.

Americans might study the expiration date to decide whether or not to eat the yoghurt (or yohgurt, as they would say) from the back of the fridge, but use the British phrase sell-by date in the figurative sense, as in That idea is well past it’s sell by date.

Other words sneaking in on “cat’s feet” are chat up, snog (though still not popular, which is a shame – that’s a great word, isn’t it, instantly conjuring up the back of bike sheds?) and twee. And the one that surprised me metrosexual – I thought that started in the US, but no, one of ours. So, sorry about that one America!

What words would you like to export across the Atlantic?

image: © Anthony Dodd | (again!)