Potaito, potahto

Oct 9, 2012 | Language

Perhaps one of the less known services that First Edition Translations provides is that of Americanisation, and there’s more to Americanising a text than taking the ‘u’ out of ‘colour’ and moving the dates around. There are many words common to the English language but which have very different meanings from one side of the pond to the other and it is vital when preparing a document for another English-speaking country that the cultural references, grammar, spelling and vocabulary are correct for that country.

But what about those American words that keep sneaking in and getting their feet under the table? It’s been going on for centuries and people get very, very upset about it. Even in my own friendly, inclusive little home we have a ‘no Americanisms’ rule – so no, you don’t put your rubbish in the garbage, you put it in the bin!

Way back in 1832, the poet Coleridge declared the newly imported word talented to be “barbarous”. Now, that does seem a little extreme, and in fact Prime Minister William Gladstone was guilty of using it just a few years later, but it gets people riled. Even the term Americanism is an Americanism, coined by J Witherspoon in the Pennsylvania Journal in 1781.

So what Americanisms do you hate the most? Going to the movies instead of to a film (or to the pictures as I used to say way back in the dark old days…)? Twenny four/seven? Can I get a… ’ (I’ve been guilty of that one, sorry)? Or what about You do the math. Oh I hate that one.

Of course, words from other cultures, English-speaking or not, are just another part of the never ending evolution of our wonderful language, so we should try not to get too upset. But I plan never, ever to deplane

Tune back in soon to find out what words we’re exporting to the US…

Sources and inspirtation:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-14201796
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/14130942

image: © Anthony Dodd | Dreamstime.com