The O.C. English

Thursday, September 29, 2011 § 36

Grammar is everything to me. My Dad used to tell me, "If you can't speak English properly especially in social functions, then you might as well have your tongue cut off." I swear my Dad had Nazi blood in him.

While other people judge others by the looks, I judge them by how well they speak English, and, of course, whether they can pull off a smart English conversation with me for a prolonged period of time. (That's why I'll never ever date a guy with a lousy English. He he.) I won't claim that my English is perfect. Mine can get quite rusty and sloppy. But I always make sure to do something about that. Either my English rubs hides the right way, or I will have my tongue cut off before some grammarian  manages to evoke visceral responses-- abominable, hideous, disgusting-- at my faulty English.

Yes I can be very O.C. when it comes to the whole English stuff, so imagine my surprise when I came to stumble upon this BBC news magazine web page.

On Americanisms: 50 of your most noted examples, it was insinuated that Americans had allegedly morphed and disfigured the traditional language of English. The usage of American English, or "Americanism" has managed to infiltrate the language of the local Brits themselves, and changed the way they speak, which in turn infuriated the ones who remained "pure". My use of the phrases 'I'm good', 'Where you at', and 'Gimme five minutes' may sound innocent enough but these are the kinds of phrases that drive the British mental. And who else must take full blame but the Americans who took over the language, and forged it according to their needs, whose bad English habits and slangy ways we Filipinos adopted.

Allegedly the version of the King's English that we are using is sloppy. The Brits can not understand why we keep on removing the "u's" on "colours" and "flavours". And it sure will drive them to the edge that we don't use the lavatory as often as we use our comfort rooms.

Here's the list of the 50 Americanisms that drive the Brits to the edge, with some of  their actual comments:

1. “Can I get a...” (“It infuriates me. It’s not New York. It’s not the ‘90s. You’re not in Central Perk with the rest of the Friends. Really.”)

2. “Least worst option.” (“Their most best option is learning grammar.”)

3. “Two-time” and “three-time.” (“Have the words ‘double,’ ‘triple,’ etc. been totally lost?”)

4. “24/7” (rather than “24 hours, 7 days a week”)

5. “Deplane” (instead of “disembark”)

6. “Wait on” (instead of “wait for”)

7. “It is what it is.” (“Pity us!”)

8. “Fanny pack.” (ME: would someone enlighten me? Maybe in the UK, they call it “Booty pack”?)

9. “Touch base.” (“It makes me cringe no end.”)

10. “Physicality” (“Is it a real word?”)

11. “Transportation.” (“What’s wrong with ‘transport’?”)

12. “Leverage.” (“It seems to pop up in all aspects of work. And its meaning seems to have changed to ‘value added.”)

13. “Turn” (“Does nobody ‘celebrate’ a birthday anymore, must we all ‘turn’ 12 or 21 or 40?”)

14. “Shopping cart.” (“I caught myself saying this instead of shopping trolley today and was thoroughly disgusted with myself.”)

15. “Gotten.” (“What kind of word is that? It makes me shudder.”)

16. “I’m good” (for “I’m well”)

17. “Bangs” (for a fringe of the hair)

18. “Take-out” (rather than takeaway)

19. “Ridiculosity.” (“Perhaps it’s used in a tongue in cheek manner?”)

 20. “A half hour” (instead of “half an hour”)

21. “Heads up.” (“For example, as in a business meeting. I have never been sure of the meaning!”)

22. “Train station.” (“My teeth are on edge every time I hear it. Who started it? Have they been punished?”) (Me: Presumably they say “railway station” in more civilized climes.)

23. “Alphabetize it.” (“To put a list on an alphabetical order. Horrid!”)

24. “My bad.” (“People say it after making a mistake. I don’t know how anything could be as annoying or lazy as that.”)

25. “Normalcy”  (instead of “normality”)

26. “Burglarize” (Me: As opposed to “burgle”?)

27. “Oftentimes” (“Just makes me shiver with annoyance.”)

28. “Eaterie.” (“To use a prevalent phrase, ‘Oh my gaad!’”)

29. “Bi-weekly.” (“Fortnightly would suffice just fine.”)

30. “Alternate” (instead of “alternative.”)

31. “Price hike.” (“Does that mean people who do that are hikers? No, hikers are ramblers!”)

32. “Going forward.” (“If I do I shall collide with my keyboard.”)

33. “Deliverable.” (“Used by management consultants for something they will ‘deliver’ instead of a report. Ugh!”)

34. “A million and a half.” (“Clearly, it’s ‘one and a half million‘!” )

35. “Reach out to” (instead of “ask”) (“As in ‘I will reach out to Kevin and let you know if that timing is convenient.’ Is Kevin stuck in quicksand? Is he teetering on the edge of a cliff? Can’t we just ask him?”)

36. “You do the math.” (“Math? It’s maths! Maths!”)

37. “Regular” (in coffee shops) (“What ever happened to a medium-sized coffee?”)

38. “Expiration date.” (“Whatever happened to ‘expiry’?”)

39. “Scotch-Irish.” (“Americans claim their ancestors as such. Even if it were possible, it would be ‘Scots’ not ‘Scotch,’ which is a drink.”)

40. “That’ll learn you.” (“The English — and more correct — version was always ‘that’ll teach you.’ What a ridiculous phrase!”) (Me: Yayy. I've never used this!)
41. “Where’s it at?” (“It just sounds grotesque and is immensely irritating.”)

42. “Period” (instead of “full stop”)

43. “Winningest” (“As in ‘Michael Schumacher is the winningest driver of all time.’ I can feel the rage rising even using it here.”)

44. “Season” (instead of TV series) (“Hideous.”) (Me: Well, I've often wondered about this one too.)

45. “Issue” (instead of “problem”)

46. “The letter zee” (instead of the proper British “zed”) (“Not happy about it!”) (Me: And I’m not happy about people using the phrase “Not happy about it!”)

47. “Medal” (as a verb instead of ‘win a medal’) (“Sets my teeth on edge with a vengeance.”)

48. “I got it for free.” (“A pet hate. You got it ‘free,’ not ‘for free.’ You don’t get something cheap and say you got it ‘for cheap,’ do you?”)

49. “Turn that off already.” (“Oh, dear.”)

50. “I could care less” (instead of “I couldn’t care less”) (“Has to be the worst. Opposite meaning of what they’re trying to say.”)

I agree that some of the Americanisms are ludicrous, and that the concerned Brits' reactions are justifiable, but I really don't get why it's driving them to a near-hysteria, and even inspired UK grammarians to  write grammar guides that few of us who speak English can't even get through. Maybe it is their patriotisme' and intense desire to preserve the King's language as it is, but I feel I don't want to take part. I mean, I'm not even British. (Although I really am glad to have read the interesting article.)

Most of you couldn't care less, but before I end this, allow me to share another BBC viewer's eloquent standpoint re the impermanence of the English language.

"Languages are, by their very nature, shifting, malleable things that morph according to the needs and desires of those who speak them. 

"English itself is a rather complicated, interesting blend of Germanic, French and Latin (among other things). It has arrived at this point through the long and torturous process of assimilation and modification. The story of the English language is the story of an unstoppable train of consecutive changes - and for someone to put their hand up and say "wait - the train stops here and should go no further" is not only futile, but ludicrously arbitrary. "

and this,

"I understand the argument about loss of cultural identity, but if so many people are so willing to give up traditional forms and phrases maybe we should consider that they didn't have as much value as we previously imagined."

Couldn't agree more to that major, major statement! Ooopps. My bad. (;

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§ 36 Response to “The O.C. English”

  • at dahil jan, magtatagalog ako. bwahaahaha. grabe..nahiya na ko agad sayo. yes lang ang alam ko. hahaha. ^_^

  • Anonymous says:

    haha.. jusko naman. parang ayoko nang mag english. lol.. sensya naman. my bad. hahaha!! :p

  • This is hilarious! Thank you for putting this together. :D

  • mayen says:

    nahilo naman ako dito. hayaan na lang natin. parang matatagalan akong isulat ang isusunod na post ko ah? haha..

  • mayen says:

    oh by the way, it's good to know.. (sus tama ba yun?) di ko na tuloy alam. haha...

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  • I appreciate your English skills! Your dad must've been responsible for that.

    Ahaha. Nakakatuwa basahin. Naku, baka pag nabasa ng mga Brits yung blog ko, ma hi high blood sila. I'm too lazy to proofread. I publish right after I hit the last dot. Lol.

    Love your ending, by the way.

  • krn says:

    hahaha. natatawa ko sa mga comments nila. lol hahaha. BRB. ;)

  • Hahahaha! I completely agree with every line of this post!
    It's so annoying when people can't speak good English, or at least type grammatically correct statements!
    The most irritating one is when people can't get the difference between "your" and "you're". :P

    Great blog!
    Now following. :)


  • This made me sit up and read through sleepy eyes. I'll say, I learnt some, here. :)

  • ayoko ng mag english tuloy...lol natakot na ako...lol..but really I adore living creature like you..bongga ang mga katalinohan sa english ....ma migay ka naman:)

  • haha! this post was great. i do admit to using phrases like 'my bad' and 'where you at' at times, but usually i do take care to speak proper and correct English :D

  • ka bute says:

    the perfect tongue eh? :))

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