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Why the Americanisation of English Is a Good Thing
Jun 05, 2017, 12:57
Sadly, so much here (and on TMA) is now so opinion-based it’s hardly worth the time and trouble reading it. There’s little or no regard to either the facts nor to the historic context where that’s relevant. When the facts and the context are known they’re often ignored to support the opinion of the poster. This sulphur/sulfur thread is just one example of that. Howburn Digger may have been genuinely concerned at what he sees as a lazy use of some English words by our American cousins but his concern, I’m afraid, doesn’t hold water. It doesn’t hold water because it ignores the facts and the historic context of the issue.

The trouble with opinion-based threads/comments such as this one is that they tend to snowball and we get, for example, the use of aluminium/aluminum then being introduced as further proof of lazy Americanisms when that, too, doesn’t hold water. Result? No-one really learns anything from such an ‘exchange’ and the inevitable fisticuffs break out.

On a lighter note BBC Radio 4 recently ran a programme called Americanize!: Why the Americanisation of English Is a Good Thing. It’s here if anyone’s interested (and it's well worth a listen). You might think WOW for example is an Americanism but actually it’s originally from 16th century Scotland! Ditto so many other words like ‘trash’.

Going back to different spellings of a word though; there have been various attempts to standardise English spelling but none have come to fruition. It’s not an impossible task however, in fact any half-decent dictionary will give you both the phonetic spelling as well as the ‘accepted’ spelling of a word. The thing is should we rationalise the spelling of English? I’ve never been able to come a decisive decision on this. On the one hand it would make learning how to read and write English so much easier but, on the other, it would strip away so much of the historic nuance that our written language has gathered around itself.

Perhaps the brave new world of uniformity (that I’ve alluded to elsewhere) will determine the future direction of travel for the English language – one away from the present rich diversity of our language towards expressing ourselves in the blandest way possible.

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