Sunday, August 06, 2006


Britishisms? Why?

Dean has a little piece here about John and Mrs. Glenn getting in an accident. That's not why I'm writing this.

One of the things I like about Dean is that in some ways, I think he and I think alike. He'll take a story about an accident and hospitalization and come up with this:
By the way, have you ever noticed that some people say "at hospital" or "in hospital" instead of "at a hospital" or "in a hospital?"

Commenters note that it's a common British usage. Dean agrees, but notes that he hears it here, too.

So what is it with Britishisms? How can we possibly still have an inferiority complex with England after all this time? Speaking of Britishisms, does everyone who visits England really have to come back and say "wanker" and/or "bloody" every sixth word? We get it. You went to England.

Look, European snobbiness is half the reason all those people came to the new world in the first place. Now you want to come back from a seven day, six night guided tour of places like Boiled Beef Manor and Cabbage Castle and get all hoity-toity on us? If you want to visit someplace and come back using their language, at least visit someplace cool, or that has cool stuff we haven't already heard of a jillion times. Since nothing's cooler than America, why not visit someplace here? Then you can tell me about a cool place, like Waffle House, that I've never heard of here in California.

Or why not really contribute to the cultural exchange and on your next visit to the UK see if you can get them to start saying teabagging at their 4:00pm crumpet parties.
Actually if you think about it, it's normal for people to pick up each other people's patois. Indeed, in the English language we do this probably more than most languages, happily adopting new words whenever they're useful. This is normal in other languages too; "hamburger" is an American word that's used all over the world now, even in places like France and Japan.

What with how cheap and common it is to travel overseas, and with the internet, should it really be surprising if some Britishisms wind up in the American lexicon? They've picked up a bunch of ours after all.
See, this is the value of rational thinkers. They reel you in when you go over the top.

I suppose the adoption of words from other languages is only natural. Perhaps in another century or two (or several) most languages will have melded into some sort of common speech that everyone will be using.

Heck, with the singularity, we may even live long enough to see it. Anyone care to place a bet on the decade it happens?

Then again, if the singularity does happen, we'll all be downloading language packs to our cyberbrains that will translate any language for us. Any bets on that decade?

And what effects would a universal, common language have on culture and society around the world? Do conflicts become easier to solve, or more difficult? Would the French deny their citizens access to these language packs in order to preserve French culture?

However it works out, I don't care, as long as I don't have to hear another American saying "bloody" or "wanker."

I would suppose that if there are downloadable language packs, at some point the norm would be for people to start using them somewhat like they use programming languages. Among professional programmers, it's common to work in 2 or 3 or 4 languages depending on circumstances. So you might wind up with something like this:

1) Latin for military and similar command and control applications (Latin has a reputation for extreme precision.)

2) Chinese for poetry.

3) English for casual conversation.

4) Italian for singing

...etc. Although within each particular purpose, there would probably multiple choices, each with its exponents. ;-)
You want Waffle House? They're all yours. You just have to give up the In-N-Outs.
Well, Bill, let's not get too hasty with the In-n-Outs; that's just crazy talk! I may have to go order a 4x4 now. Mmmmmmm.
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