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6 Comments

  • Stan:
    This latest kerfuffle over Americanisms vs. the Holy Grail of Pure English really seems to me to be a tempest in a pot of tea, or as I’ve heard the English say, a tempest in a teapot. As a writer and journalist, as well as a lifelong lover of language – purely as an amateur – I take the same position you do. I think that all the myriad accents and dialects of English enrich the totality of the language as a means of communication, and after all, our ability to communicate verbally is what separates us from the other denizens of the planet.

  • Marc: It is, as you say, a tempest in a teapot. But there’s a lot of people jumping in for a vigorous splash and scalding innocent passers-by. I agree wholeheartedly that variety is enriching. It would be a pleasure to see a message like that coming from a BBC article on language, instead of the recent binges of irritation.

  • […] “Dialectal drift” was a brief response to a lively recent debate over Americanisms, which I hope to address at greater length in a future blog post. Copyediting newsletter was kind enough to call it “the voice of reason”, but as I said to someone elsewhere, these things are relative; I read a lot of unreason on the topic. Anyway, here’s an excerpt: Given that languages and dialects undergo constant change, and blend and blur into one another, the purist point of view seems misguided to me. . . . Catchphrases and idioms (often AmE) spread quickly, and grievances over new coinages and linguistic conventions are often knee-jerk objections that develop over time into pet hates. But some of these neologisms eventually become standard, widely used, and even loved. . . . […]