Thursday, 24 February 2011

One woman's quest to save British English

If I didn't already run so many twitter accounts, I'd open @AmericanismsWatch.

Really, really, I have nothing against Americans (with a few notable exceptions - Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin, I'm looking at you), but since we linguists are always banging on about the death of languages I just wanted to be part of documenting the Death of British English, which can be witnessed through a cursory glance at the Facebook statuses of Brits.

They reveal the use of words and phrases like: I'm on it, I'm psyched for, Awww.

Yes, "awww". When an American says it, it sounds like Ahhhh. If you want to say Ahhhh, you need to spell it Ahhhh, because since when do we say "awe" when we are presented with a picture of a kitten?

So periodically I'll be having a little rant about Brits who can't seem to stop themselves from sounding American (and yes, that does include me), and asking for satisfactory translations, which are a lot harder to come by than they might sound. "Pretty" is not exactly the same as "quite" or "rather" or "very". "Smart" is not exactly "clever". But a onesie is a babygrow, we are not "psyched for" but "excited about".

Save British English! Who's with me?

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Three beautiful things, all of them vaguely literary

I bought Brussels Unlimited today. I almost never buy it, but yesterday I wanted to, and I couldn't find it, and so today, even though it's a new issue, out of sheer bloody-mindedness I tracked it down. And I'm so glad I did, because without it I would never have known that:

* They picked my question on Starbucks to use in their section at the beginning where they round up the discussions on

* Howard Jacobson is coming to Brussels! He won the Man Booker Prize, and I've heard him interviewed on both the Guardian Books Podcast and Radio Four Books, and I like him. I haven't read The Finkler Question, but I certainly intend to, although I think I'll go for his earlier work, The Mighty Waltzer, first, after hearing him talk about it on the Radio Four Book Club Podcast. This is exciting, because as far as I know Real Live Famous Authors never (or rarely) come to Brussels, and this is the kind of event I ought to be going to as an aspiring writer. I'm even tempted to have some business cards made, though I can't think why - surely not to give to him? Although, well. You never know, do you?

Unrelately to Brussels Unlimited, but staying in the general theme of newspapers, I passed a Guardian today that had an article which intrigued me, but I talked myself into being sensible and not buying it. My last lesson of the day was in Exki on Place Stephanie, where - bless their hearts - they have a variety of newpapers in various languages, including my British rag of choice. And since I was there when it closed, and since no one - bless all of your hearts - had taken the G2 section, they let me take it away with me. For free, not the statutory €5, or however much a British newspaper costs here these days. These little things make me smile. ]

Having my chubby-faced nephew flash me beautiful dimpled smiles was also pretty great today, but that takes me to four beautiful things, and that's not allowed, is it?