Thursday, 27 September 2012

The Britishisation of American English

Hi, I already have another blog for academic/IELTS stuff over at but this is going to be for anything else that I think might be interesting or useful for learners and teachers of English.  Here's something from the BBC today:

I must remember to email the link to my American friends - it smells like victory...

Actually I'm not one of those people who gets too upset about differences in American and British voabulary and spelling. I think it's just an interesting part of the language and at least it gives teachers a nice easy lesson when they can't think of anything more useful to study that day..."Ok everyone, here is a list of words...lift, biscuits, pavement, tap, (etc), with a partner I want you to write them in AMERICAN." Marvellous.

But there are a few phrases which have crept into English  over recent years which I hate and for which I blame American English, although that could be completely unfair, I don't know.
Anyway, my list of pet hates is:

3) to grow a business - I think we grow flowers and tomatoes in the garden. I think we expand or build a business. But hey, what do I know?
2) to impact on something - I feel like a grumpy old man for saying this, but I remember when impact was a noun and we used the phrase to have an impact on something. We used to use the verb affect, as in "Smoking affects our health". But now it seems fine for everyone to say "Smoking impacts on our health." It sounds ugly to me.

1) much different to - I hear this more and more and every time it makes me want to shoot myself in the face.

"Yeah this part of the job is much different to the rest".  AARRGHHHH!
Different is an adjective, just like rich, fat, old, and expensive are adjectives
Would you say"David is much rich now that he sold his business."?   no (I hope)
Would you say "Shirley is looking much fat these days"? no (possibly also because it would be impolite)
Would you say "this car isn't much expensive when you compare it to others"? no

With adjectives you use quantifiers (words like very, a bit, quite etc.)
So you would say "David is very rich now."  "Shirley is looking very fat" and so on.

And that's what you need for different "This part of the job is very different to the rest".

Lynyrd Skynryd - the American rock group - had a song called "We Ain't Much Different" so perhaps they started it. But apart from being ignorant hicks they also died in a plane crash, so beware - The God of Grammar is a vengeful deity.

Anyway I hope I'm able to grow this blog and it impacts on your life as it is, I'm sure you will find, much different to other blogs.  I feel a bit ill after that sentence so I shall stop now. 

See y'later y'all!


  1. That BBC article is funny. The English invented the word "trendy"? And "called Joe"? They might be reaching, me thinks.

    I think in American English we call this a "slow news day".

  2. Thanks Nate, my first ever comment - the blog looks just that bit less lonely now