Folks here in the former British North American Colonies are often accused of talking and writing a language different from the Mother Tongue. We can't always understand the Brits, but then, they can't always understand the way the language is spoken in Washington, not to mention the Bronx or Biloxi.

Metro Scene, therefore, salutes two emissaries from the former Virginia Colony -- students from Washington & Lee University at Lexington -- who went to Britain and convinced an audience there that Americans not only speak English, but actually an American English better than British English.

Neither student who went to Britain spoke Virginia English. One was sophomore Rick Graves of Gulfport, Miss., and the other was junior Chris Lion of O'Fallon, Ill.

Okay, back to the main point. Graves and Lion, in an appearance at the University of Exeter in Devonshire, took the affirmative position on the resolution: ". . . American English is better than British English."

After a debate and a question-and-answer period, the audience voted 16-2 that the Americans had won.

One reason, debater Graves speculated, was that American English tends to be more direct. "We say what we mean," Graves said. " . . . I referred to a sign I had seen in a British pub. The English . . . required four long sentences to say that 'No one under 18 will be served,' which . . . was precisely the way such a sign is worded in an American bar. . . . "