The Washington Post

We don’t think Britishisms are the bees knees, either


Let’s be honest: No one looks happy in this photo. (CAROLYN KASTER/ASSOCIATED PRESS)

Engel lists off a number of British usages that have been challenged or superceded by their “ugly and pointless” American equivalents:

“Going to the film” has become “going to the movies.” People drive “trucks” not “lorries.” A “lift” is really an “elevator.”

Engel goes on to call the word “hospitalize”a “vile word,” and the word “ouster” a “horror.”

“We are letting British English wither,” Engel warns.

Engel’s article prompted what the BBC calls “thousands” of e-mails from upstanding British citizens who cited examples of all the bad Americanisms clogging their eardrums.

The Economist is less harsh, but still cautionary. “If you use Americanisms just to show you know them, people may find you a tad tiresome, so be discriminating,” the publication counsels.

Well, guess what, guys: We don’t like Britishisms all that much, either!

Below are five usages that really rankle us, and some of them have already infiltrated our shores. Others we’ve gathered with help from the Telegraph, which has compiled the most annoying Britishisms “in the spirit of promoting transatlantic balance.” We really hope they stay an ocean away. Read on:

1. “Know what I mean?”

Let me know if you’re aware of the existence of another phrase that conveys any less meaning than this one. I’ve heard Americans begin to use the phrase to point out something that’s already in­cred­ibly obvious, or to finish off a sentence that makes no sense.

2. Dogs bollocks/ Bees Knees

Just say something is fabulous. Or wonderful. Or even better, actually describe what was so great about it! Phrases that conjure up mental images of canine or insect body parts should be banned.

3. All the variations of the word “arse”

When you insert “arse” into a sentence, you just sound uncouth. And oafish. And rude. Really, you just sound like an arse yourself.

4. “It’s rather warm.”

The Telegraph gives the translation of this phrase as: “It’s as hot as ****,” writing that it’s a “classic British understatement, part of the national fondness for euphemism rather than telling it straight.” C’mon guys, just say it’s hot out.

5. Duff/Duffer/Faff/Chuffed

All those “ff” sounds make it impossible to take you seriously. Duff is trash? A duffer is useless? A faff is to procrastinate? And chuffed is pleased? I mean, really.

I could go on forever with these, but before I leave you, a paragraph chock-full of Indianisms, courtesy of Hamra.net . You know, in the spirit of promoting transatlantic balance and everything.

I am out-of-station and as such, I request you to do the needful and prepone the upgradations. Tell me your timings by today night itself regarding the same. We have not received the parameters from client till date. As such, I think we'll land up delivering the project late. Don't mistake me. Please send me any advices because I always depend your feed backs. We must continue such team work. My manger is very thankful for the tuitions I am recieving. Please revert to the undersigned with any clarifications.

Britain, I blame you for this one.

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