[Ads-l] US slang with British origins?

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Sat May 12 01:06:50 EDT 2018

Five days ago George Thompson pointed to an article about Lynne
Murphy's recent book "The Prodigal Tongue" which discussed the
exchange of slang between Britain and the U.S. Here are two excerpts
from the article:

Periodical: TLS
Article: Cripes, a bumbershoot!
Author: Lionel Shriver

[Begin excerpt]
In the interest of perpetuating the American stereotype of the British
as preposterous and euphemistically naughty, when becoming the host of
CBS’s Late, Late Show James Corden was encouraged to use “charming”
British slang like “willy”, “bonkers”, “shag” and “squiffy”. But the
producers were anxious that Corden avoid the likes of “knackered”,
“bladdered”, “half-cut”, “well-oiled” and “trolleyed”, which don’t
paint a picture quite so adorable.
[End excerpt]

[Begin excerpt]
Just as “guy” has gradually penetrated British parlance, “spot on”,
“knock-on effect”, “dodgy”, “cheeky”, “baby bump” and “one-off”, for
example, are all popping up in American speech and prose. “At the end
of the day” has spread like potato blight on American political talk

Yet appropriations can miss the nuance. In an enthusiastic New York
Times book review not long ago, Janet Maslin deemed a novel “twee”. In
context, she clearly meant the adjective as a compliment. In other
instances, Americans launder British expressions to suit their own
lingo (creating a “calque” or “loan translation”, I now learn). “Don’t
get your panties in a twist” became all the rage in the US a few years
back, and to Americans this tweaked but still shop-worn chastisement
was terribly fresh, witty and original. No one appeared to realize
that the gist of the injunction was British.
[End excerpt]


On Sat, May 12, 2018 at 12:13 AM, GEOFFREY NUNBERG <nunbergg at gmail.com> wrote:
> Mencken wrote, "It is most unusual for an English neologism to be taken up in this country, and when it is, it is only by a small class, mainly made up of conscious Anglomaniacs. To the common people everything English, whether an article of dress, a social custom or a word or phrase has what James M. Cain has called 'a somewhat pansy cast.' That is to say, it is regarded as affected, effeminate and ridiculous.”
> That was then, of course, but I have to say I’m hard put to come up with examples of current American slang that began their lives as Britishisms, in the way that Americanisms like “awesome” and “you guys” have naturalized as slang in the UK.
> Geoff
> Geoffrey Nunberg
> School of Information,
> University of California, Berkeley
> Berkeley, CA 94720-4600
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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